With sparkling blue eyes and a long beard, John Blue made quite an impression on those who met him. Blue came to the Bighorn country following World War I. He claimed to have deserted the German Army and made his way to the United States via Cuba and Mexico. Blue worked for a while as a blacksmith before turning to coyote trapping in order to make a living. He also raised a garden and hunted deer to put food on his table.
A Suspicious Mind
He built a stone dugout for quarters, complete with a makeshift periscope to watch for trespassers. Unfortunately it did not work. One day he discovered strychnine in his oatmeal, this led to a paranoia. Blue did not take into account that he kept the poison to kill coyotes, or the fact that it probably was scattered into his food by mice and rats that were his only company in the dugout.
Going To Meet The President
Hitching up a horse, along with a couple of pack animals, he set off for Washington to speak with the chief executive personally. He made it to Worland, 70 miles to the south. A friend was called to come get him. Blue was taken to the county courthouse where he promptly pitched a tent on the lawn. Finally the friend, Chris Lynn, escorted him back to Lovell.
Following this incident, John Blue was committed to the Wyoming State Insane Asylum, where he committed suicide. The John Blue dugout today still stands, albeit in dilapidated fashion. It is just outside the park boundary.
(Sources: Bighorn Canyon Historic Resource Study, Edwin Bearss)
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...