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My parents Frank, and Betty Rose Miller, raised me on the I Lazy D ranch in Carbon County Wyoming, an outfit started by my great-grandfather, Ike, as one of his various businesses, in addition to his role as sheriff. Growing up in the wide-open country of south central Wyoming taught me the importance of understanding the rural landscape, its natural resources, and the influence they play on the development of human settlement.

These traits were just as important to lawmen and outlaws in late-nineteenth century Wyoming, who relied on a knowledge of cultural landscapes. I hope my description of the Wyoming terrain and communities adds context to the story about Parott and his exploits.

Carbon County provided the perfect choice for routing the Union Pacific Railroad through southern Wyoming. Much of it is a low-lying intermountain basin between the Central Rocky Mountains to the north and the Southern Rocky Mountains to the south. The route became a magnet for human settlement and commerce, with the trains often carrying well-to-do passengers, mineral shipments, and payrolls west to east, and back again.

Outlaws took advantage of this line, and frequently attempted to rob it. Big Nose George and his Powder River Gang were no exception. Their criminal exploits are forever etched into nineteenth century Carbon County history.

What inspired me to start writing?

Writing has always appealed to me, though I was not particularly good at it in my early years. My brother, Rod, always has been the literary genius of the family. But solid writing skills became more important to me in my college career, and I particularly learned to love writing about historical nonfiction. It is one way to keep alive the stories of Wyoming’s colorful past.

Years ago, I authored a book about an 1879 military expedition into northwestern Colorado that began at Fort Fred Steele, in Carbon County. It addressed unrest between the White River Utes and their Indian agent in Powell Valley. The discord grew in intensity and eventually boiled over into a shoving match. As a result, a military expedition was ordered to the agency to settle the matter.

Fort Fred Steele

What transpired from that event was an extended siege of the military expedition where warriors forced a retreat to circled wagons after troops attempted to enter the reservation under force of arms. A relief column of soldiers eventually rescued the besieged expedition, but several civilian employees at the agency were killed, and women and children were taken captive.

When I am not writing or researching for a book, I enjoy playing chess, watching college wrestling, and following the Colorado Rockies baseball team. My partner, Barbara, and I owned two horses up until a couple of years ago. I enjoyed feeding and watering them, and just walking with them in our pasture just to stay acquainted. One of them named Ugly, followed me whenever I was in the pasture, and sniffed my back pocket for treats. They brought back fond memories I have about growing up on the ranch and riding the high lonesome.

There are important stories about Wyoming that have yet to be told in their entirety. We suffer from the nearsightedness of what the screenplay of “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” says: “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes Fact, print the legend.” Facts have always interested me more than legends.

“Big Nose George: His Troublesome Trail” is my attempt to sift through the legend of this outlaw and focus on supported facts. It has been difficult, but quite rewarding. I know our theories about these events may evolve over time, but I hope to have provided some fuel to the fire of curiosity.

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