The Ghost Of Wyoming’s Lightning Cowboy
We saw him sitting high in the saddle, the old-timer explained. The silhouette of his large rimmed cowboy hat eclipsed the moon that was sinking behind the bluffs.
Dinner was served at the chuckwagon in the valley below. I was down there. A young fool like the rest of them, eating my pork and beans. Thinking the day was done.
But that cowboy knew better when he heard the sound of the rushing wind from Cody crossing the grass toward Worland. The dinner bell rang again and the cook called his name but the firm frame of the cowboy and his horse were unwavering. To us, in the camp below he looked like a statue, as he watched the rising clouds. We actually laughed at him. Someone used the word “fool.” But he was watching what we should have known.
The first lighting strike split the heavens, illuminating the scene of the herd, the camp, the river, and the chuckwagon below.
Blinded by the sudden darkness after the light and the crack of thunder to follow, the cattle began to moan. I saw the cowboy gripping the reins tighter. His horse tensed, ready for the order.
The second bolt surged over the camp, splitting a rock on the far side of the river. The clap of thunder was so loud we all felt it in our chests.
Up on the hill, the cowboy's eyes must have been still adjusting when he realized that the rumbling thunder continued long after it should have stopped.
We heard a loud whistle across the valley like a hawk - it was him, calling the charge, and his horse obeyed with a leap over the edge and down the hillside.
Down in the camp, we all stood and watched the moonlit silhouette of his long frame move with his horse as if the two were one beast. His large brimmed hat caught the air and floated behind his head on the string around his neck.
He cut through camp so fast it felt as if he was making static in the air. We felt pushed by the wind his horse made. The cowboy whistled and the beast made a sharp turn.
“He’s angling to cut them off before the canyon,” the cook cried out.
The third lightning bolt broke the earth between the thundering herd and the racing cowboy and branched out through the air and the ground.
We all saw them fall, horse, rider, and about twenty cattle. We saw them fall and heard them all hit the earth.
But we watched them ride on at the same time - they shone blindingly bright like they were giving off lightning themselves.
The old-timer pointed toward Cody. Storm clouds rose in the night. A bolt fell.
You’ll know he's coming when you see a lightning streak blind the sky and the following thunder goes on for longer than it should. You'll hear a whistle round the trees. A mighty wind will push through the mountain passes, down past Casper and around the mountains at times toward Medicine Bow and Laramie, or by Glenrock, Douglas & Gurnsey, toward Cheyenne. The trees will rock, the sage will flatten.
He never was the sort of man to give up, and he ain’t caught them yet, so he ain’t quit.
That cowboy is charged by lightning. He whistles to his horse and his horse moves the wind. The herd is thunder.