Trail End opens for its 2012 season on Sunday, April 1st at 1:00 p.m. Wyoming’s premier historic house museum, the Trail End State Historic Site has greeted thousands of visitors, from family and friends to school children and international tourists, since its construction in 1913 and its opening as a museum in 1982. Built by cowboy-turned-politician John B. Kendrick, Trail End displays an elegantly different aspect of both Wyoming’s colorful ranching history and Sheridan’s rich western heritage.
For modern day visitors, Trail End offers a fun and educational experience. Combined with rooms full of original furnishings and artifacts, its many exhibits and displays examine life in Sheridan during the years 1913 to 1933, mostly through the eyes of its original owners, the Kendrick family.
Designed by Billings, Montana, architect Glenn Charles McAlister, Trail End was intended to serve as both the Kendrick family residence and as a symbol of the family=s success. Starting out as a penniless, ill-educated orphan in rural Texas, John Kendrick had gone to work as a cowboy, prospered into one of the wealthiest cattlemen in the state, and attained political success as both governor of Wyoming and United States Senator.
The work of building Trail End began in 1908. Five years later, the home was complete and the family – John, his wife Eula, and their teenaged children Rosa-Maye and Manville – moved in. With its electricity, running water, intercoms, dumbwaiters and even a stationary central vacuum cleaning system, Trail End was quite a change from the log cabin and kerosene lamp lifestyle the family had known up to that point.
Built on a hill offering the very best view of the nearby Bighorn Mountains, the 13,000 square foot Flemish Revival mansion is surrounded by nearly four acres of groomed grounds, gardens and orchards. Over one hundred trees and shrubs dot the landscape, ranging from native Juniper and Blue Spruce to exotic Southern Catalpa and Norwegian Maple. A grass tennis court graces the northwest corner of the grounds while a sunken rose garden adds charm to the southern expanse.
Inside, Trail End is fully furnished in such a way that visitors are immediately struck by the home=s combined sense of historical accuracy and family intimacy. From the massive sideboard and table in the formal dining room to the twin double beds in the master bedroom, nearly everything that meets the visitor=s eye is original to the home. In the drawing room, for example, Manville’s checkers and checkerboard sit on a cherry wood game table; Rosa-Maye’s correspondence is scattered about the original mahogany desk; Eula’s sterling silver tea service sits on the tea table, along with pieces of her Minton Rose china; John’s magazines lay on an easy chair, awaiting perusal.
Displays are designed to look as if a family member had just left the room. In the master bedroom, evening clothes are laid out on the bed, all ready to be put on before heading out for a night on the town; cut flowers and a vase sit by the kitchen sink, ready to be trimmed and arranged; material and patterns are scattered about the maid’s bed, ready to be turned into a new summer frock on the nearby treadle sewing machine.
New at Trail End this year is a whole-house exhibit entitled The Ad Made Me Buy It: The Power of Advertising in the Early 20th Century. According to Site Superintendent Cynde Georgen, putting the exhibit together involved a particularly entertaining round of research. “We have illustrated the exhibit with advertisements from magazines in the Trail End collection. It was fun for us to flip through the pages of a 1913 magazine – McCall’s or Sunset, for example, and see ads for many of the same products we purchase today: from soup and corn flakes to automobiles and batteries. The ads were very colorful, but sometimes a little strange. You wouldn’t find an ad today for a “pneumatic bust enhancer” or a “proven weight gain program!”
The Ad Made Me Buy It will be on display at Trail End throughout the 2012 season, which continues through Thursday, December 14th. The Trail End State Historic Site is located at 400 Clarendon Avenue in Sheridan, just minutes from the historic Main Street District, Kendrick Park, the Sheridan County Rodeo grounds, and the Historic Sheridan Inn.
Spring and fall hours are 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. daily, seven days a week. Summer hours of 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. begin June first and continue through the end of August. The site will be open the Saturday, Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., as well as all day on the Fourth of July.
Admission is $4.00 for adults ($2.00 discount for Wyoming residents), with children seventeen and under admitted free (when accompanied by an adult). The site is nearly one hundred percent handicapped accessible. Trail End is a component of the Division of State Parks & Historic Sites, Wyoming Department of Parks and Cultural Resources. For more information, phone Trail End at 307-674-4589, or visit the Trail End website, http://www.trailend.org.