SWEETWATER COUNTY — An original homestead cabin just southeast of the Indoor Arena at the Sweetwater Events Complex pays quiet tribute to the early pioneers of this region.
The cabin was built in the LaBarge area just after the turn of the twentieth century, probably in 1905, Events Complex Purchasing and Operations Assistant Tamara Musgrove said. “The cabin came from the Dry Piney Creek area and was a 320-acre homestead with cattle and sheep,” she explained. “It was built with hand-cut logs from Deadline Ridge and Black Canyon Ridge. Horses dragged the logs to the construction site.” Musgrove added that the homestead belonged to the Marx family, early settlers in Sweetwater County soon after Wyoming achieved statehood in 1890. The cabin has a light sod thatch roof, resembling the original sod roof from 111 years ago.
LaBarge area resident Tom Harrower purchased the cabin in the 1950s and donated it to the Events Complex in the mid-1980s, Musgrove said. A local builder, Garland McMartin, took the cabin apart, numbered the logs, and reassembled the homestead cabin at the Events Complex. “The cabin was a nice backdrop at the high school rodeo,” Musgrove said. “We wanted to improve it and we need to do more research on it. There is a plaque outside the cabin honoring the Marx family and Tom Harrower. It has a restructured and reinforced roof and an irrigation system for the wildflowers and shrubs around it. There are 40 trees near the cabin, and we want it to be a nice place for hosting weddings. We brought in 120 tons of topsoil around the cabin. You have to bring in topsoil for growing in this area.”
The cabin is open to foot traffic only, with the interior consisting of one room of frontier basic at present. Events Complex maintenance worker Heath Lewis did extensive work at and around the cabin, constructing the log entrance, the pinewood fence surrounding the cabin, and adding a new front door, Musgrove said.
Lewis added his own take on the ambience that the homestead cabin lends to the Events Complex. Lewis, who has worked at the Events Complex for the past five years, has seen many of the changes which have taken place there, with his work at the homestead cabin representing a substantial contribution.
“The cabin and the log entrance have that old-fashioned look to them. They create a big welcome. We’ve come a long way in the past four years,” Lewis said.
“The Fair Board felt it was a great unused area and they wanted to honor the pioneer heritage of Sweetwater County,” Musgrove explained. Thus, the effort began to improve the looks of the cabin and its environs. Boulders were brought in from Atlantic City, Wyoming; landscaping was upgraded with peachleaf willow and cottonwood trees, also aspen, spruce, and sumac. A wagon for flowers was donated. “We wanted to create a more naturalized area for wildlife and the ducks that come to the pond nearby,” Musgrove said. “Hopefully next year all of the landscaping will mature.”
The improvements to the cabin are just part of the overall plan to make the Events Complex a place where families will want to come and spend time even when there is no big event such as the National High School Finals Rodeo or the county fair, Wyoming’s Big Show, taking place.
Musgrove said that a gazebo will hopefully be built not far from the cabin, creating a pleasant picnic area and gathering spot for families and groups. “It’s a nice place for weddings, birthday parties and other family events,” Musgrove said.