Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Long Hot Train Ride and a Lynch Note, 1913

From: "Dirk A. D. Smith"

I am researching a curious event in 1913 and would like to add, while building the story, what travel would have been like for the gentleman concerned.

In July of that year, one Gilbert Lester Smith traveled from Atlantic City, New Jersey to Ranchester, Wyoming to take over and bring back to profitability a troubled lumber mill. The mill, the Big Horn Timber Company, made railroad ties for Burlington. The contract had been cancelled but the mill was to cut similar timber for area coal mines. The men at the mill were owed back wages (one month's worth) and wanted their money. Smith had the money following him. Upon arrival, they demanded payment which he said was coming. They did not believe him and he was sent a lynch note (which I have). He left – probably rather quickly – or I would never have come to be (he was my grandfather).

What I want to do is to create his travel experience.

Think of it: you are in your late 20s, you have promise, you are given the huge and exciting job of going from a highly developed seaside city to the rather wild, undeveloped northern border of Wyoming and saving a lumber mill from extinction. You travel (presumably by rail) in high summer in non-air conditioned railroad cars for 2,000 miles and at a time when people did not bathe often and most did not use deodorant ... only to arrive at your new job and be threatened with being hung so you turn around and (probably the next day) get back on the train east.

I am a journalist and, upon completion of this research, plan to publish the story. Any assistance would be much appreciated. ...

Dirk A. D. Smith, Hollis, New Hampshire