The Modern West

The Modern West is a rich collection of news and cultural stories from the Mountain West. Features, interviews, oral history, readings, and more offer a snapshot of Western life. Catch our monthly digest of stories on The Modern West podcast.  

Supported in part by a grant from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund, a program of the Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources.

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Kamila Kudelska

Buffalo Bill Cody’s two-story childhood home stands in the courtyard of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. It’s the largest object in the Center’s collection.

American Heritage Center

In May 2017 Barnum and Bailey’s staged their final show. However, in their earlier years, the entertainment titans had a connection with Wyoming.

The Modern West 36: Unexpected Migration

Jul 20, 2018
Moosejaw Bravo Photography

As climate change warms the West, birds of prey are moving north. What happens when an apex predator leaves its native hunting grounds?

Archives On The Air 23: The Monarch of the Plains—The Design of Wyoming's Flag

Jul 18, 2018
American Heritage Center

In 1919 Wyoming held a competition to design the state flag; a flag that would embody Wyoming’s heritage and accurately represent its ideals.

Tennessee Watson

Farmworkers feed us, and to do so they travel around the country following the harvest. For their kids, that means moving from school to school. Wyoming Public Radio's education reporter Tennessee Watson found there’s a system in place to help these students, and brought us a story from North Dakota. To learn more about why we heard about one kid in North Dakota, Morning Edition host Caroline Ballard spoke with Tennessee about her reporting.

Archives On The 20: Frank Allyn—Wyoming's Road Map Pioneer

Jul 13, 2018
American Heritage Center

Frank Allyn joined the newly created Wyoming Highway Department in 1920 as a draftsman. At the time, the department was surveying existing roads across the state. By 1924 the survey was completed. From the results, Allyn created the first road map of Wyoming for the motoring public.

Kamila Kudelska


It's Christmas Eve 2000. The curator of the Draper Museum of Natural History, Dr. Charles Preston and his wife were driving along the North Fork corridor when they spotted a truck.

Archives On The Air 19: Marie Montabe, Determined WAC Recruiter

Jul 12, 2018
American Heritage Center

Marie Montabe was the wife of Albany County’s Woman’s Army Corps recruiter Harry Horton. She worked tirelessly to help her husband enlist young women, especially UW coeds, into the Corps during World War II.

Archives On The Air 16: Snow Chi Minh Trail

Jul 9, 2018
American Heritage Center

The 77 mile stretch of Interstate 80 between Laramie and Walcott Junction has been dubbed the “Snow Chi Minh Trail.”

Archives On The Air 15: Brassy Barbara Stanwyck

Jul 9, 2018
American Heritage Center

In 1934, the Hays Code was being strictly enforced in Hollywood to clean up alleged indecency in movies.

What spurred the prudish policing? Movies like Baby Face.

Archives On The Air 14: The Lone Scouts

Jul 9, 2018
American Heritage Center

Have you heard of the Lone Scouts? It was a brother organization to the Boy Scouts.

Archives On The Air 13: "Tom Dewey of the West"—Byron Hirst

Jul 9, 2018
American Heritage Center

Byron Hirst was called the “Tom Dewey of the West” after Thomas Dewey, a well-known New York prosecutor who fought organized crime.

Archives On The Air 12: Superhero Stan Lee

Jul 9, 2018
American Heritage Center

The superhero business is booming now, but that was not always the case.

When young Stanley Lieber landed his first job in 1939 with Timely Comics, the comics industry was lowbrow publishing.

Archives On The Air 11: Hopalong Cassidy

Jul 9, 2018
American Heritage Center

"The highest badge of honor a person can wear is honesty. Be truthful at all times.”

Many children in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s were familiar with these words - part of Hopalong Cassidy’s Creed for American Boys and Girls.

Archives On The Air 10: Antelope Charlie—Charles Belden Papers

Jun 29, 2018
American Heritage Center

Charles Belden became known as the Antelope King. This name came from his clever ways of reducing the number of pronghorn on his Pitchfork Ranch near Meeteetse.

Thomas Moran was one of the artist documenting the expansion to the West. He was on the first formal expedition in 1871 to Yellowstone country to document the geological wonders of the area.

Archives On The Air 7: Mary O'Hara—"My Heart Is In Wyoming"

Jun 26, 2018
American Heritage Center

Could successful screenwriter and socialite Mary O’Hara exchange her glitzy lifestyle for that of a Wyoming ranch wife? Her friends did not think so.

Kamila Kudelska

The American cheetah is a prehistoric mammal that roamed Northern Wyoming in the Miocene and the Pleistocene Epoch. The American cheetah is thought to be the driving evolutionary force responsible of the speed of today’s pronghorn antelope.

Miles Bryan


Aftab Khan and his family have lived in the Gillette area for over a hundred years, and a few years back the family opened a mosque there. Bret Colvin started a Facebook page called Stop Islam In Gillette and, after the mosque opened, he knocked on the door during services while a large number of people rallied behind him, some of them armed. The event was covered extensively in the local and the international news. Quickly, the online rhetoric between them grew ugly. 

But until now, they’ve never met in person.

Archives On The Air 4: Who Gets License Plate Number 1?—Jacob M. Schwoob Papers

Jun 21, 2018
American Heritage Center

The State of Wyoming began issuing motor vehicle license plates in 1913. Who got license plate number 1? The man who wrote the motor vehicle licensing law: Park County’s state senator Jacob M. Schwoob.

The Modern West 35: Forgotten Women Of The West

Jun 21, 2018

From washing the army’s clothes to solving murders, three authors tell the stories of strong Western women.

Archives On The Air 3: Gasoline Gypsies—The Cross-Country Drive Of Grace & Ester Robinson

Jun 20, 2018
American Heritage Center

In the 1920s, the automobile age was in full swing. American women began enjoying unprecedented social freedom by driving cars. The newfound freedom is illustrated by the cross-country drive of Grace Robinson and her sister Ester.

Archives On The Air 2: Who Was The Virginian? – Owen Wister Papers

Jun 19, 2018
American Heritage Center

Around 1891 western author Owen Wister began to create his most famous character. He created a Southern-born ranch hand who was hardened to the West, yet genteel. The character also voiced Wister’s conservative blue-blooded values. This character came to be known as The Virginian.

Archives On The Air 1: Laramie Inventor Elmer Lovejoy

Jun 18, 2018
American Heritage Center

Laramie’s mechanical genius Elmer Lovejoy designed and built Wyoming’s first automobile in 1895. It was a steam-propelled carriage that carried four people comfortably. It could be driven up to eight miles an hour. Lovejoy’s “horseless carriage” predated Henry Ford’s automobile by several years.

Kamila Kudelska


A new permanent exhibition at the Draper Natural History Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West focuses on golden eagle research but it also looks at how golden eagles have been and still are significant to the Plains Indian people.

Kamila Kudelska

When museums have special exhibitions, what visitors don't know is that it takes years for the exhibit to evolve from a concept to the moment you are standing in front of that famous work of art. The Whitney Western Art Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West just opened its new exhibit featuring the famous Western American artist, Albert Bierstadt. But the process behind securing loans is not so easy.

Rifle was a gift to the Buffalo Bill Museum from Mrs. George T. Beck in 1970.

There are stories, which pass through hearsay but one can never be sure if the story is completely true. The Buffalo Bill Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West was aware of a story behind a certain Winchester Carbine but not until recently were they able to prove it.

Courtesy of the Cody Firearms Museum

The earliest known reference to the Winchester Arms Collection is a letter from Oliver Winchester to R.S. Lawrence in 1871. Oliver Winchester asked to have the Jennings rifle for his collection because it was a link to the development of the Winchester lever action.

Bob Beck

Last week the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission voted to move forward with a plan that would lead to the hunting of up to 22 grizzly bears this fall and possibly more in the future. It would be the first grizzly bear hunt in Wyoming since the bear was listed as threatened in 1975. The hunt is part of the Game and Fish Department’s long-range plan for managing the grizzly. 

Albert Bierstadt—He’s a late 19th-century artist, most well-known for his majestic landscape paintings of the Wind River Range, Yellowstone and the American West. But there's more to him than paintings of grand open spaces. The Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody and the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma worked together to create an exhibit exploring Bierstadt’s influence on conservation and wildlife management in America. It’s called Albert Bierstadt: Witness to the Changing West. Kamila Kudelska speaks talks to three museum curators as they tell the little-known story of a beloved American artist. 

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