In the 1890s, Frank Sykes built a cabin on Crooked Creek. The cabin occupied a piece of high ground, giving views in all directions. Sykes selected this place not for the stunning beauty of the area; instead it was because he didn’t want anyone sneaking up on him.
How he got to the Crooked Creek area was disputed almost as much as his wife's death. Some say she died during childbirth, others that she was killed while defending Sykes from an attacker. She was buried near the cabin, but not on Sykes property. It was said that she was a little too friendly with some men in Billings. Perhaps just rumors or legends, when it came to Sykes the truth was always larger than life.
He tanned his own clothing. When this was in progress he posted a sign on his mail box stating, “No Visitors Today. This is Tanning Day.” One intrepid visitor found out why, Sykes tanned in the nude.
Until The Day He Died
A man by the name of George “Starky” Teeples made the list after he asked Sykes for a few of his plum trees. Sykes agreed, as long as Teeples did not take any of Mrs. Sykes trees, but Teeples took Mrs. Sykes trees anyway. It wasn’t long until Frank Sykes found Teeples, pulled his gun and made Teeples cut the trees into tiny little pieces.
A Third Helping
Colorful stories such as this abound when it comes to Sykes. In the late summer of 1921, Sykes was found by a young friend who had stopped by the cabin for a visit, slumped on his bunk, dead. His Colt 44 was hanging in a gun belt on the bed post, within reach of its legendary owner.
Did You Know?
Long before the Bighorn River was tamed by the Yellowtail Dam, the roiling waters through the canyon were feared. During spring snowmelt, the water turned into a raging torrent, a combination of whirlpools, rapids, and eddies. Conversely, the river through the canyon had a reputation for being placid by late summer, when dry heat and lack of rainfall turned it into a sedate stream. More...