Adobe Town, Red Desert, near Wamsutter, Wyoming

Desert Dust mural in Rawlins, WY

David Egolf: In June 2014 I interviewed 89-year-old Jack Price of Huron, SD, author of "Wild Horse Robbins." In the 1940's, Mr. Price, along with his father and four older brothers, worked as cowboys for Frank Robbins in his wild horse operation in the Red Desert. During his tenure as a cowboy, between the ages of 12 and 15, Price lived with his family in a small log house in the Red Desert. His work for Robbins included riding horseback to help herd wild horses into several temporary corrals, one located among the steep chalk bluffs of Adobe Town. Mr. Price told me that the palomino stallion known as "Desert Dust" was driven into and held in the Adobe Town corral. A Rawlins photographer, J. L. Verne Wood, who happened to be present during that roundup in 1945, snapped the now famous photo of Desert Dust. A hand-tinted version of the black-and-white photo appeared in many magazines of that day. In the early 1950's, a larger famed print of the Desert Dust photo was presented to Wyoming Senator O'Mahoney. It hung on his office wall in the U.S. Senate office building for many years, but its whereabouts are unknown today. I have seen large framed prints of Mr. Wood's hand-tinted photo of Desert Dust hanging behind bars in Rock River (Double-Shot Bar) and in Medicine Bow (The Virginian Bar). I have also seen the mural of Desert Dust that was painted on the west-facing wall of a building in Rawlins. In addition, Mr. Wood sold hundreds of signed 8 by 10 prints, and even authored a book of poems about Desert Dust. His captor, Frank Robbins, tried unsuccessfully to break the wild stallion, and finally gave up, using him as rodeo stock in his Glenrock Rodeo. The horse sired several colts on Robbins' ranch before being shot and killed by an unknown person. Publicity generated by Mr. Wood's Desert Dust photo alerted a whole generation of people to the potential demise of wild horses in the Western U. S. There are few symbols that remind us of freedom and independence like the photo of Desert Dust. I understand remnants of the original corral in Adobe Town that held Desert Dust are still standing. At the very least, that corral and its immediate environs, if not the whole of Adobe Town deserves historic designation and protection from industrialization such has road building and well-site construction.

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