Recently, while researching my next book, I visited the Wyoming State Archives in Cheyenne.

Talk about OLD SCHOOL! I had to flip through long lines of old card catalog drawers to find what I was looking for.

That led me to filing cabinets with files full of documents and old newspaper clippings.

That's when I found a headline in an old Wyoming newspaper.

Namesake House To Contain First Bathroom.

This had NOTHING to do with what I was researching.

But it made me stop and read it.

Was the the first bathroom in Wyoming?

Wyoming talk host Glenn Woods - Photo by Tim Mandese
Wyoming talk host Glenn Woods - Photo by Tim Mandese

Let's define what a "bathroom" is.

Before indoor plumbing people pooped in a small building outside called an outhouse.

There would have been a pot under the bed for when someone had to pee in the middle of the night. That would have been disposed of in the morning.

If you read the old Wyoming-based novel The Virginian, you'll find references to someone "making their toilet" in various rooms. The word "toilet" had to do with washing, shaving, and combing the hair, and maybe some perfume. It had nothing to do with what you sat on when nature calls.

Wyoming talk host Glenn Woods - Photo by Tim Mandese
Wyoming talk host Glenn Woods - Photo by Tim Mandese

Then came indoor plumbing.

But there was nowhere to put the sink and latrine, (we later began to refer to the latrine as the toilet). So the plumbing was installed in the biggest closet in the house. That's where we got the term "water closet" from.

Later, homes were built with rooms just for the toilet, sink, and bathtub. Since we were to bath in this room it was called "the bathroom."

So when and where was the first "bathroom" built in Wyoming?

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According to this article, it was in the Mills Hotel in downtown Mills, Wyoming.

The article was published by the Casper Star Tribune on March 28, 1976.

But, obviously, the first bathroom would have been installed long before that date.

The article refers to The Mills Brothers who founded the town in the 1920's.

But one would think that the first indoor plumbing would have been built before then.

The first patent for an indoor flushing "toilet" was filed in 1776, in the USA. Yeah, the same year as the revolution.

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The lady who runs the Wyoming State Archives cautioned me as to the accuracy of such an article.

She advised me to make sure it was not written on April 1st.

Much like today's news, how do we know that this reporter got this story right?

As the old saying goes, don't believe everything you read in the newspapers.

I did a little online digging and found something in The Laramie Boomerang. 

The first Laramie sewage system was probably the one built in 1885 to serve the Union Pacific Hotel at the foot of Ivinson Avenue (then called South A Street). The 6-inch pipe ran 2,150 feet — directly to the Laramie River.

Two years earlier, it was reported the Trabing Building at Second and Garfield streets (then South C Street) was to have an indoor bathroom. Though big news at the time, it is not clear if the drain was to be connected to a cesspool or to the river.

A municipal sewage system did eventually develop; most Laramie houses built after 1885, including the 1892 Ivinson Mansion, had indoor plumbing. Few, if any, of the original privies still exist in the oldest parts of Laramie. Their original locations are clearly marked on the 1883 Sanborn insurance maps available on microfilm at Laramie libraries.

That's the best I could find concerning where the first Wyoming bathroom might have been.

Probably because people think that there are more important events to remember.


See that crapper by the lake? Its metal doors are full of bullet holes. You can see them in the photos below.

Golden Eye. It's a weird name for a Wyoming reservoir.  It makes a person wonder if whoever named it was a fan of the James Bond movie.

Located in western Natrona Country Wyoming the little body of water is about as unremarkable as you might think it is when you look at the photo above.

Yet the state of Wyoming thought to put a parking area out there, a couple of picnic tables, and a his and hers crapper.

YUP! The place is BORING. 

So boring that some bored yahoos decided to have a few beers, then a few more, and shoot the place up.


I gave the shooters the benefit of the doubt at first. Maybe one of their friends was constipated and they decided to scare the crap out of him.

But then again, probably not. It has to be nothing more than beer, boredom, and guns.

Upon inspecting the doors I noticed that not all of the bullets made it through to the other side.


Those bullets that did make it through were probably found sitting on the cement floor or stuck in the back wall.

It looks as if someone from the park service tried to fill some of the holes. That's probably a good thing. Not so much because of peepers but because the doors face the prevailing winds.

Those holes in the ground are drafty enough, underneath. We really don't need more wind coming in while we are sitting there.


Whoever was shooting out there knew that there was no way they would be caught. Gunshots are common out that way and no one thinks much of it. In most cases, there is no one around at all to hear it.

There is a heck of an echo inside these outhouses. It might not have sounded like much outside, but inside, - WOW!

Looking at these photos I wonder if the park service will ever bother touching up the paint job.


Look, I know you live in a part of Wyoming where there isn't much to do on a Saturday night. Also, this is Wyoming so drinking and shooting guns for fun is common.

But can we please not shoot up the crappers?

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Like much of Wyoming this park is a place where there is nowhere to hide when someone had to relieve the call of nature.

A crapper way out here is like an oasis in the desert. Though one you poop into, not drink out of.


No one in Wyoming will fault you for wanting to drink and shoot.

Just - please - don't shoot up the only crapper on the prairie. 

Tragic Wyoming Outhouse Wreck - Photo By Glenn Woods
Tragic Wyoming Outhouse Wreck - Photo By Glenn Woods

In the video below, you will see one of the most horrific tragedies Wyoming winds have wrought.

Imagine being alone on the prairie - no, not the prairie, but more like a desert region of this vast and beautiful state.

Nature calls you. By that, I do not mean the sound of nature, that haunting voice in your mind that beckoned you out to explore this magnificent desolate creation by God's hand. I mean - the other "nature calls." The one that cannot be ignored.

But where, way out here, can a person modestly - squat - to answer that call? The land is flat and open as far as the eye can see. True there is nobody for well over a hundred miles at least. But you know the cruel temperament and evil humor of lady luck. The moment you assume the most vulnerable posture, one that you cannot relax nor retreat from, someone will arrive to see you.

Perhaps that is why there is an outhouse way out here. Someone saw the need, and built one. According to the sign nearby, this land is a state park. Was our government watching out for our best interest even way out here?

It was just a simple wooden structure. But because it was government built, it must have cost over a million dollars, at least.

But the winds - those Wyoming winds. Like the haunting song about her, the Wyoming wind blows, unchanged, and it has tipped over the old wooden outhouse. 

Yes, the only place a civilized person would feel safe in over a hundred miles to drop trouser and -- it lays on its side, in the vast open sage of Wyoming.

Video of this tragedy below.

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