Crazy Woman Creek

I bet you’ve had a day like this: you accidentally cut a guy off while driving, so he sticks his unforgiving fist out the window and yells something like “Are you crazy, lady?” or maybe, “Go back to crazy town!” or my personal favorite, “Get off the crazy train!”

Well, now you may politely inform him that you were actually on your way to Crazy Woman Creek.


Crazy Woman Creek, courtesy of Wikipedia; Asiir

What a hootenanny of a place to get your glamp on! Below is one man’s recount of how the creek and campsite were given their names in the Bighorn National Forest.

The most persistent and credible explanation for the creek’s name has to do with a trader and his wife. According to Crow stories, in the mid-1840s, a man who was half Native American and half white built a small trading post with his white wife on the stream and were carrying on a successful business with the Indians. For some reasons, the trader began to give liquor to one of the older chiefs, a dignified man, who would then act strangely after his visits with the trader. The Crows soon figured out what was going on and the trader was compelled to provide all of the men in the village with plenty of “fire water.”

Once they had formed a dependency on the liquid, he began charging them more and more for drinks. Finally, he claimed to be out of liquor and said he would leave to obtain more. Since the trader had virtually all of the village goods by that time, they didn’t believe him. Rather, they suspected that he would now go to trade with their enemies, the Sioux. They killed and then scalped him in front of his wife and she was struck in the head with a tomahawk and left for dead, but not scalped. After the warriors had departed, a Crow woman saw that she was not dead and secretly nursed her back to health.

Thereafter, the trader’s wife lived in the area but was deathly afraid of the Crow warriors and would hide at their approach. Some of the Crow women continued to feed her for a time, but eventually she was never seen again and presumed dead from starvation or animal attack. The Crow annually returned to the area of the trader’s post and with time, the stream became known as the Crazy Woman’s Fork and then later Creek.

The preceding story has been attributed to a George P. Belden, a Second Lieutenant in the 2nd Cavalry, who was stationed at Fort Phil Kearny in 1867-68 and had lived with the Crow Indians in the years prior to his military service.

Click here for more legends on how the area was given its name.

There is also a book titled Crazy Woman Creek-Women Rewrite the American West and swag for sale on Zazzle! Wouldn’t a Crazy Woman hat be a great gift for a white elephant gift exchange? Or to wear while towing your glamper headed for a certain campground in Wyoming?


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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Now, that is one story! Thankfully, visiting this beautiful part of the country no longer harbors an uncertain ending!

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