The Great American West Has Many Claims To Fame
The Great American West states of Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming are well-known for many reasons – icons of nature, outdoor adventure, small-town charm and Western heritage, just to name a few. But there are some lesser-known stories and events that brought fame to our states and communities. Read on to find out!
Noted author Ernest Hemingway was famously fond of Idaho, Sun Valley and Ketchum in particular. And did you know that the 1997 movie “Dante’s Peak” was filmed in Wallace? Boise is home to the Old Idaho Penitentiary, which housed some of the meanest and most notorious Wild West criminals in its 100-year lifespan.
American singer Jimmy Buffett is famous for his beachy tunes, but he also has several connections to the state of Montana. Here’s a juicy tidbit: The song “Cheeseburger in Paradise” is believed to refer to a small burger joint just south of Livingston! The state has also been the setting for several famous TV shows and films, including the Paramount hit “Yellowstone” starring Kevin Costner (filmed in Western Montana’s Glacier Country) and the 1993 Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman film “Far and Away” (filmed at the Historic Billings Depot).
History buffs will know that former U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt had a special place in his heart for North Dakota. He even once led a 36-hour pursuit of armed boat thieves over a flooded and ice-filled river! And of course you’ll recognize Fargo from the 1996 namesake Cohen Brothers film – you can even see the infamous Woodchipper at the Visitors Center!
Leonardo DiCaprio and frontier history fans might recognize South Dakota as the setting of the 2016 film “The Revenant” and true-life story of Hugh Glass. Today, you can follow the route Glass took after being mauled by a grizzly bear. And Kevin Costner has spent a lot of time in the Great American West region – the 1990 movie “Dances With Wolves” was filmed at Fort Hays Town Square in Rapid City, and you can still see the original buildings used in the film.
Wyoming’s landscapes and Western history have drawn fame from all around the globe. In 1977, the otherworldly landmark Devils Tower drew Steven Spielberg to Wyoming to film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” A decade later, famed actor Viggo Mortensen spent time in Rawlins in 1987 to film the horror film “Prison” at the Wyoming Frontier Prison. Cody’s frontier history includes lots of colorful characters, including “Liver Eating” John Jeremiah Johnston, who inspired a 1972 movie starring Robert Redford. And Casper’s Hell’s Half Acre was used as a filming location for the 1997 movie “Starship Troopers”! Beyond Hollywood fame, Cheyenne is of course best known for the annual Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo, and the event and town have both gotten shout-outs in country western songs from artists like Garth Brooks, George Strait and Chris LeDoux.
The Great American West’s fame expands even further than Hollywood, with true culinary delights just south in Denver. The city is a destination for several beer, wine and food festivals, and you can find everything from local favorites like green chile to nationally ranked eateries in this foodie heaven.
For more information or to start planning your trip to the Great American West, visit GreatAmericanWest.co.