U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
|Rock Springs Field Office|
by George Stephens
Adventurous men, some good, some bad, had many stories woven around them in the early days. Jack Morrow was one of the bad ones. He started his career on the plains as a common thief and later went into the upper brackets of swindling. There is no record of his shady activities before he appeared on the Wyoming plains in the late fifties, although he was well known in Nebraska and Denver long before the coming of the railroad.
He began as a teamster hauling freight from Omaha to Denver and Salt Lake. During this time he accumulated a stake by tapping his freight and stealing part of each load. He was also a braggart and boaster. He would find out who had money, then manage to waylay or rob them so he became prosperous and rich and wore a huge diamond pin.
Alex Constant became his partner and the two operated a trading post about 1860. Later Jack robbed his partner, fled and established his famous Junction ranch near here. He built a story and-a-half house sixty feet long, and dug deep ditches to make the emigrants pass his ranch so he could steal their livestock. The ditches can still be seen. It was risky to claim the lost livestock, for Morrow's reputation was well known. He hired both Indians and white men to steal the stock. A high point was used for a lookout. Today, the figure of a Sioux Indian scout stands on the point where a view of the valley extends for miles.
Each year, Jack made a trip to Omaha with the freight wagons piled high. He recognized the possibility of mining lignite coal so operated a mine near Black Buttes before the railroad came. He secured a contract to furnish the Union Pacific with ties and 25, 000 cords of wood to be cut between Black Buttes and Green River. He boasted of short-counting and hollow-centers in the piles of timber.
Once in a poker game he won $60,000 from a group of men sent from Washington to investigate irregularities in government contracts. Omaha at the time tolerated open gambling.
His first wife, a squaw, died and he married a white woman who proved to be the daughter of a man he once robbed. He became a county commissioner in Lincoln County, Nebraska Territory, but soon his gambling and drinking consumed his wealth and he died in poverty in 1885.
In spite of his reputation, his name has been perpetuated in Sweetwater County. Jack Morrow Creek, Jack Morrow Canyon, and Jack Morrow Hills are all named for this scalawag.