By Bennett Owen
It’s safe to say that, in terms of popularity, Amelia Earhart was the Angelina Jolie of her day ... wildly famous and equally wealthy, with an independent and adventurous, high-flying persona that resonated with the can-do mindset of the American public. She could have chosen any place in the world to settle down ... she chose western Wyoming.
And in doing so, became a regular patron at the Cowboy Bar. Amelia was a pint-sized pilot but like most of her profession, had nothing against knocking back the liquor on occasion.
In the mid-1930s, flying was still in its infancy and Earhart was at the top of her game. She and her husband, George Putnam, honeymooned at the “Double D” Dude Ranch near the ghost town of Kirwin outside Meeteetse. The outfit was owned by friend and fellow adventurer, Carl Dunrud.
Amelia Earhart and Carl Dunrud on the Double D. Credit: BBHC MCCracken Collection
Credit: Cowboy Bar, Meeteetse and My-West.com ©
Amelia fell in love with the mountain hideaway and there are rumors she fell in love with more than that …
Carl M. Dunrud and Amelia Earhart, 1934 at the Double D Ranch. Credit: Big Horn Basin Photos from Wyoming Tales and Trails, Kirwin, Wyoming.
Credit: Cody Chamber of Commerce
She left instructions for a cabin to be built there as a home away from home after she completed her quest to become the first person to fly solo around the world. It was to be her last flight.
Credit: True West Magazine
Credit: Meeteetse, Wyoming.com
The ranch owner (and erstwhile barber) got to work on the cabin but stopped after hearing of her disappearance. She had already sent a lot of her possessions to Wyoming and years later Dunrud contributed some of them to the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody including a flight jacket and a buffalo skin coat – an artifact from the Indian wars presented to her by William S. Hart, a famous actor of the time.
Credit: My Vintage Photos.com
Amelia Earhart and William S. Hart. Credit: archives.lib.purdue
You’ll need a four-wheel drive to get into the Kirwin ghost town and the remains of Earhart’s cabin ... crumbling ... unfinished ... waiting for her return.
Credit: Big Horn Basin Photos from Wyoming Tales and Trails, Kirwin, Wyoming c. 1930