Monday, February 29, 2016

CC (part 8) - Little America

penguin at Little America/smithsk photo
What's this stuffed penguin doing in my hotel lobby?

Here's the story.

On a recent trip, we stayed at the first Little America,  just west of Rock Springs, Wyoming along Interstate 80. It's part of a hotel chain, as shown in the video below:

A part of Wyoming history.

In the 1890's, Stephen Mack Covey (1869-1959) was herding sheep in  south-western Wyoming. During a nasty blizzard, 50 mph winds, -40 degrees F, he hunkered down at the site of the future Little America. As he was weathering the storm, he remembered longing for a warm fire, food, and wool blankets.  That experience inspired him to build a shelter on that god-forsaken spot.

The first Little America, really down under

In January 1929, Admiral Byrd (1888-1957) established "Little America" as an outpost on the Antarctic continent. And few years after the Wyoming blizzard experience, Covey saw Admiral Byrd's photos of that "Little America" base camp used while exploring the South Pole.

Admiral Byrd's video at "Little America" is shown below:

The Admiral's isolation inspired Covey to erect a monument and create a refuge on the spot of his "harrowing experience" in Wyoming. Hence, Covey called his refuge for motorists, "Little America." [reference: Lincoln Highway-Little America ]

Little America penguin/smithsk
So Covey's Little America was born in 1932 by Stephen Mack Covey (1869-1959) as a small gas station-motel-cafe.

Originally, the owners wanted a penguin as their live mascot. But their chosen penguin, Emperor, died during the journey from Antarctica to Boston.

Making the best of a bad situation, Little America had the penguin stuffed and shipped anyway. For more about this mascot:  Emperor the Penguin
Little America dinosaur/smithsk

Now, that explained the stuffed penguin (shown at the top of the page) in the lobby. And the penguin picture perched at the top of the Little America registration building(shown to the left).

In the 1950s, Robert Earl Holding (1926-2013) managed Little America and later bought it in 1966. He expanded the two fuel pumps, a 24-seat cafe, and 12 guest rooms hotel to 140 rooms with many more gas pumps for both truck drivers and travelers.

If the green dinosaur (shown to the right) below its penguin mascot perched on the roof looks familiar, it's the logo for Sinclair Oil Company.  And it just so happened that Robert Holding bought Sinclair Oil in 1976, ten years after he bought Little America.  [reference: Robert Earl Holding Dead: Billionaire Owner Of Sinclair Oil Dies At 86 ]

For a complete history, check out: Little America, Wyoming: a haven for the traveler

The connection to another story.

Little America gets a mention in His Tribe of One, the first in the series of The Commander and the Chief

During an expedition in another god-forsaken place, Chief Nova Orlovic likens the Middle-Eastern desert to the Badlands of the Dakotas. And she makes the following comments to her agents, Colonel Jack Sheffield and Commander Reginald Barrett :

“Magnificent desolation.” Nova scanned the wilderness—edifices of stone, rising like fortresses, floating on an ocean of pale yellow sand.

“I’ve heard that before. Somewhere.” Reggie skimmed the desert-scape from his backseat window.

Nova turned around. “Buzz Aldrin.”

“Buzz who?” Reggie squinted at her.

“How quickly we forget.” Nova shook her head. “Buzz Aldrin was the second man on the moon…after Neil Armstrong, of course.”

“Right-o.” Jack chimed in. “Admiral Quinn was an astronaut. So you know this ancient history.”

“Doesn’t seem that long ago, though it happened before I was born.” Nova panned the moonscape-like desert. “Yet this place reminds me of the Badlands in the Dakotas, only with sand and stuff.”

Jack said, “So these Badlands look like the moon?”

“In many ways, they do.” Nova returned a fond look. “Actually Jack, parts of Wyoming have been likened to Antarctica.”

“Because Wyoming’s as remote as the far side of the moon?” Reggie chuckled.

“It’s like this, Commander Barrett.” Nova raised her shoulders as well as her voice. “One of our motel chains, Little America, started in southwest Wyoming, a place of warm hospitality in the harshness of winter.”

“Little America? Sounds just the opposite of Great Britain.”

“Yep. Little America. Named after Admiral Byrd’s station at the South Pole. And that’s why the Little America mascot is a penguin.”

“Who cares?” Reggie threw up his hands.

Jack’s tablet beeped. “Hate to break up this lovely conversation, people, but it’s time for the next passover of the big eye in the sky.”

from Part 5: The Badlands, Chapter 1: The Backside of the Desert.
[for more info on the book: ]

To find out more about this Little America and Great Britain tension, please read the book and its coming sequels.

His Tribe of One, now available:

* Paperback:  CreateSpace

* eBook:   Kindle

Your readership is much appreciated.

S. K. Smith


For other posts in this series:

CC (part 1) - The Commander and the Chief: His Tribe of One (2014)

CC (part 2) - Universe in a Glass of Wine  (2014)

CC (part 3) - Happy Bill of Rights Day  (2014)

CC (part 4) - Stories and the Brain (2015)

CC (part 5) - Audie Murphy  (2014)

CC (part 6) - Pavle Orlovic (2015)

CC (part 7) - Buzz Aldrin  (2015)


photos: penguin at Little America/smithsk;                 Little America penguin/smithsk;                  Little America dinosaur/smithsk

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