THOUGH JOHN AND Eula Kendrick were born in Texas, lived in Montana for eighteen years and Washington, D.C. for seventeen more, they both loved Wyoming - especially Sheridan. To John especially, Sheridan represented the best the West had to offer and it was no accident that he decided to center his life there. Nearly everything - the topography, the various industries, the transportation options, the people - influenced the way in which Trail End evolved from a cowboy's dream to a senator's dream home.
From every vantage point, visitors to Trail End can see indications of the rich history that has unfolded at its doorstep: the grasslands that fed the thousands of bison, cattle and horses so essential to the area's economy; the tracks of the Burlington & Missouri Railroad which connected Sheridan to the outside world in 1892; and Red Cloud's Lookout, named for the Oglala Lakota leader who fought to protect his nation's sacred lands in the 1860s.
THE FOUNDING OF SHERIDAN
In 1882, Ohio native John D. Loucks came to northern Wyoming in his search for a place to start a home. His quest brought him into an area that only a few years earlier had been aflame with native unrest and political controversy. In 1914 he described his early impressions of the Sheridan area, before extensive settlement brought permanent changes:
I halted on what is now Court House Hill, tired and hungry. The sun was about an hour high; the evening air soft and pleasant, with an afterglow of golden hue; the hills were tinged with green. On a point across Little Goose was a small herd of Buffalo, leisurely feeding; a little way up Big Goose was a small band of deer, roaming at will. To the west were the snowcapped Big Horn mountains and the Big Goose valley; to the north, Wolf creek and Tongue river with their broad acres; to the east, the fertile valley of Prairie Dog, and to the south, the picturesque Little Goose.
Walking down to the confluence of Big Goose and Little Goose creeks, Loucks was struck with the certainty that this was the place he was looking for. That night, he drew the original plat of the town – forty acres in all – on a piece of brown wrapping paper. The next morning he notified all the settlers he could find and got their support for the founding of the town. All that was needed was the approval of the land office in Cheyenne. That was soon received and Sheridan, named after Loucks' Civil War commander General Philip H. Sheridan, was a going concern.
By the fall of 1884, nearly all the lots on the original forty acres were occupied. When the Burlington Railroad arrived in 1892, over two hundred businesses and individuals in Sheridan were paying taxes. By 1903 that number jumped to well over eight hundred, with a total population of just over fifteen hundred.
Like John D. Loucks, John B. Kendrick first fell in love with the visual beauty of the Sheridan area, and then was struck by its perfect location – one ideal for commerce and industry. As Senator Joseph T. Robinson noted in his 1934 eulogy of Kendrick,
Passing over long trails, across plains inhabited only by wild Indian tribes, [John Kendrick] sought an attractive place in which to make his home. When he beheld the tableland on which Sheridan is located and looked upon the distant Big Horn Mountains, he said: "There is no lovelier place on earth than this."
Sheridan's original townsite is located just southeast of the mansion, at the foot of Courthouse Hill. From just a few square blocks in 1882, Sheridan has grown to encompass nearly five thousand acres of residential neighborhoods, commercial districts, industrial complexes, and open parklands.
VISTAS & VIEWS FROM TRAIL END
Today, from Kendrick's hilltop home, visitors can view all that has made this area popular since long before the arrival of either Loucks or Kendrick. South of Trail End, for example, framed by giant Silver Birch trees, lies a sweeping panoramic view of the Bighorn Mountains. Most of the range, once called the Shining Mountains by Native Americans, is now part of the Bighorn National Forest and has long been of economic, cultural and recreational importance to the people of northern Wyoming and southern Montana.
Past the sunken rose garden to the south of Trail End is Kendrick Park, donated to the community by John Kendrick. Westward above the park along Pioneer Road is a pasture stocked with elk and buffalo – also donated by Kendrick. Beyond these, about seven miles south of town, is the community of Big Horn. Several of this area's ranches were founded by younger sons of British nobility who came to the American West to seek their fortunes.
Also south of Sheridan are the foothill communities of Banner and Story. Prized for its cool breezes and ice cold mountain streams, Story has long been favored as a summer get-away by locals and tourists alike. In the 1860s, these same foothills served as center stage for violent conflicts between American Indians and the United States Army, as the Bozeman Trail brought miners and settlers through the last hunting grounds used by the Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho.
West of Trail End, encompassing the communities of Beckton and Beaver Creek, is the agricultural area known as Big Goose. From the late 1800s through the present day, Big Goose has been known for its prize-winning sheep and cattle. A substantial sugar beet industry once thrived in Big Goose along with dozens of small potato farms, a flour mill and even a tree farm or two.
North of Sheridan, past Trail End's towering Blue Spruce, are the communities of Wolf, Ranchester, Dayton and Parkman. In the 1890s, the longest tie flume in the United States ran into Dayton from the Bighorn mountain logging camp of Woodrock. The ties were used to build tracks for the Burlington & Missouri Railroad as it passed through Sheridan County on its way to Montana. Remnants of the flume are still visible to sharp-eyed mountain travelers.
Also to the north are the scattered remains of several mining towns including Monarch, Acme, Higby, Dietz, Kooi and Carneyville (later called Kleenburn). Flourishing between 1910 and 1940, these communities have since disappeared, their buildings removed after the underground coal mines closed.
The mansion's front (east) porch overlooks Goose Creek, a headwater tributary of Tongue River flowing northward to join the Yellowstone at Miles City, Montana. The Tongue River country was once a cherished hunting area for the Lakota and Cheyenne who, with the neighboring Crow, held much of this region as their own until the 1870s. In June of 1876, the military command of General George Crook camped at the confluence of Big and Little Goose Creeks, just below our hill. On June 17, Crook and his troops marched northward from this verdant valley to engage the Lakota and Cheyenne at the Rosebud Battle. Crook was turned back by the same warriors who would go on to defeat George Custer and his troops at the Battle of the Little Bighorn just one week later.
Beyond the high hills east of Sheridan – past the ranching communities of Ucross, Clearmont, Arvada, Ulm and Leiter – lies Powder River country. "A mile wide and an inch deep," Powder River is another historic tributary of the Yellowstone. Vast herds of Texas longhorn cattle followed the banks of Powder River on trails leading to the grasslands of Wyoming and Montana. Part of the Kendrick ranches were in this area, utilizing the bountiful shortgrass range lands adjacent to the waters of both the Powder and Tongue to create a ranching empire of over 210,000 acres.
Trail End from the northeast, circa 1927 (Hoff Collection, TESHS)
State Historic Site
Bighorn Mountains from Trail End (Georgen)