Thirty-two years ago when I began researching and collecting Merritt Dana Houghton images there was no internet, so I traveled to museums, archives, and libraries around Wyoming and Spokane meeting with curators and viewing their collections. When I gave presentations about my findings, locals often brought additional Houghton drawings of their ranches and businesses, family heirlooms that had been handed down generation to generation. I took slides of each of these and added them to my working catalog. Over the years, I lost contact with the owners but I was able to include their images in the book.
I discovered more Houghton sketches while working on the book, including some that came to me just as I finished it. Others I discovered too late to be included or, more importantly, were brought to my attention because of the book.
The University Press of Colorado and the University of Wyoming Press have graciously offered to post these images, along with brief descriptions, to continue the project beyond the publication. If you find this page and your Houghton image is not included in the book or the site, please email me at and we’ll work to add it to the project.
The Old Homestead
Located by A. F. Wissel in Hamilton CO. Ohio 1846
The home of the Wissel Family for fifty years
Donated by Susan Riehle, Elizabethtown, Indiana
Ranch of James M. Wright, Hamsfork Wyo.
(Kemmerer, Uinta County Wyo.)
Donated by David Slater, Mill Creek, Washington
About a month after the book came out, David Slater of Mill Creek, Washington, sent me this Houghton sketch of his great-great- grandfather’s ranch just north of Kemmerer in what is now Lincoln County. Another great grandfather was Alfred Pomeroy, brother of Roney Pomeroy, whose ranch on Fontenelle Creek, Houghton also sketched. Perhaps the families directed the artist to this location.
Most likely Houghton drew the James M. Wright ranch in the summer of 1899 during his sojourn into the Upper Green River area while preparing images for C.G. Coutant’s proposed, but never published, second volume of The History of Wyoming. Note the artist’s reference to the work in the lower left. As described in my book, Houghton painted the William Sutton “Boot Jack” Ranch on the upper Green River on June 11 that summer and then worked his way south to the Pomeroy place on July 8, making illustrations of seven area ranches in between before sketching the Opal Ranch of C.F. Roberson on the Oregon Short Line railroad. The Wright Ranch, situated 20 miles southwest of the Pomeroy place and fourteen miles northwest of the Robertson Ranch, fits perfectly between the last two.
The Great Western Hotel, Sheridan, Wyoming, 1906.
The January 19, 1906, issue of the Sheridan Post reported that “Artist W. [sic] D. Houghton is engaged in the work of making a pen sketch of the Great Western Hotel.” Unfortunately, the paper did not include Houghton’s sketch and I did not find one until I was indexing the book, too late to include for publication. I discovered the image by accident in the May 1, 1906, edition of the Wyoming Industrial Journal, which was published in Laramie.
Interestingly, the text accompanying the image states that the “half-tone illustration on this page shows the Great Western Hotel at Sheridan as it will look when the additions, now in process of construction, will be completed.” The building, with its arched windows, still stands one block north of the Sheridan Courthouse, on the southwest corner of Main and Works Streets.
As noted in the book, Houghton was described as a “re-creator” of historic sites, sketching past scenes like Fort Caspar as they had looked in earlier days, but this is the first drawing with clear evidence showing that it depicted what a site would look like in the future.
Sheridan County Courthouse, c1906.
When I accidentally discovered the Houghton sketch of the Great Western Hotel in the Wyoming Industrial Journal edition of May 1, 1906, I was surprised to also find a Houghton view of the Sheridan County Courthouse in the same paper. I had not known that this drawing even existed so hadn’t been looking for it when I found it.
The courthouse was completed in 1904 and incorporates both Neo-Classical Revival and Beaux Arts styles. The National Register of Historic Places nominating form describes the building as “one of the most imposing courthouses in Wyoming” and “one of the most monumental government buildings in the state.” Houghton’s view looks southwest to the building from the corner of Main and Burkett streets and shows the distinctive dome and its entrance.
Along with the Great Western Hotel sketch, this one adds evidence to the argument made in the book that Houghton probably stayed in northern Wyoming in the fall and winter of 1905-1906 rather than returning to Laramie.
Les Jayne and Mike Gorman, "National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination
Form: Sheridan County Courthouse.” National Park Service. October 3, 1980.
t/NRHP/82001836_text [accessed March 14, 2023].
In the book, I noted that Houghton traveled to Douglas, Wyoming, in late May 1905 and that the town’s newspaper, Bill Barlow’s Budget, reported on June 7 that “Artist Houghton, who made a perspective sketch of the city which will be shortly be reproduced in these columns, left for the SO ranch, at Careyhurst, yesterday.” Unfortunately, because no subsequent reproduction could be found either in the paper or after checking with the local museum, I wrote that no
Houghton sketch of either Douglas or the SO ranch was known to exist.
A few months later, I discovered this view while cleaning my home office. I likely purchased it on ebay but could not remember when. The view looks to the east over the railroad and it is a typical Houghton drawing, with smoke billowing from stacks and the town’s grid neatly aligned up the hill.
The reverse side shows that the image was printed as a one cent post card. Although the cancellation date is not clear, Omaha Directories confirm that an Anna Winters lived in the city between 1896 and 1917. More interestingly, its existence suggests that Houghton’s views circulated as postcards, suggesting that more might be found.
Although I included a view of Dayton, Wyoming, in the book, the image was one that I had on file as a slide since the 1990s and could not remember where I had obtained it. After discovering the Douglas post card, I looked on ebay for Wyoming post cards and found this Houghton view of Dayton. Even better, it had a hand written date of June 29, 1906, which means that Houghton post cards were circulating within a year of the sketch’s creation.