Trail End overlooking Sheridan, circa 1912 (Gwinn Collection, SCHS)

A Whole-House Exhibit at the Trail End State Historic Site

March 2014 - December 2015

Vacations at Dome Lake


​WHEN THE STRESS of life got to be too much, the Kendricks went on vacation. While Eula liked to travel to Denver, Chicago, and other cities for shopping and culture, her husband’s tastes were simpler. He took the family to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks, where they could admire the wonders of nature. His interest in vacationing in the outdoors also prompted him to sign on as one of the original investors in the Dome Lake Company, a private recreational enclave in the middle of the Bighorn National Forest. 



THE DOME LAKE COMPANY


The Dome Lake Company was founded in 1894 by four self-made men: Edward Gillette (the "discoverer" of the lake), George W. Holdrege, Charles N. Dietz and Henry E. Palmer. The latter two were Omaha businessmen while Gillette and Holdredge were employed by the Burlington Railroad (Gillette as surveyor and Holdrege as general manager). Most of the twenty-five original investors had close social or business ties with Holdrege and the Burlington Railroad, while several enjoyed similarly close relationships with the Sheridan Community: 


  • Edward Gillette moved to Sheridan and married the daughter of a prominent local family (Hallie Coffeen)
  • George Holdrege was a partner in the Wrench Ranch north of Sheridan as well as the Sheridan Land Company
  • Charles N. Dietz formed the Sheridan Coal Company and the mining town of Dietz
  • Henry Palmer, a soldier at the Battle of Tongue River in 1865, was a partner in the Sheridan Land Company
  • Thomas Rogers Kimball (Holdrege's brother-in-law) designed the Sheridan Inn
  • J. H. McShane operated the largest tie-cutting operation in the Big Horn Mountains


Most of the Nebraska partners viewed Dome Lake as a rustic getaway from the hustle and bustle of the business world. John Kendrick, too, saw the lake as the perfect alternative to the long-distance vacation: "It is my opinion one might consistently have a [place] which should give one a real opportunity to get a vacation near home in the summer time rather than going long distances away."


Fishing at Dome Lake was also a big attraction. First stocked in 1894, the high mountain lake provided a welcome escape from the heat and activity of summer, as John reminded Manville in 1926: "You are hereby cordially invited to attend a fishing party with me at Dome Lake during the early days of July. We ought to try to make the trip while the fish are biting and we will do this!" 



THE GREAT CLOUD PEAK EXPEDITION OF 1911


In addition to rest and relaxation, John liked to use the Dome Lake cabin as a base camp for extended camping trips. In 1911, he joined rancher Willis Spear and artist Bill Gollings in leading a group of thirty men and women (including Eula, Rosa-Maye and Manville) from Dome Lake to Cloud Peak, the highest peak in the Big Horns. Rosa-Maye's close friend, 15-year-old Elsa Spear, published an account of the journey in the September 1911 edition of The Ocksheperida, the Sheridan High School newspaper. In it, she described the group's July 8 climb of the 13,166 foot peak:


Arising at 4 a.m., we had breakfast, then started to climb at 6 o’clock. Everybody had one sandwich for lunch. It was bright and sunny when we started, with just a few clouds chasing each other around in the sky. There were twenty-eight of us, two of the men who went up two days before, went with us so we would be sure and go the right way. It was nothing but large boulders all the way up, with here and there a snow bank.


Before we got to the top of the peak the clouds came down over us and then it snowed. The wind came up each side of the peak, and whistled among the rocks until it sounded like a torrent rushing down a canyon. It was bitterly cold and some did not have gloves or sweaters along. It took some of us six hours to go up and six hours to come down. Others went up in two hours fifteen minutes, three hours, and four hours ten minutes. Two of the boys went up in an hour and fifty-five minutes, and so beat all former records. They ran all the way, though, and had on tennis shoes and hob-nail boots.


We looked at the records, on top, in a bottle, and according to them only about sixty people had made the climb in the last twenty years. Some people said that others had started with them but had given up and gone back to their camp. The first record was 1891. We could find only two records from Sheridan, but supposed that if there were more, someone must have let them blow away. The first lady went up in 1901 with her husband. They were from Chicago. A record which amused us said a young lady had started up with the party and that “she had done her darndest and that was as much as an angel could do.” According to the records most people did not think much of the weather, or the climb either. Two men had been up twice and one other man three times. One man stated he had climbed from the east side, but we couldn’t see how anyone could climb there, because that side slopes in and is a sheer drop to the canyon below.


The way the peak can be distinguished is a pass on the east side, we believe it is called “Tensleep Pass,” as the Tensleep Lakes are just below the peak. We carried canes up and made a fire with these which helped to keep us warm. By 7 o’clock we were all in camp, having hot soup and lemonade. That night eight decided to go back up the peak the next day as the view had been spoiled by the storm and the clouds.


According to The Sheridan Daily Enterprise, those who went up the next day reported a fabulous visage lay before them: "​The day was clear and a view for 200 miles was obtained. Devil's Tower in Crook county and the Black Hills in South Dakota were plainly visible." ​​


  • For the full text of both Elsie Spear's article and the one from The Enterprise, click here.

The Ties That Bind

Exploring the Relationship Between Sheridan & Trail End

 Manville Kendrick at Dome Lake Cabin (Kendrick Collection, TESHS)

 State Historic Site

Trail End