Snakes are slithering their way into a host of Wyoming communities. Not only are they welcome, but peopleare helping them grow.
Finding and hiding painted rocks has been a quirk in cities and towns throughout Wyoming for years. Visitors and residents would often find one of these painted rocks, post about their discoveries on social media, and then place the rocks somewhere else to be found again. Facebook groups like “WyoRocks!” are dedicated to the discovery of painted rocks throughout the state.
“Rock snakes” are a more conspicuous display, meant to be seen. The “snakes” are long collections of rock art lined up with an appropriately serpentine head at the front.
Not only are rock snakes a thing around Wyoming, people are proud of theirs, as shown the group Wyoming Through the Lens Facebook group Tuesday when Story’s “Roscoe the Rock Snake” was introduced. Susan Mark, one of the group’s top contributors who posted the picture, called it “the most wonderful community project.”
“I had never seen a rock snake before, and I thought it was a great way to bring a community together,” she told Cowboy State Daily. “It was so much fun to see how many rocks were out there and how creative and inventive they were — bears and ice cream cones, and you name it.”
Seeing Roscoe, others were quick to feature the rock snakes in their communities, calling out “Rockboa” alongside a bike trail in Worland or the “Autism Awareness Snake” stretching its way through Greybull. Rock snakes also have been spotted in Gillette, Sheridan and Casper.
Wyomingites revel in the rock snakes that have spontaneously popped up in their towns. Some have even expressed interest in visiting each community’s rock snake and asked where they were located.
A Community’s Creativity On Display
“Jake the Snake” was sunning itself in front of the Fraternal Order of the Eagles in Cody on Tuesday. But one of the unique quirks of a rock snake is its unexpectedly transformative nature.
A recent visit shows the snake has shed its snakeskin and has become a rock train. Painted rock lines can take on many forms, including worms and caterpillars, and often change.
While it’s now “Jake the Train,” the concept and its eclectic nature remain the same.
The growing line of rock art included rocks painted to look like the Puerto Rican flag, a chocolate chip cookie, a Merry Christmas message and an encouraging message to “Bee Who You Are.” There was even an authentic sand dollar in the line.
Often, painted rocks will join a snake before vanishing once again to other places in the community or into pockets, making it a sort of community art timeshare. Maybe that’s why Cody’s Jake turned into a train, as snakes can’t lose any of their parts without serious damage.
Kidding aside, rock snakes and trains are not only fun for locals. Marks finds them endearing art projects that give a creative look into the spirit of Wyoming’s communities, as she experienced in Story.
“I had no idea this was a thing and that a lot of other communities were doing it,” she said. “I like to take photos of what catches my eye when I'm out and about in Wyoming, so I was glad I got to see this little piece of what was going on in Story. It's a wonderful place.”