Adobe Town, Red Desert, near Wamsutter, Wyoming

Desert Dust mural in Rawlins, WY

David Egolf: In June 2014 I interviewed 89-year-old Jack Price of Huron, SD, author of “Wild Horse Robbins.” In the 1940’s, Mr. Price, along with his father and four older brothers, worked as cowboys for Frank Robbins in his wild horse operation in the Red Desert. During his tenure as a cowboy, between the ages of 12 and 15, Price lived with his family in a small log house in the Red Desert. His work for Robbins included riding horseback to help herd wild horses into several temporary corrals, one located among the steep chalk bluffs of Adobe Town. Mr. Price told me that the palomino stallion known as “Desert Dust” was driven into and held in the Adobe Town corral. A Rawlins photographer, J. L. Verne Wood, who happened to be present during that roundup in 1945, snapped the now famous photo of Desert Dust. A hand-tinted version of the black-and-white photo appeared in many magazines of that day. In the early 1950’s, a larger famed print of the Desert Dust photo was presented to Wyoming Senator O’Mahoney. It hung on his office wall in the U.S. Senate office building for many years, but its whereabouts are unknown today. I have seen large framed prints of Mr. Wood’s hand-tinted photo of Desert Dust hanging behind bars in Rock River (Double-Shot Bar) and in Medicine Bow (The Virginian Bar). I have also seen the mural of Desert Dust that was painted on the west-facing wall of a building in Rawlins. In addition, Mr. Wood sold hundreds of signed 8 by 10 prints, and even authored a book of poems about Desert Dust. His captor, Frank Robbins, tried unsuccessfully to break the wild stallion, and finally gave up, using him as rodeo stock in his Glenrock Rodeo. The horse sired several colts on Robbins’ ranch before being shot and killed by an unknown person. Publicity generated by Mr. Wood’s Desert Dust photo alerted a whole generation of people to the potential demise of wild horses in the Western U. S. There are few symbols that remind us of freedom and independence like the photo of Desert Dust. I understand remnants of the original corral in Adobe Town that held Desert Dust are still standing. At the very least, that corral and its immediate environs, if not the whole of Adobe Town deserves historic designation and protection from industrialization such has road building and well-site construction.


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  • bySandy Kyros
    Posted October 12, 2015 3:44 pm 0Likes

    Thank you for your efforts in keeping the memory of the beautiful Desert Dust and Frank Robbins alive. I grew up with a print of the marvelous stallion hanging on my bedroom wall and just like Frank Robbins, I dreamed many dreams of riding Desert Dust across the plains of Wyoming.
    Many years ago I had the opportunity to meet Uncle Frank (yes, my uncle) – on his ranch, or rather what was left of his ranch. But I assure you – Desert Dust was more than a memory to Frank Robbins – many photos and memorabilia flooded the modest home – as well as rodeo photos and other lesser known steeds. It was a memory I’ll cherish forever.
    So, again, thank you for your efforts and all you do to preserve the memories and dignity of the "wild west".
    Sandy Stevenson Kyros

  • byLarry Lawton
    Posted December 27, 2016 10:20 pm 0Likes

    Well, out west, we never let the truth interfere with a good story. Anyone else out there old enough to remember post cards with that colored photograph of Desert Dust? Seems like they were for sale at most service stations near Rawlins and Medicine Bow. I had one, and prized it! I also remember my cousins telling me that my my uncle Ed Gore had a brother who actually had part ownership in Desert Dust. Sorry, don’t remember his name. One fond memory was going on a wild horse roundup with another uncle, Jim Robbins of Marshall, Wyoming. Must have been about 1950. The got some good horses, but many of the best ones running with the band had already been claimed and branded.

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