The Historic Bishop Home Museum sets atop Capitol Hill in Casper, a perfect spot to view and contemplate the many changes in our world. Passenger trains began arriving in Casper in 1888; but, when M.L. Bishop built his new home in 1907, Casper was a “horse and buggy” town of approximately 2,500 residents. The first motorized transportation or “automobile” arrived from the east by train in the summer of 1908, and was owned by Mr. J. P. Cantillon, the Wyoming and Northwestern Railway Division Superintendent. The auto was a second-hand Pope-Toledo, 20-horsepower machine, and after being unloaded from the train, it was driven the first day east on Second Street from Center — past the Bishop Home at 818 East 2nd St. After this stalwart home witnessed the arrival of automobiles to Casper, it later experienced the arrival of air transportation to Natrona County as a World War II air base, and then as an international airport. During the mid-1940s, the world’s fascination with different modes of transportation, rockets and space exploration continued to grow.
The Bishop Home was 50 years old when the Soviet Union launched “Sputnik I”, and the “race for space” was on between the United States and the Soviet Union. President John F. Kennedy’s announcement of Project Apollo and the challenging goal of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth” before 1970 ignited a cultural shift in our country. Mathematics, engineering and science grew in popularity. While half of the Americans living today were not born or were very young on July 20, 1969, the events of that day changed their aspirations and opportunities. The other half of the population crawled out of bed to watch television and witness the live broadcast of the Apollo 11 astronauts navigating their spacecraft towards the moon landing, and Neil Armstrong setting foot on the surface telling the millions of listeners, “one small step for man — one giant leap for mankind.” To this day, people love to recall where they were on this proud day in our nation’s history.
We, as a nation, will commemorate the 50th anniversary of this event in July. One of those whose life and opportunities changed as the result of the lunar landing was Ryan Landon Prouty, the daughter of Casper residents Dr. and Mrs. Tom (Shelley) Landon, graduate of the University of Wyoming, and currently Manager of the Mission Integration and Operations Office for the International Space Station Program. Like many young people, Ms. Prouty dreamed of space, going into space, becoming an astronaut or working for NASA. The cultural shift that swept the country made these dreams possible, and Ms. Prouty and others capitalized on these opportunities.
To celebrate this event, the Historic Bishop Home’s throwback event this year features the return of Ms. Prouty to her home city and state to speak on “What we did 50 years ago to land on the moon and what we are doing today to take humans into space.” The event is June 22. In addition to the evening event, the Historic Bishop Home is sponsoring a “Space Camp for Kids” on June 27 in which Ms. Prouty will help future astronauts plan “their trip into space.” For more information on these events or to make reservations, visit www.cadomafoundation.org, follow the Historic Bishop Home Museum on Facebook or call 307-235-5277.
The Historic Bishop Home, Casper’s only Historic Home open for touring, is located at 818 East Second St. between Lincoln and Jefferson. Tour hours are Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Parking is available behind the home off Lincoln Street. The home is owned by the Cadoma Foundation, a non-governmental, private Wyoming non-profit. Donations support the operations and maintenance of the home.