For quite some time now I have been wanting to stop by a little rock church found in Auburn Wyoming. Auburn is a little community not far from my home here in Afton Wyoming and it is a true piece of Americana as Auburn was a gateway for part of the Oregon Trail that passed through this part of Star Valley during the migration west in the mid 1800’s.
The Lander Cut Off once it was discovered helped these pioneers save 7 days in the journey heading west starting in Le Barge Wyoming making their way through true wilderness range and popping out in Smoot Wyoming just a stones throw from me here in Afton. It was Auburn where these pioneers made their was back into the mountains once they had crossed the Valley floor here on their way to Fort Hall Idaho. It may not sound like much but 7 days could make the difference between life or death back then. Remember the Donner Party? But that journey is really for another post.
No more excuses as my wife politely reminded me that in the morning the weather should be perfect for me. I woke up and she already had my very large YETI mug full of hot coffee ready for my morning’s journey. When I asked her why she was not dressed she just looked at me and said “Are you kidding me? It’s cold outside… no I will see you when you get back”. So with camera AND coffee in hand I headed out.
In Auburn there is not much as far as stores and places to shop, just a quaint little piece of Wyoming that many call home. Auburn sits on the border between Wyoming and Idaho… just inside the Wyoming line. It is here in Auburn that this beautiful rock LDS church sits.
It is said that Butch Cassidy and his gang used to winter in the Auburn area. Heavy snowfalls made Star Valley a safe place to “hole up”, as did the fact that this area was mostly settled by polygamists. Using aliases, Butch Cassidy and his partners were occasionally seen at church socials and dances held in the Old Rock Church in Auburn. Today this little rock church is used as a melodrama theater in the summer.
Recently I had the pleasure to visit with a current day elder who’s family has been in Auburn a very long time. She told me that because of the small size of the church they could not fit everyone who would attend these dances so a lottery system was developed so people could buy a ticket and when their ticket was called they would get to dance.
Because Butch Cassidy seemed to always have money it was rumored he would buy up enough tickets so he could dance all night. If people came to the area looking for him the locals where prepared to hide him or in most cases he would travel east to the Big Horn Mountains just outside Kaycee, Wyoming and not far from Sheridan Wyoming located on the east side of the Big Horns.
It is here in this place called “The Hole In The Wall” that the outlaws the likes of Butch Cassidy, Jesse James and the Sundance Kid would hole up until it was safe to move on. But this too is for another post.