|The Brinton Museum nestles in the foothills of Montana's Bighorn Mountains. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
The city of Sheridan, population just 20,000, offers a wide variety of experiences. If you think the West uncultured, think again. The Brinton Museum houses one of the finest western art museums in the world. In addition to paintings, photography and sculpture, it includes an outstanding collection of exquisitely designed leather craft.
|A rare Blackfeet Grizzly Shirt. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
The Chinese used the rammed earth technique to build the Great Wall of China and so did the trustees of the Brinton Museum when they enlarged the facility with the Forrest E. Mars Building (the candy company family are Brinton supporters). Like the wall, the building and its 19th-21st century Western art and Native American collection should be safe for several more millennia.
Bradford Brinton and his older sister Helen may have been from Illinois but they fell in love with the west, she with Arizona, he with Montana and both with Western and Native American art and artists. Wealthy from developing the family's farm equipment company, Brinton bought the historic Quarter Circle A Ranch. When he died, he left it to his sister, knowing she would never sell it.
|The "Whoopie Cabin." Photo © by Judy Wells.|
May through September via tours as is the Little Goose Creek Lodge, known to his friends as the "whoopie cabin."
|Jim Jackson shows a group how he creates his leather work. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
|Downtown Sheridan. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
Sheridan’s downtown looks as I expected the Old West: wide streets, from the days when horse-drawn wagons needed space to turn around, and many original brick buildings.
A walking tour took me past City Hall, a stone courthouse, a shoe store featuring hundreds of colorful cowboy boots, and a furniture store selling a bed with a hidden compartment for a rifle.
|Looks like a plain bed. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
|But with a one-of-a-kind key... Photo © by Judy Wells.|
... we had to go in and meet Henry.
And yes, given the chance he will follow you home.
Like many enlightened down towns, Sheridan's is enlivened with western themed sculpture and murals.
Do like this growing trend.
|The Good Girls, Judy and Debi.|
You can’t miss the set of horns measuring seven feet from tip to tip centered behind the bar.
|Photo © by Judy Wells.|
Nor can you miss the skin of a rattlesnake that was just a tad bit longer mounted above those horns.
The beer is cold, too.
|Judy's favorite stop. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
|Mike Wooton, rope technician. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
Their saddle may hail from there, too.
|Photos © by Judy Wells.|
As if that weren't enough, Don King Museum with its collection of historic saddles, bridles, weaponry, wagons, carriages and artifacts is a must-see. I ask you, where else will you find an old saddle with flowers carved into the stirrup leathers and a naked woman etched into the fenders?
|The historic Sheridan Inn. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
|One of two bars Queen Victoria had made for Bill Cody's hotels. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
Cody was a co-owner of the circa 1893 hotel, once considered the finest between Chicago and San Francisco, having talked the railroad into building it. Queen Victoria was so amused by his wild west show she had two front and back bars made for his hotels; the second is in the Irma Hotel in Cody, Wyoming.
|The copper and pearl chandelier in the Ladies' Parlor. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
Stepping through the front doors is like entering a time capsule, albeit one with Wi-Fi.
|Trail End. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
Over the next 18 years he amassed a cattle and land empire with 10 ranches across 210,000 acres in two states. Shortly after building Trail End, the only known example of Dutch revival architecture in Wyoming, Kendricks first was elected governor and then U. S. senator for the state.
|The young crowd gathers inside and out at The Black Tooth Brewery. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
It's a real Western town, too. Those aren't drugstore cowboys or all hat no horse cowgirls you see at King's. That's a lifetime of trail dust, horse and cow poop on or just wiped off their boots.