Day 10, Wednesday, July 25, 2018
After my nap, I was tempted to just stay at camp, but there were still things in Sheridan that I wanted to see. That evening, there was an open house at Trail End State Historic Site, which is a 13,748 square foot mansion that was built by John B. Kendrick in 1913. Kendrick was from Texas, and he first traveled to Wyoming as a cow hand with a herd of cattle in 1879; he moved to the Sheridan area in 1889 an then founded the Kendrick Cattle Company. Kendrick married a woman from Greeley, Colorado and they had two children while building their cattle business.
He had the home built as a grand showpiece; construction began in 1908 but labor issues, low cattle prices, arguments between the two architects, and other delays meant that it was not completed until 1913. As I understand it, it was named Trail End because it was meant to be the end of the trail for the family. However, they only lived here full-time for a short period; in 1914, Kendrick was elected to be Wyoming’s Governor and moved to Cheyenne, and then two years after that, became a US Senator, an office he held until his death in 1933. They primarily used the home as a vacation home during that time. Kendrick’s widow Eula lived in the home with their son and his family from 1933 until her death in 1961.
The house is incredible; it is one of the only examples of Flemish Revival architecture in the Western United States. It has all the modern conveniences of the time, including electricity and indoor plumbing, a laundry room in the basement, an intercom system and a built-in vacuum system. The house has ten bedrooms, twelve bathrooms, eight fireplaces, and all the usual entertaining spaces, including a ballroom on the top floor. The woodwork is Honduran mahogany, and it has a beautiful custom designed white oak staircase.
After Eula’s death, the family moved out and the home sat empty for 7 years; it was almost torn down! Thankfully, the Sheridan County Historical Society purchased the home in 1968, and it was transferred to the state of Wyoming in 1982. Most of the decor and furnishings are original to the Kendrick family – it truly is a glimpse into what a wealthy cattle ranching family home would look like. There is also information on the family in the home; including the fact that they lived much more modestly as Kendrick was building his fortune as a young cattle rancher.
The open house was well attended; there were lots of people there enjoying the opportunity to do a self-guided tour of the home, as well as cookies and lemonade! I took my time going through the house and checking out the amenities that it had. You could tour the grounds as well, and enjoy the blooming flowers in the gardens around the house. They even had a classic car parked out on the driveway – it was a gorgeous bright blue!
On the way back to the campsite, I decided to make a quick stop at the historic Sheridan Inn, a hotel that was built in 1892 and opened in 1893. Buffalo Bill Cody was a part owner of the Inn, and he held auditions for his Wild West Show on the lawn in front. It was closed for many years, but found new owners who restored it and reopened it in 2015. When I stopped by, the owner, Bob, was there and he welcomed me in warmly, and said I was welcome to wander around the first floor and check it out. I took him up on his offer and saw the parlor and the dining room, as well as the original check in desk in the lobby. It is a beautiful place, and they did a wonderful job with the restoration.
I was so happy that I ventured out, even though I hadn’t really felt like it earlier in the evening. I got to see two historic sites , and talk to some great people who felt passionate about history too! It was a good end to the day.