Baggs, Wyo. is one of those tiny communities in Wyoming you have to get to on purpose. It’s not on an interstate route and it’s not on the way to a larger city like Casper or Denver or Billings. You have to want to go there. You need to have a reason.
I was lucky enough to have a reason to venture to Baggs, Wyo. Its population, according to the town web site, is 348. Its history includes being stomping grounds for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Its people are one of a kind.
When I traveled to Baggs for the first time last summer, I wasn’t sure what I was going to get. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m no stranger to small towns. I was born in Chugwater, Wyo. Home of Chugwater Chili and 244 residents. But every small town has its own culture and I wanted the Baggs community members to like me. I mean really like me (channeling Sally Field).
You see, I was visiting Baggs as an intern for the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. WSGA teamed up with Encana Oil & Gas to go into five rural communities for a rural development project called Community Dialogues for Rural Wyoming. Long story short, Baggs, Boulder, Kaycee, Lusk and Shoshoni told us what they wanted in order to strengthen their communities’ futures. What they wanted was to be able to tell their remarkable stories. RealRanchers.com does just that.
One of the families that welcomed me into their community was the O’Toole Family who ranches south of Baggs. As 4th generation ranchers on an operation of six generations, Pat and Sharon O’Toole raise sheep and cattle while constantly working to improve the land that sustains them. They have great help in this endeavor from their daughter Meghan, her husband Brian Lally, their son Eamon and his wife Megan.
Sharon O’Toole tells the family stories on their blog at http://www.westernfolklife.org/weblogs/artists/sharono/. We’ll be sharing her stories with you through RealRanchers.com, so look forward to seeing her amazing photos and stories about the every day miracles of ranch life.
Thanks to the Baggs community for welcoming me. As in any small community, it’s not just those in the town limits that make the place tick, it’s the entire rural character that keeps things chugging. I’m grateful to have a role in telling their stories.
From RealPartner Liz LeSatz, Wyoming Stock Growers Association