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Home Tourist Attraction Wyoming’s Hell’s Half Acre May Become A Tourist Attraction Again

Wyoming’s Hell’s Half Acre May Become A Tourist Attraction Again

by Staff

Work is underway to reopen Hell’s Half Acre in Wyoming.

The Natrona County Parks Department, The Natrona County Outdoor Recreation Collaborative, and Visit Casper, are spearheading a movement to reopen the park.

The idea is to repave the parking lot, replace and upgrade the picnic area, install some toilet facilities, and remove that ugly tall chain link fence with the wire at the top for something short and more attractive.

Located just west of Casper, Wyoming, Hell’s Half Acre was created in, perhaps the last two million years.

It’s a cross between Badlands and Hoodoos.

Wind and water have eroded an area that is so interesting it has been a local tourist attraction and a movie set.

At one time there was even a hotel located on the site.

It was the backdrop for the movie Starship Troopers as an alien bug planet.

But in 2005 the least holders on the hotel’s site moved to Laramie.

The current park area was left to be taken over by the elements.

A tall fence with wire on top was put up to keep people from going down in there.

They would also like to bring people into the archer for a tour.

The trick would be to allow them down there without damaging the delicate nature of the area. It’s mostly soft sand and limestone.

There is lots of evidence of ancient life down there that no longer walks the planet, including early horses that would have been much smaller and quite different looking from the horses that were later brought over by the Spanish.

The earliest human evidence of people being down in Hell’s Half Acre is perhaps 10,000 years ago.

Though, back then the place would have looked a bit different, yet still impressive.

In the early days of Casper, many attempts were made to make the site a tourist attraction, including national advertising.

The photo below was part of a postcard that folks could send to their friends while they were on vacation.

attachment-Hells Half Acre Ad Youtube WPM

Calling the rock formations down in the acer HOODOOS might make you wonder what a hoodoo is.

When I first moved to Wyoming, about 11 or so years ago, I saw some rock formations the likes of which I had never known existed. I tried describing them to some locals.

“I did not know the Earth did that,” I said.

“You found the hoodoos,” I was told.

Hearing that word confused me a little. I grew up in the Deep South. Down there “hoodoos” mean something very different. It has nothing to do with a rock formation.

The photos you’ll see below were taken by artist and photographer Tim Mandese near Casper, Wyoming. But this is just one sort of hoodoo. They can come in many different sizes and shapes.

HooDoos near Casper Wyoming Photo By Tim Mandese

HooDoos near Casper Wyoming Photo By Tim Mandese

In the South, the word “hoodoo” comes from Voodoo. It refers to strange spirits or a single strange spirit at work. Down south a hoodoo can be a spirit raised from the dead by voodoo or even a zombie. It could be a spirit that never left or came back naturally. Or it could be a natural spirit like the spirit of nature itself.

The band Creedence Clearwater Revival’s hit song Born On A Bayou mentions a boy’s dog chasing after a strange spirit that the boy could not see.

I can still hear my old hound dog barkin’
Chasin’ down a hoodoo there
Chasin’ down a hoodoo there

I wondered how the word that I had grown up with in the South had made it to Wyoming and was used for rock formations. The answer makes a lot of sense.

HooDoos near Casper Wyoming Photo By Tim Mandese

HooDoos near Casper Wyoming Photo By Tim Mandese

To the American Indian strange rock formations happened because of the presence of strange spirits. These areas were considered sacred ground and in some cases even left alone.

When new people came across the land in covered wagons they asked the Indians what caused those strange formations. They were told, “strange spirits.” This made sense, and there was already a word for those strange spirits. Hoodoos.

HooDoos near Casper Wyoming Photo By Tim Mandese

HooDoos near Casper Wyoming Photo By Tim Mandese

At some point, the name for these strange spirits was attached to the rock formations themselves. Now the strange rock formations are called hoodoos rather than it referring to the strange spirits active in the area.

The gentleman in the video below is hiking an area called The Hoodoos in Yellowstone National Park.

Devil’s Tower is a massive hoodoo. Hell’s Half Acre as well as Devil’s Gate are hoodoo formations. Do you notice how many of these places are named after spiritual things, even in English?

When white men first saw Devils Tower they asked the Indians what it was called. The Indians tried to explain the “bad god,” or perhaps the “mischievous god” that caused it and who inhabited the area. The closest translation the white man had for that was The Devil. So, they began to call it Devils Tower. That is not what the Indians meant and they are not happy about the translation to this day.

So, if you are exploring Wyoming and you see rock formations of any sort that leave you scratching your head just remember, this is sacred ground. Strange spirits are active here. Tread carefully and be respectful.

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