Date line: Hat Creek
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
The restoration of the Hat Creek Stage Station is a "Lasting Legacy" project of the Niobrara County Wyoming Centennial Committee. This column is being established to help inform our readers about the historical significance of Hat Creek by sharing interesting facts from the last 100 years. Readers are also asked to share information they have that may be included in the column.
Nebraska became a state in 1867 - then Wyoming and the Dakota territories were formed in 1868. That same year the federal government concluded the "Fort Laramie Treaty" with the Sioux nation. That treaty gave the land, north from the Platte to the Yellowstone River and from the Big Horn Mountains to the Missouri River in Wyoming and Dakota Territory, to the Sioux.
The area that was to become Hat Creek, Wyo. was important to the early travelers and local Indians. It was on a well-established route from the Black Hills to the Rawhide Buttes and the Platte river near Ft. Laramie. An example of the use of that route occurred in 1870.
Neither the U.S. nor the Indians were entirely satisfied wit the Treaty of 1868 and the government was trying to get the "wild" Indians to come to Ft. Laramie for a pow wow. Red Cloud was the recognized leader of the Sioux at that time and wanted to continue to trade and receive his issue of goods at Ft. Laramie. But the government wanted to establish an Indian agency at Rawhide in order to keep the Indians north of the Platte. Most of the chiefs came to Ft. Laramie for the meeting, but Red Cloud delayed. Since he was the key to an agreement, nothing happened.
Finally, in October, after the summer hunt was over, Red Cloud sent word from the "forks of Lance Creek" (presumably where Old Woman Creek joins Lance Creek) that he was ready to come in. The government sent a delegation there to escort Red Cloud and his encampment to Ft. Laramie up Old Woman Creek to the Rawhide and thence to Ft. Laramie. (Sage Creek was often called South Ford of Old Woman Creek.)