Upcoming Events

"Wyoming Navy" Exhibition Opening


The Campbell County Rockpile Museum is pleased to announce a new traveling exhibition now displayed on the Roy Lowell Memorial Exhibition Wall in the Museum’s Annex Building.  Wyoming Navy features photographs and information about ships named for Wyoming’s people and places. On loan from the Fort Caspar Museum, the exhibit contains 26 panels with photos and history of 40 U.S. Navy craft beginning with the earliest ship in 1900, up through ships that are in service today. The type of vessels featured range from simple tugboats to a nuclear-powered submarine capable of launching multiple nuclear missiles.

Fort Caspar Museum staff along with a Casper College museum studies intern researched the ships and have included information about the shipyards where vessels were constructed, the dates they were commissioned and decommissioned, crew and armament sizes, and missions in which they were involved during both times of peace and war. 

Among the ships featured in the exhibit is the USS Eisele which was named for George Raymond “Spud” Eisele, a Gillette-born sailor who was killed in action on November 12, 1942 during the naval battle at Guadalcanal.  On display with the exhibit is the christening bottle used by Mrs. George A. Eisele, Spud’s mother, to launch the ship on June 29, 1943. 

Wyoming Navy has toured the state in the past few years and was sponsored in part by Casper Memorial VFW Post 9439 and Auxiliary as well as the Fort Caspar Museum Association.

The exhibit will be on display at the Campbell County Rockpile Museum (900 W 2nd St, Gillette, WY) from Tuesday, October 12th until Friday, December 31st.

An exhibition opening event will take place on Thursday, November 11th with exhibition viewing beginning at 5:30 p.m.  Have you ever wondered what life aboard a ship was like?  At 6:30 p.m., Museum Volunteer and Retired Navy Chaplain Bob Brown will guide guests through the exhibit, share history of some of the ships, and help attendees gain a better understanding of the work, living conditions, and sacrifices of those who serve aboard U.S. Navy vessels.  Chaplain Brown will share his experiences aboard USS Detroit (AOE-4) from 1981 to 1984 including daily routine, eating and sleeping conditions, and some of the hardships and benefits of Navy life.  The exhibit will close for the evening at 8:00 p.m.

USS Eisele DE34

Dave McKee Presents: "The Historic Bozeman Trail: A New Journey"


The Rockpile Museum is pleased to welcome Dave McKee to the museum on Tuesday, October 19th at 6:30 p.m. for a presentation on the history and future of the Bozeman Trail.  The Bozeman Trail was established in 1863 as a 535-mile “shortcut” from the Oregon Trail on the North Platte River in Wyoming to the gold fields near Virginia City, Montana Territory.  Increased civilian use prompted a campaign by Indian tribes against the incursion. In response the U.S. military established Forts Reno and Phil Kearny in Wyoming and C. F. Smith in Montana to protect travelers. Conflict escalated, resulting in what is commonly called “Red Cloud’s War” with numerous skirmishes and three major battles including the Fetterman battle in 1866 and the Wagon Box and Hayfield fights in 1867.  

Dave McKee will review the history of the Bozeman Trail between 1863 and 1868, highlighting prominent participants such as John Bozeman, Colonel Henry Carrington, Lieutenant William Judd Fetterman, Margaret Carrington, Francis Grummond Carrington, and John “Portugee” Philips, as well as Indian leaders including Red Cloud, High Backbone, American Horse, and Crazy Horse.

Today segments of the original wagon trail ruts, serve as the physical markers of this colorful and dynamic period of history.  The Fort Phil Kearny/Bozeman Trail Association in partnership with Our Montana have begun a new journey to obtain formal listing of the Bozeman Trail as a National Historic Trail.  Dave will provide an overview of the process and update on this project.

This event is FREE and open to the public.  The presentation will also be livestreamed on the Rockpile Museum’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. 

About Dave McKee:

Dave McKee is president of the Fort Phil Kearny/Bozeman Trial Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, development, education, and promotion of the Bozeman Trail and associated historic sites including Fort Phil Kearny, Fetterman Battlefield, and Wagon Box Battlefield National Historic Landmarks. He currently serves as co-chairman of the Bozeman National Historic Trail project.

Dave received a master’s degree in anthropology with an emphasis in plains archaeology from the University of Wyoming. He recently completed a 32-year career with the U.S. Forest Service as an archaeologist, tribal liaison, and recreation program manager, working on the Medicine Bow, Black Hills, and Bighorn National Forests. Dave served as the Bighorn National Forest liaison to the National Park Service and American Indian representatives in completion of the Medicine Wheel /Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark Nomination in 2011 and remains active as a consulting party for this sacred landscape. Dave and his wife Susan live in Sheridan, Wyoming.

Dave McKee Bozeman Trail