National Register of Historic Places

J. D. Woodruff Cabin Site

Hot Springs

Date Added to Register

Thursday, February 26, 1970

Smithsonian Number


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The Woodruff Cabin was the first recorded white man's home built in the Big Horn Basin. In 1871 the Basin was the chief hunting grounds of both Crow and Shoshone tribes, and was also subjected to raids by war parties of the Arapahoe, Cheyenne and Sioux nations. The cabin on Owl Creek was probably built as the base of operations for an enterprising trapper and prospector, John Dwight Woodruff. During the 1870s Woodruff first gained the respect and later the friendship of Chief Washakie. After a trip to Oregon, he returned driving some six thousand head of ''Oregon woolies''. By arrangement with Chief Washakie he grazed these sheep for a number of years along the northern side of the Wind River and he may have found summer pasture for his flocks on the summits of the Owl Creek Mountains. His Owl Creek cabin home may have figured in the first large scale sheep ranch operation in Wyoming. Sometime around 1880 Woodruff brought cattle into the Owl Creek country and began a cow operation with the Owl Creek cabin as the headquarters.

Early in the 1880s Woodruff sold the Owl Creek cabin to Captain R. A. Torrey of the Fort Washakie garrison. Captain Torrey and his brother, Colonel J. L. Torrey, built up a large cattle and horse ranch. Woodruff's old Owl Creek cabin came to be known as the Embar Ranch. At one time, some forty thousand cattle and more than six thousand horses carried the M- brand. Embar Ranch buildings gradually replaced the original cabin which is no longer in existence.

Early Photo of Woodruff Cabin on file at the State Historic Preservation Office

Department of State Parks & Cultural Resources