The Roundup: A Conversation With Clay Gibbons

This weekend, host Wendy Corr speaks with Wyoming historian Clay Gibbons. They chat about the Hole In the Wall gang, the Johnson County Cattle Wars, and that time he set up the impromptu marriage of an international pop star.

Wendy Corr

June 29, 202441 min read

The Roundup Gibbons
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)
Watch on YouTube

Wendy Corr:

Well, hey there, folks, welcome to The Roundup. We are a Cowboy State Daily podcast that features really interesting people from the Cowboy State. And oh my gosh, I know I say this, it seems like I say this every time, but I cannot tell you how interesting this person is. 

Our guest today is Clay Gibbons. He's a Wyoming historian. He is a Wyoming native born and raised in the Worland area. Clay has devoted so much of his life to telling Wyoming stories. 

And today, Clay is going to tell us some really great Wyoming stories that have captured the imagination of Americans for generations. And so I am so tickled today to be able to introduce to the podcast audience, Clay Gibbons! 

Clay, hello. It's been so long since you and I have had a chance to visit and it's just so good to have you on the podcast today.

Clay Gibbons:

I appreciate that, Wendy, it's good to see you again. We go back a long way. But we haven't seen each other for a long time. 

Wendy Corr:

Exactly. Which is why it's so much fun to be able to connect and be able to really feature your interesting life and your interesting - I can't even say it's a hobby anymore. This is what you do - you tell the Wyoming story. 

And you tell the Old West stories, you talk about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to anybody who will come to your ranch. You have an Airbnb there, you lead tours - Clay, tell us about your interest in the very unique Wyoming history of your area. Tell us where this interest started.

Clay Gibbons:

My interest in history started from my dad, he was always interested in history and loved it. And so I went everywhere with him. We had an implement dealership, and he was on the road a lot. And of course, several times - I'd be with him all the time. So I learned stories from him. 

And of course, he had historical books and things around all the time. So I read that. And so I would say that my love of history started at a very early age, much younger than most people. 

The majority of the talks that I've given throughout the years, you know, the age is fairly old. Seems like people don't really get into it until they get older. So appreciating that history. 

But I remember when I was 16, in high school, on December 21, 1966 - I just gave my age away - it was the day before my birthday. And it was the 100th anniversary of the Fetterman massacre. And I had read so much about that, that I didn't get anything done in school that day. I stared at the clock and thinking, ‘Okay, right now Fetterman is doing this, right now Crazy Horse is doing this,’ you know, I mean, going through the whole thing. 

The whole day, I was just mesmerized by the whole talk. So at 16 years old, you know, I had that whole thing right down. So my interest goes way back to a young age in my life.

Wendy Corr:

I guess Wow. Yeah, not very many 16 year olds are thinking about what happened 100 years ago on this day. But you mentioned your dad and the implement business that you guys had, that your dad had - your roots in Wyoming go so deep. Tell us about your family's heritage in the area. And about when you first came to the area. 

Clay Gibbons:

Well, my dad, or my grandpa, Clay Gibbons, came here in about 1913, settled here from Missouri. And he actually settled just across the river from where I live now. And so my dad was born and raised here. And I was born and raised here. So we go back, you know, I'm the third generation, Wyoming Gibbons family. 

So it's, I tell you, there's hardly a day goes by that I don't think my grandfather was settling here in Worland because it's such a neat place. And I'm so connected to Wyoming. I can't imagine living anywhere else. And we happen to live in one of the windless areas of Wyoming. I know most people aren't aware of that. But we have very, very little wind - and I'm also thankful that we settled here for that too. So it's a very nice climate here in the Bighorn basin. 

And if you do listen to my podcast, the “Sweet Smell of Sagebrush,” and want to learn more about the Bighorn Basin, I've got one called “The Wonders of the Bighorn Basin.” It goes into some early geologic history of the basin. And then it touches on, it actually talks quite a bit about - one of my favorite people that I ever knew is Dr. George Frizzen, who was born and raised in Ten Sleep. So he ended up being a world renowned archaeologist, and the podcast touches on him quite a bit. 

So if you want to learn more about the Bighorn basin and the beauty of it and the history of it, that's one of the episodes on my podcast that you might enjoy. 

Wendy Corr:

You know, I want to come back to your podcast towards the end, so that people can write it down. But tell me first about - what are some of the topics on your podcast? As you got this, The Sweet Smell of Sagebrush, but so many of the topics on your podcast are about these things that happen in Wyoming history. 

And you've talked about the Fetterman fight and things like that, the hole in the wall, you have access to the actual hole in the wall. And that is almost a well kept secret, people - it's not something that you can just say, Oh, look, let's go visit the hole in the wall. It's not that easy. Tell us about how you first found the hole in the wall, Clay. 

Clay Gibbons:

Well, I went through years ago with another one of my dear friends, Bob Edgar, who was the creator of Old Trail town. And that was my first visit of the Hole In the Wall. And since then I went, oh, gosh, I've been there many times. 

But it started with, I was asked to go over there on the “Hoof Prints of the Past,” gave it to over the whole of all one year. And I went along, I was actually asked to give a talk. So I gave a talk at the site of the old Hole In the Wall cabin. And the recent new owner at that time, this was about three years ago, was Gene Vieh, he bought that ranch and the Taylor family owned that ranch before. And it wasn't all that accessible. 

And all through my high school career, I kept thinking, well, if I could ever have access to the Hole In the Wall, wouldn’t it be such a great thing. And I just had no idea how I'd ever get it. But oh, that's - the whole history of that area was so rich, you know. And it's a very, very well known area because of Butch Cassidy and the Hole In the Wall Gang. 

And so I gave this talk, and after the talk, Mr. Vieh, Gene asks, “Clay, I love your talk.” He says, “Could I ride the rest of the way with you on the tour?” I thought, “Well, yeah!” So I found riders for the added people to my vehicle, and I got Gene with me. And so we were leading the tour. 

And we stopped at a site that the locals were talking about, the Hole In the Wall fight that occurred in June of 1897. And so they're telling a little bit about what they knew about it. But it wasn't a whole lot. You know, “It happened somewhere around here.” But I'm one of those people that if somebody says it happened ‘somewhere here,’ I want to know exactly where. 

So we're standing on top this hill, and I asked one of them, so where did this exactly happen? And they said, “Well, somewhere over here, they call that ‘Bob Smith Hill.’ So it happened somewhere here.” Now that somewhere, you know, why don't they know exactly where it happened? That's where I get involved and excited. 

And there's a pile of rocks close to us. And those pile of rocks spoke to me. They were purposely piled there by man. They weren't a rock Indian cairn to mark the trail, because there's a lot of those in that country too, a 1500 year old Indian trail travels through that country, marked with these rock Cairns. And this was different than a rock cairn. 

It also wasn't a grave, because I know what those look like, too. So it kind of spoke to me, that those were put there for a reason. 

And so I got on my BLM map and I found exactly where we were and I put an X on that site. And then we got back in the pick up and I said, “Gene, has anyone ever done a lot of research on the Hole In the Wall fight?” And he told me something that I had hoped to hear all my life up to that point - he said, “Clay, whatever you want to do on my ranch, you come and hunt, you come and fish, you come and take your family, you take the horses, whatever you want to do, I'm giving you a key to the ranch.” And literally a key to the ranch because he had locked gates there.
And that was a highlight of my day - oh my gosh, highlight of my whole year - to think that I finally have access to the area that I had really been interested in, you know, I get to come into this area. 

And in1990 a group out of Thermopolis started what they called “The Outlaw Trail Ride.” And it was for a group of people, usually around 125, you know, five groups, about 25 apiece, and they would start at Roughlock Hill, we'd ride into the hole in the wall. And then the next day they would take a hundred mile trip from the hole in wall clear over to Thermopolis, that was a week long trip.

Well I was the historian for the group. So I always got to ride my horse, and I would stop at one point and tell each of the five groups the same story, then they’d ride on, and then I’d run like hell on the horse and catch up to them, then I’d stop and tell them another.

So I was telling stories all day long. But the day that they left, I got to ride the 12 miles back out to where my pickup was, and ride anywhere I wanted to on horseback. So I did that for over 20 years. So I saw a lot of that country on horseback and I found - all through the country, I found over 225 teepee rings, scattered all over. The largest was 29. There was one with 28, and the majority of them had six to 12 Indian rings scattered about. 

So anyway, getting back to the Hole In the Wall Fight story, I started doing research on it. And in the fight, there were 12 men, represented by Bob Devine from the CY Cattle Company. The CY Cattle Company was owned by Joseph Carey, who was our senator, United States Senator, and also CY Ave in Casper is named after the ranch brand. 

And he led a contingent of men in there because they knew they had a bunch of stolen cattle in there,  that the Hole In the Wall had stolen, so they were looking for cattle with their brands on them.

And they came upon Bob Smith, Al Smith and Bob Taylor, who are a part of the Hole In the Wall Gang. They came across them at one particular site - now, there had been information scattered back and forth and letters to the editor of the Casper paper about, “We're gonna go in and clean this country up, it's a den of thieves.”

And Bob Taylor would write back and say, “Keep your damn head out of here, you know, we're gonna shoot it off.” There was a lot of animosity.

Long story short, without going into the whole story, they came across them. And Bob Devine, asked as he came up to Bob Smith, he says, “Have you seen any CY cattle?” And Smith said “No, not a damn one.” 

And he had his .45 under his chaps. And as they rode past, he turned his pistol, raised it, and said, “I've got you now, you damned old son of a bitch.” You can edit that out if you need to. And he fired, but Devine had turned his horse, his horse got hit and killed. He went down and Devine fired back and hit Bob Smith in the back. 

They left Bob Smith's body there as they went back to the Bar C, and got their wagons and what not. They arrested - Al Smith got away, they arrested Bob Taylor, and they took him to the Natrona county jail. After they got him to the Natrona county jail, they questioned themselves. 

Let me back up a little bit. When I was doing my research, this happened July 22 of 1897. I happened to pick up the Buffalo paper for June, which would have been a month before this. One of the articles I read in that paper said, “you know, no one really knows where the county line is between Natrona and Johnson County. Those of us in Johnson County like to think the Hole In the Wall is in Natrona County and those in Natrona County like to think the Hole In the Wall is in Johnson County.” 

So I knew that there's a little misperception about where the line was, right? Nobody wanted jurisdiction over the Hole In the Wall because, like they said it was a den of thieves, right? There were good people that lived there too, good homesteaders. But they all protected the outlaws. 

So I knew that they didn't know where the county line was for sure. So anyway, they get Bob Taylor back to Natrona County, and they try to find out, “Are we in Johnson County or Natrona County, did we have jurisdiction?” Well, come to find out, they decided, they found out they did not have jurisdiction. That the Hole In the Wall fight was actually in Johnson County. 

Now, I thought, the only way they would have known that, because of the article I read, that they didn't know where the county line was, was they would have had to send the county surveyor to find this site. So there's where my focus was, trying to find the kind of surveyors records. 

And so one day I finally came across the information I needed. And the county surveyor went out there, he found the county line. And then he went to the site of the fight. And it was two miles north of the county line. And he said in his documents - and I had my map out in front of me with my X on it, right? “It's township so-and-so, range so-and-so the southeast quarter, the northwest corner of Section seven.” So as I'm following down my map, and boom, it came right down to my X. And then he said, “I placed a large pile of rock to mark this site for future reference.” 

And that's so exciting, Wendy, because I read that - you know, researching history doesn't pay very well. But it pays in these kinds of things. I read that, and thought, he placed those rocks 100 years ago, knowing that someday somebody would want to find that. And I was the someone that wanted to find that. So he placed those piles of rocks for me, you know, and I got really excited about it. 

So then I went back and started doing some metal detecting - I always took another person with me. And for me to get to the Hole In the Wall from where I live, it's 160 miles going one way which is down by Waltman and into Armando and in that way. The other way to go up to the top of the mountain down a stock trail. One is 161 Miles, the other one is 101 Miles, but it takes you three hours either way. 

So the days I went there to do the metal detecting, it was a long day. I’d take off and take three hours to get there. So I started early morning, metal detect all day, then three hours to get back home. 

I spent eight days doing - not consecutive - but when I could find time away from work, always take somebody with me. And in our metal detecting we found shells, we found slugs, and I marked all those with flags. And then I remap that also, knowing that someday someone's going to want to find out, so I would have the information for somebody that digs into it. 

But I was able to locate the exact site of the Hole In the Wall fight. So that was really, really exciting. So that's where my interest started. And then of course I've done you know, continue to do more research on that too. But it's like I like to say, every day at the Hole In the Wall is a great day. I just love that country. 

Wendy Corr:

And you take people back there. You'll take people back on these tours. Tell us about the tours to the hole in the wall country.

Clay Gibbons:

Well, what I've been doing is I have a tour. It's kind of funny how that started. After I did the research on the Hole In the Wall fight, I was asked to give a talk in Fremont County, to the Historical Society there. So I get down there, get to talking about the Hole In the Wall fight, and afterwards they said “Hey, Clay, have you ever taken a tour, taking anybody there?” And I said, well, no, I hadn't really thought about it. 

And then right after that I gave a talk in Thermopolis, Hot Springs County. And after I gave that talk, I had the same question, “Hey, Clay, have you ever given a tour there?” And I said, “No, but, you know, maybe I ought to think about that.” 

So I decided one day that I'm gonna put a tour together. So I sent a little clip for them to put in the local paper, just like a paragraph or two, you know, saying that I'll pick some people up here in Thermopolis. I'll pick other people up in Shoshone in the town park. 

So I got some offers, about, oh, I don't know 40, 50 people, something like that. Well, that's you know, if nobody shows up in Shoshoni, you know, that'll just be a good group. 

Got to Shoshoni and got to the little town park. And the cars were amazing, how many people started off from there, down to Waltman, I had a convoy of 75 vehicles. We had over 221 people there. So, I remember my son was with me, he looked back, he said, “Dad, you need to start charging.” 

And it really, it worked out well. But the difficult part was, those roads are dusty. So when I stopped somewhere, I would go partway past where I needed to stop. So half of the cars, would be right where I need to talk. And they would take forever for you know, 30 minutes for the last car to get there. So since then, I've been charging for my trips to try to keep them down to a decent level. 

So I usually have between 50 and 60 people on those tours. And I've been doing it - the first year after that I did on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. And I didn't know if that would be good or not. It turned out that a lot of people are looking for something to do on Memorial Day weekend. So it has turned out to be pretty good deal. So every Saturday Memorial Day weekend, I've been doing that tour. 

And then I've also given some private tours, where people have hired me to take a small group and whatnot. So I can't, I don't remember how many times I've taken tours in there. 

But the beauty of it, Wendy, is the Hole In the Wall is a difficult place to find. And that's the integrity of it. That's what made it such a great hideout. It is pretty inaccessible. And so if you found your way there, you'd get there and it's beautiful country, but you wouldn't know what you're looking at, you know, where anything happened, you wouldn't have any idea. 

That's what I really enjoy about giving the tours, to give the background stories, to show people a 1500 year old rock cairn, Indian Trail, that goes through there, show them teepee rings, to talk about - when we first get to the first sight of the red wall that runs about 30 miles north in south. And the only gap actually sending out of it, besides north and south, is on the east side coming down from the east is where the gap and the in the wall is - which is referred to as the hole in wall. 

And so to show them that, you know, everybody wants to know just where that is, the first sight of the big red wall. And then we come down to the monument and I tell the story about the whole fight. And then we go down to where the old Hole In the Wall cabin used to sit, and have our lunch. And there I talked about a little bit of the history that area, so we go into talking about the Johnson County War and what happened there. 

And then we go and I get people, we drive as close as we can get to the hole where the two track road stops, and I give people a chance to climb up to the top and back. 

And then we go from there to the Alex Gent Ranch, which was the old Bar C, on the north end of it one of my favorite places in the whole world. It’s so picturesque, there's still remnants of his cabin, and his barn and outhouse there and, and I've got some really cool stories that go along with that. 

So, it's an all day trip. You know, we start at 7:30 in the morning when I get my first group together, and we’re lucky to get home by 10:00, 10:30 at night, so it's a long day. But it's a memorable day, they'll never forget.

Wendy Corr:

Exactly! The memories - and literally the memories that are made, but the memories that you evoke, and all of the history that is just so little known. I love that you've just become such an expert on these things, Clay, and that you obviously have such a passion for it. 

Let's get back to your podcast - that passion is something that you've then channeled into your podcast. How did you get started with podcasting?

Clay Gibbons:

For one thing, I got so many stories in my head that - I was a very, very dear friend of Bob Edgar, by the way, Just backing up a little bit, the creator of Old Trail Town. Back in 1966, I think, he started collecting those old buildings. And I became a very close friend of Bob's, I did the eulogy at his funeral at Old Trail Town. 

And I was always so sad, and I've heard so many stories of Bob, but he was a wealth of information and a great historian, he was my mentor. And I always thought, it's too bad that we couldn't put a zip drive in him and back up all those stories. 

So I realize the importance to try to save that history, and the research I've done, and the podcast was an idea that came to me.

And at the time I had a lady that worked for the BLM, and she was keeping her horse out here. And she had a little expertise on how to set that up, she and her brother too. And she called him, and so one night, we got set up, and I did my first podcast. 

So I don't know, I've got 13 to 14 episodes now, and I've got so many, many more to do. So I have to, it's my way of preserving those stories, okay, getting them down to where, after I'm dead and gone, at least the history and the stories will be preserved. 

Wendy Corr:

That's just so forward thinking, and making those stories accessible to everybody else is just really great. And again, we'll include the link to that in the show notes, so that people can go on and hear those stories themselves. 

You're making new stories all the time, though - Cowboy State Daily recently did a story about some guests that you had. You’ve got an Airbnb on your property, and our reporter, Renee Jean, who just does amazing features, had written a story, because she had come on one of your tours and visited with you and heard some of your stories. 

But she just offhand heard about this Canadian pop singer that had come to your ranch. And you didn't know who this person was. Tell us the story of Kiesza and her music video that ended up featuring Old Trail Town in Cody.

Clay Gibbons:

Well, when Renee first contacted me a couple of weeks ago, she was doing some research on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And she was told that she really needed to talk to me, and so she got a hold of me. And she said she'd never been to the Hole In the Wall. And I said, “Well, I'm giving a private tour on the 12th of June, and you're welcome to come along with that.” And I said, “I have an Airbnb and you'd be my guest.” 

So I said, we're leaving on, that's a Wednesday, come Tuesday night. And then we’ll visit and we'll go on the tour. And then Wednesday night, you can stay here too, because we come back late. 

So when she was here that Tuesday night, we were just visiting, and I don't remember our conversation, but I told her about this, meeting Kiesza. And she was interested in that. 

And in fact, Thursday morning, when she got up, she did her little meeting with you guys, you know, every morning. And she put out some stories that she's interested in, and she got thumbs up on two stories, one about the Spring Creek Raid, which was just on not too long ago, Tuesday, I guess. And the other one was, she wanted to hear about Kiesza, so I told the story about Kiesza. 

So what happened, I got a call one day from this lady. And I don't know how she got my number. I do Airbnb, but they don't give that number out. So she did a little research to get my number, to call me directly. And she said she had three guests with her. They want to come out and spend a week in my Airbnb. 

And so I made a deal with her. And I said sure, come on out. So they showed up one day, and I didn't know them from Adam. And here's this cute little redhead gal and three guys. And the one gentleman, he owns a Museum in Toronto. And what they were coming out for was to dig dinosaur bones and whatnot. So the museum guy from Toronto is friends with the paleontologist who has a dig north of Ten Sleep, which is a really cool, cool place. So that's what they're out here to do, is go help him dig dinosaur bones. 

So, they would hang around and wouldn’t leave the house until about noon or one o'clock in the afternoon. So they'd spend the whole morning here, and I'm out working on the back patio or something and the gal steps out with this curly red hair and greets me and says good morning and I said good morning. And you know, I'm trying to give them their privacy if they want it. 

And so, one morning, we're sitting around in the kitchen, and I asked you, what do you do? She says “Well, I sing and entertain a little.” I said, “Really? Well, you’ll have to sing me a song.” And she said, “Well, sometime, you know, bring up a guitar and I'll sing a song for you.” And I said, “Great.”

So the guys walk in the kitchen. And I said, “Ron, what's your story?” Ron says, “Well,” he says, “Clay, have you ever seen a TV show called Heartland?” I said, “Well, sure I have, my daughter Bailey, you know, I raised her up by myself, and we watched Heartland quite a bit, we really enjoy it.” And he said, “Well, I'm the creator and director of Heartland.” Oh, that's cool. Interesting people here, right? 

So there's another guy named TJ, and he was Kiesza’s boyfriend. And he flew Apache helicopters in the Iraq War, and now he lives in LA and he flies drones for movie work. 

So like, the next morning, they're sitting here at the end of my kitchen counter, so I brought a guitar and says, “Okay, play a song.” So I got my phone out, you know, and I get the video on, and she's singing this song, and I'm recording it, and it's all great. And I think, that's a pretty good song. So I said, “That's really good, Kiesza. Have you ever recorded anything?” Everybody broke into laughter, you know? 

She says, “Clay, hand me your phone.” So she gets my phone and she pulls up YouTube, pulls up the song she just sang. And it had like 515 - not thousand - but 515 million views on it. 

And it turns out, it's also in a couple other places on YouTube - you total them up and it was over a billion - with a B - views. And I thought, oh my gosh, this isn't just any ordinary redhead I’ve got sitting here, you know. So then I started realizing, wow, I’ve got some really cool people here. 

So they spent the week, we had just a great time together. And she left, and she got a hold of me that August, this would have been August of ‘22. And she wanted to come back. And she came back with a guy from the Museum in Toronto. And she's asked two things of me. She said, “I want you to fix me another London Broil” - because that's kind of one of my specialties - and she said, “I want you to take me to the hole in wall.”

So I took her to the hole in wall, she and Ben, and just the two of them, and we spent all day there. And of course she heard all these stories, you know, about Butch and Sundance and the Johnson County War, and all that. And we climbed to the top of the hole. So we got the top of the hole, and I said, “Kiesza, you know, your big number one hit was Hideaway.” That was the name of the song. In fact, when it hit number one on the Billboard charts, she had to cancel an appearance with Madonna to accept some award for it. 

So she's up there on top of the Hole In the Wall, right on the very edge of the big red wall. I said, “Your big song is Hideaway. And this is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s hideaway. I think it's only appropriate that you sing that song up here.” 

And so I got my video camera out again. And she did the whole - she's quite a dancer, tremendous dancer. So she did the whole song, dancing and her signature move and whatnot. And then I panned down to see the whole red wall. And that whole Buffalo Creek Valley, and it was just really, really, really fun. 

So we got home. And some time in that week that she was here, I don't know how the subject came up. But sometime during that week, I recited a poem that I had written clear back in college, and she was recording it on her phone. And she loved it. 

So she went back to Norway, because she'd been spending the last couple of years teaching singing, the art of singing and whatnot at the University of Norway. And they provide her a home and everything. And so she went back to Norway, and she called me in December of that year, which had been ‘22, and said, “Congratulations, Clay, you're gonna be in my new album.” I said, “What?” She said, “Yes, she said, “I was so inspired with the poem and going to the Hole In the Wall, so I wrote a song to go with it, and it's about Etta Place.” And so she sent it to me, and I listened to it. And it's really a good song. 

Wendy Corr:

It's a neat song. Yeah, I listened to it. It's a great song.

Clay Gibbons:

If you listen to it, it'll go through your mind the rest of the day. And so then the first of 2023, she got ahold of me again. And she said, “We're going to make a music video out of that.” And then she said, “We have another song I wrote as a sequel to that one.” So she said, “We're gonna come down. I want you to get hold of my producer and director. They'll be getting a hold of you and setting arrangements up. And can you find us a place to take these pictures?”

Well, she wanted something like the Hole in the Wall, with the big red walls, right? But as I said, to take the whole crew out there, it’s a three hour drive out and three hours back. So I thought, I've got to find another location that looks like that. 

Well, right at that same time, I had the fourth grade teacher in Ten Sleep contact me and see if I could take the class out to the site of the Spring Creek Raid south of Ten Sleep and give them the story. And I said, “Most certainly,” because I used to do that quite a bit for fourth graders. 

And so we met out there, and she had also invited two people, Houston and Heidi Johnson, who are the hospitality managers at the Lazy T. And the Lazy T was purchased, I think that five or six years ago, two ranches side by side, were bought. And now this gentleman from Idaho originally, his name is Ty Jenkins, and he happens to be the creator of Docusign. And so he's the one that bought those two ranches. 

So Houston and Heidi heard my talk about the Spring Creek Raid, and their ranch is where the cemetery is where the three sheepmen are buried. So it’s where whole story happened, right there on the ranch. So they are very interested to find out, “Hey, we found the expert on the Spring Creek Raid, right?” 

So that day I said, “I've got a favor to ask you, because they've got these beautiful red hills and red cliffs. It's just a gorgeous ranch. I said, I told them about Kiesza, and we want to do this music video and we're looking for locations. And I said, “Would it be possible that the owners would allow them to come and do that?” 

And he says, “Clay, we've got a Zoom meeting tonight,” he said, “I'll throw that question out to them.” And so very early next morning, Houston called, and he said, “Clay, so we had a Zoom meeting, and they are not only more than welcome to have you here, but we'll host you, we will drive you around. We'll feed your whole crew lunch, and the whole nine yards.” They were just really, you know, really laid out the red carpet for us. So we went there, and we did some filming and TJ ran the drone and whatnot. 

So an interesting thing is, when I picked TJ and her producer and director up at the Cody airport.  the Dakota airport. I asked TJ, “So how are you and Kiesza getting along?” He says, “Well, Clay, you know, it's a long distance relationship, with her in Norway and me in LA.” So he said, “That's kind of what we're gonna decide this week, when we're filming is, is this relationship worth pursuing?” And I said, “Gosh, TJ, I hope so.” I said, “I just think the world of both you, and you guys just make such a great couple, you know, I hope it works out.” 

So anyway, we did that, we shot the music video there, we shot some of it at the Irma hotel, we shot some at Old Trail town. And the dance routine and that is actually, right before the second tunnel, as you’re going into Buffalo Bill reservoir with this big rock wall there, that big rock wall is on that little turnout. They did a little dance routine there. 

So we did all that. And it got ready to, partway through, I'm riding back from one of the scenes, and I'm talking to TJ, “So, how are you guys getting along?” “It's really good, Clay. It's going really well. It's all good.” “I'm glad to hear that.” 

So the night they were going to leave, the night before they're gonna leave, I say, “So TJ, things still going all right?” He takes me by the arm, takes me outside, away from all the rest of the people, takes me halfway to the barn, and stops and says, “Clay, Kiesza and I are getting married, and we want to do it at your place.” I said, “What?” He said, “You heard me right, Kiesza and I are getting married, and we want to get married here at your place.” 

And I'm thinking, okay, they're gonna come back in six months, right? I said, “So, when?” And he said, “Tomorrow.” And I said, “What? You want to get married tomorrow? You're leaving tomorrow.” He says, “I know, we’ve got to get married, she's going back to Norway. I'm going back to LA. We've got to tie this thing up before we split up.” And so I said, “Wow, TJ, I don't think I can get a minister here in the morning.” Because it was at night when he told me this. 

“So here's what you do. First thing in the morning” - he's kind of keeping it hush hush, he hadn't told the rest of the crew. I said, “First thing in the morning, tell the rest of the group, that you and Kiesza are going to go in for coffee and rolls, into town, and go to the courthouse right when they open up, and get all the paperwork done.” 

So he comes back from that. And he said, “Okay, Clay, got it all done.” He said, “We're gonna get married at 10:30. And we want you and Jackie” - Jackie's my wife - and he said, “We want you and Jackie to stand up for us for our wedding.” So we drove into town together and I filmed their wedding at the courthouse in Worland. So they got married there. And that was kind of cool. 

The rest of this story is, as some people may be aware, they loved Jackie, Jackie was the one that actually taught Kiesza how to ride her horse. And she did all of horse work with her. And in that scene on the second, I believe the second one, where she's loping across the sagebrush, Jackie's got her horse on the other end to make sure everything's okay. And, and anyway, they loved Jackie. 

And Jackie passed away in a tragic accident on Christmas Eve of 2023. And so she called me about in February - of course, I called Kiesza the night Jackie passed, because I knew they'd want to know, and they kept in really close contact with her. But that was really nice. 

And she and her director called one day and said “Clay, we’ve got a favor to ask, we want to title the music video, ‘The Sweet Smell of Sagebrush’ after your podcast.’” And she said, “We'd like to dedicate it to your wife.” So that was quite moving. So at the end of the video, you see where it's dedicated to Jackie. 

So yeah, it's been a really, really wonderful situation, you know. We text back and forth quite often. Then Kiesza, another interesting thing is, before Christmas, the month of December, she did a Christmas tour across Canada. And it was by rail. They had a five car railroad to travel all the way across Canada. And the middle car was all lit up with lights on it. And the middle car had two walls, and when they got into a community, it would fold down and be a stage, and she’d have different Christmas costumes up. 

And she said she did - I followed it on Instagram and Facebook - she said she did something like 57 concerts in 17 days. And she said, “I know that we went to communities that people have never been able to go to a concert before.” So it was really cool following her and doing that, that was really neat. 

So we stay in good, close contact. She called me the other day and said, “Hey, Clay. Guess what?” She said, “I've got a bucket list item checked off. And I said, “What's that?” She said, “I've always wanted to sing my music with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra at the Jack Singer Concert Hall in Calgary. ANd I said, “Well, hey, that's terrific. You know, do that. That would be wonderful.” 

She said, “I’ve got a favorite to ask.” I said, “What?” She said, “I want you to be there to do your poem for that song of ours.” She said, “Can you do that?” And I said, “Okay, you're asking this old cowboy from Wyoming if he wants to go to Calgary, Canada, and perform with the world famous Kiesza on stage, backed up by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. How can I refuse that?” 

So, I've often thought that that would look great on my resume if I was younger. At my age it’ll look great on my obituary.

Wendy Corr:

Oh, my word. When is that happening, Clay? 

Clay Gibbons:

October 5. 

Wendy Corr:

Oh, my word. So we are, we're gonna want to get a hold of you after that and see how it went. Because that just sounds like an amazing, amazing adventure. 

Clay, you have had so many fantastic adventures, and these great stories like this, we cannot possibly fit them all into our podcast today. But I certainly want to allow people to follow you, and see what else you're up to. 

Something we didn't talk about is, you've been really responsible for erecting a number of state historical markers, and just really keeping this Wyoming history alive. Where can we follow what you're doing? Where can we find out more about what you're doing, and these really wonderful stories that you're telling?

Clay Gibbons:

Well, probably the best way to keep track of what I'm doing is on Facebook. I only post there when I have something important to post. I’m not one of those people that puts something on every day. But you know, when I advertise a Hole In the Wall trip, I'll advertise on Facebook. So if people want to friend me on Facebook, that's probably the best way to keep in touch with what I'm doing. I've got a website that needs to be updated and corrected, and hopefully I'll have some help. 

So one of the caveats to having the Lazy T to film for the music video, was, they asked if I would come back and have dinner with the family sometimes, Ty and Debbie Jenkins, when they had some guests at the end of June. So I said, “Well, sure, I’d be glad to do that.” Well, so we went to this beautiful home, this beautiful blog home of theirs. The guest was Red Steagall. And so that was pretty cool. 

So I sat next to Red during the dinner and whatnot, got to know him, and what a fabulous guy he is. And then after dinner, I gave the story, the Spring Creek Raid in front of the fireplace there. 

And then about three days later, they wanted me to come back and give another talk, and that's when the guests were Kent and Shannon Rollins. And Kent Rollins is a big YouTube cowboy chuckwagon cook, he's got like 3 million followers and whatnot. So I met Kent and Shannon, and that was really fun. And then gave the talk again to them. 

And then, they were coming back in September of last year to do about a week's worth of filming, where Kent would be doing chuckwagon cooking at different locations on the ranch. And he got a hold of me, and he wanted to do an interview, so I went up there and spent the day with them, and did an interview which he put on his podcast, too. 

If you look for Kent Rollins Wyoming War, and they tell a real 12-minute story of the Spring Creek Raid on that, so you know, the whole thing kind of snowballs, and builds into bigger stuff. And you just have this great opportunity to meet some wonderful people.

Wendy Corr:

And you are just kind of living proof that Wyoming draws people like this, to really the unique history that we have, and these amazing resources that we have. Including, Clay, you are one of these amazing resources. And I'm so glad that we've had the opportunity to talk with you today, and to introduce your vast knowledge of Wyoming history, and your great storytelling abilities. 

And so, Clay, thanks so much for being our guest today on The Roundup, and I know that we'll be doing a lot more stories with you on Cowboy State Daily.

Clay Gibbons:

I appreciate the opportunity, it's been fun. 

Wendy Corr:

It has been! And folks, thank you for tuning in today to The Roundup. We have just a wonderful backlog of great guests and podcasts that we've done so far. So follow us on Facebook, follow us on our YouTube channel. Subscribe to Cowboy State Daily’s free daily newsletter and you'll hear so many more, and be able to read these great stories of these amazing Wyoming people. But thanks for tuning in today, folks. Clay, I look forward to the next time we get a chance to chat - and folks, have a great week.


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Wendy Corr

Broadcast Media Director