Where did the Casper Mountain wreck come from? Its origins are the subject of a second look. | Casper
It’s the evening of July 25, 1937, and four high school kids are on their way to Casper Mountain for a summer picnic. Their names are Russell Schryer, Martha Park, Paul Haas and Greta Lester.
Haas, 17, is in command of the sedan. Back then, Casper Mountain Road could be dangerously narrow and it was not paved.
Haas turns left at Lookout Point, and suddenly he can’t see. There is another car coming in the opposite direction and its lights are on.
With the light in his eyes, Haas leaves the road and the four dive into Garden Creek Canyon.
Park, Haas, and Lester are thrown from the vehicle – that was decades before seat belts – with much of their picnic supplies. Somehow, Schryer manages to stay inside the car.
Three hundred and fifty feet later, the vehicle rolls onto its side, parallel to the slope of the mountain.
Schryer suffered only minor injuries. He’s good enough to get out of the wreckage, back up to the road, and call for help.
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All four got out of the mountain and taken to the hospital. Park, 14, was pronounced dead later that night. The other three survive.
There is an old car fossilizing off the Bridle Trail on Casper Mountain.
The trail, which begins at the base of Garden Creek Canyon, is one of the most popular in central Wyoming. You can see the car from the top cutoff, just past the east lookout.
The rusty and rusty piece of metal is slowly swallowed up by nature. The tires have already sunk a few inches into the ground, and in summer plants are crawling on its sides.
The car’s provenance has mystified residents of Casper for decades. Its history is not well documented anywhere, or at least nowhere that is easy to find. More than anything, it’s just something hikers can study or throw stones at while they catch their breath.
Still, many have pushed for answers. The car questions were among the most common submitted to the Star-Tribune’s old question-and-answer column, “Answer Girl,” which ran from 2007 to 2014.
The first columnist of “Answer Girl” looked into the question in 2008.
The reporter discovered that the wreckage was actually from the first fatal car crash on Casper Mountain Road. The car that fell in Garden Creek Canyon in 1937 and claimed the life of 14-year-old Martha Parks.
The âAnswer Girlâ column is short and to the point, and does not tell the reader how this disclosure was made. The writer, however, consulted the Western History Center at Casper College for help with his research and even interviewed one of Parks’ relatives.
It’s unclear how much attention this column got. In the years that followed, questions about the car kept popping up. The Star-Tribune republished the article several times to satisfy public curiosity – once in 2011, and again in 2014.
Anyway, Casper finally had an answer. Case closed.
At least that’s what everyone thought.
Paul Ferguson, a retired Casper resident, recently discovered critical flaws in the theory.
Ferguson is an avid hiker who, like others, has long wondered about the Bridle Trail car.
âI just thought it sounded sad. Doesn’t he look sad? He said, looking at the wreckage on a freezing cold afternoon earlier this month. Gusts of wind played with the fresh mountain snow, throwing powder into the air and sweeping it until it became a fine white mist.
Caught up in the mystery, he decided to dig for it himself. His curiosity led him into a burrow of newspaper clippings and old photographs.
The car’s location on the trail was the first clue that something was wrong, he said.
After all, coverage of the accident by the Casper Tribune-Herald (the predecessor of the Star-Tribune) indicated that the vehicle had pulled off the road just beyond Lookout Point.
The Bridle Trail car is at least half a mile away, on a completely different part of the mountain. How could a car fall off Lookout Point and go sideways half a mile?
The next lead came from a photo of the 1937 crash.
The Tribune-Herald published four of them the day after the crash. One is a blurry black and white image looking at the car.
Uprooted and blowing up rough pines in its path, the crashed vehicle knocked over a deplorable assortment of humans, car cushions, boots, tools, marshmallows, pickles, sandwiches and ‘other articles,’ reads the caption.
The car in the photo is still on its side, and if you squint your eyes you can just make out the front. Its grille and bumper form a giant upside down T that protrudes from the rest of the hood.
Now take a closer look at the Bridle Trail car.
It’s about 30 feet below the east side of the top cutoff. The descent is steep and rocky and requires regular footwork.
The front of the car is round and flat, and the grille is much wider than the one pictured.
In fact, they don’t even seem to belong to the same decade. Ferguson took a close look at the build and speculated that it was a late 1940s Dodge sedan.
So what’s the real story behind the car? It’s still in the air. But it is not the same as that of the crash of 1937.
Ferguson believes it could be due to an accident that took place almost two decades later.
The Tribune-Herald reported on an accident involving two adults and two children, where a car veered off the road under the old Brookside Inn. They all survived.
This would better match the location of the wreckage, as well as the vehicle model.
What happened to the car that crashed in ’37? It is not clear either. As far as anyone can tell, he was transported from the mountain a long time ago.
The Bridle Trail car, in any case, has regained its status as one of Casper’s best-known mysteries. Until more information about it emerges, the bizarre landmark will continue to call hikers to the side of the trail – familiar but unfamiliar, like an unmarked grave.