Articles written by Tom Gagnon


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  • Letter to the Editor: Time is against cult leaders

    Tom Gagnon, Rock Springs|Aug 11, 2022

    Dear Editor, Charlie Manson and Donald Trump have several things in common. Both have initiated violent crimes that neither man was directly involved in, yet these crimes would not have happened except for their planning, brainwashing, and encouragement. This is known as “vicarious conspiracy,” while they share “vicarious liability,” or responsibility. Part of Manson’s brainwashing efforts involved the name of a Beatles song, “Helter Skelter.” Manson envisioned a coming race war that he called The Helter Skelter. Black people were going to rise... Full story

  • COVID-19 does not care about politics

    Tom Gagnon, Guest Columnist|Oct 28, 2021

    Responding to an article by Wyoming Rep. Marshall Burt, there is a need for “A Word” from the more rational side of the COVID-19 debate. Burt is opposed to the Biden Administration’s efforts to battle COVID-19, citing that it is an unconstitutional overreach of power. Meanwhile, we should remember that this virus, like past ones, laughs at our political arguments. COVID-19 never gets tired, and it might be just beginning. Children are increasingly dying. All COVID-19 requires is an unvaccinated population, and Wyoming freely offers this to th...

  • A Democrat for Liz Cheney

    Tom Gagnon, Guest Columnist|Aug 12, 2021

    Debasing myself politically, I’ve joined the Republican Party. I never thought I would do this. The first time that I could vote in a primary, in New Hampshire in 1980, I voted for Jerry Brown. At Winter Park, Colorado, about 1984, I registered as a socialist. The election official was shocked and became angry. She nearly had a heart attack. Later, she told me it was the altitude. I knew better. A few years later, in Durango, I registered as a Green. My vote for Ralph Nader put George H.W. Bush in the White House. For the next several d...

  • State's future might be in Arizona

    Tom Gagnon, Guest Columnist|Jan 15, 2020

    This is a story about Wyoming’s near future, though it takes place in Arizona. Entering Page, Ariz., the plan was to ask one question of ten people, “With the closing of the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station (NGS), on Nov. 18, 2019, is the view less hazy?” If I were not understood, I would ask something like, “Can you now see the mountains over there more clearly?” Or, I could ask, “Has the air quality gotten a little better?” Nine out of the 10 answered in the affirmative. Their answers ranged from, “Much more clear and better,” to a t...

  • Wyo. appear's to have a new deal

    Tom Gagnon, Guest Columnist|Oct 31, 2019

    The economic-panel discussion on Boom and Bust Cycles came to Rock Springs on Oct. 9. It was held at Western Wyoming Community College, and generously funded by the American Heritage Center. In attendance were about 75 people from the area. On the panel, acting as moderator was former Wyoming governor, later ambassador to Ireland, Mike Sullivan. The panelists were former Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal, who led the state in its most prosperous years; State Sen. Dan Dockstader of Star Valley; State Sen. Tara Nethercott of Cheyenne, the leader in...

  • Recollections of the election

    Tom Gagnon, Guest Columnist|Dec 5, 2018

    Running for an elective office is something I had never pictured myself doing. I’ve even looked down on politicians as somewhat less than human. Then one day I read something written by the Sweetwater County Conservation District (SWCCD), in March, 2018. This could not stand. Something had to be done. It was so utterly wrong and misleading, even using as a supporting document RS2477, written in 1866, then repealed in 1976, that I was shocked and almost vomited. I was mortified at the low level to which a government advisory committee would s...

  • Bank decision pits state against progress

    Tom Gagnon, Guest Columnist|Sep 26, 2018

    Bank of the West is not unique in the clean-energy course that it has decided upon. Lots of other organizations and companies have made similar declarations. Most of the Ivy League has been divesting from fossil fuels for years, the Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations have made their pro-environment pronouncements, as have hundreds of companies, including Walmart, Amazon, Ford, and Hewlett-Packard. The bank’s move is 100 percent in accord with all the countries of the world, except the United States, because of someone’s move to...

  • Self interests dominate land debate

    Tom Gagnon, Guest Columnist|Aug 15, 2018

    “Mr. Gagnon you’re out of order!” shouted the chairperson. It was Aug. 2, at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Sweetwater County Conservation District (SWCCD). It’s hard to make a point in a public meeting when you’re told to make it very brief, and the subject you’re trying to address has a long and wide history, a complex present, and its outcome will be consequential in many ways. At issue was, and is, the SWCCD’s plan to kill off the 13 Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) in Sweetwater County. This effort is being made across rural counties...

  • County conservation district may seek blocks to wilderness designation

    Tom Gagnon, Guest Columnist|Jul 25, 2018

    Wilderness, Old English for “self-willed land,” is suggestive of the American spirit of self-reliance, rugged individualism, and adventurousness –these characteristics receiving birth from Wilderness itself. Return visits for us and for future generations is a restorative to the world’s continuation. It’s sort of like visiting with great, great, great, great, grandparents. What remains of legally designated Wilderness Areas, and Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs), which are, ideally, future Wilderness Areas, are important for several reasons,...

  • The growing U.S. resistance

    Tom Gagnon, Guest Columnist|Dec 27, 2017

    Winning enough electoral votes to make Trump president was completely unexpected. It was shocking and awful in every way. Within hours, however, a concept calling itself “The Resistance” formed. Even here in conservative Wyoming, this resistance, this awakening, has been impressive. This has been good until now, but it’s time to ratchet things up to “The Revolt.” The goals of the Rebellion should be: 1. The removal of Donald Trump as president. 2. Put all major legislation, such as related to “tax reform”, and the size of national monu...

  • Wyoming's existential crisis

    TOM GAGNON, Guest Columnist|Dec 20, 2017

    Counting down the final days of the Trump administration, it can’t come soon enough, and Wyoming is in an existential crisis. That is, who and what are we? What do we like and dislike? Do we have any values? Here we are, a well-educated people, we mostly associate ourselves with the ideals of democracy and Christianity and high moral standards. Yet on November 8th of last year, this state overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump. 70%, the highest in the nation. It’s really perplexing, especially given that we had ample warning. What does this say...

  • The threats facing condors

    TOM GAGNON, Guest Columnist|Nov 8, 2017

    Soaring high over the Arizona desert, condors search the landscape for meat. Anything will do: a gut pile left by a hunter; a lightning killed bison; or a tourist falling over the edge of the Grand Canyon. On an autumnal drive through northern Arizona, my Uncle Gerry Gagnon and I turned off a highway to the House Rock condor viewing area. The white guano-stain marks, just beneath the nests of the great birds, can be seen with the naked eye from miles away. The dark spots, against the blue sky, are condors. They glide swiftly and seemingly witho...

  • Witnessing the Great American Eclipse in the Wind River Range

    TOM GAGNON, Guest Columnist|Sep 27, 2017

    Unzipping the tent screen, I emerged into the dawn of the day of the great eclipse, the 21st of August, 2017. I was camped at Mistake Lake, at an elevation of 10,800 feet, in the Titcomb Basin, located in the center of Wyoming’s Wind River Range. Below, on the prominent moraine between two big lakes, were fourteen tents. I was to pass another thirty to forty tents on the upper reaches of the basin. Perhaps never before had the basin been so crowded. For that matter, neither had the state, now with five or six times its usual population, owing t...

  • Time traveling in the Wind River Range

    Tom Gagnon|Aug 16, 2017

    What if you were on a long trip, and away from all media, and when you came back everything had changed? I always liked the “Planet of the Apes” movies. You go on a little space-ship ride, and look what you come back to. My immediate future holds this prospect. I plan to be high and far away in the Wind River Range, for the total solar eclipse, on Aug. 21. I’ll be out there with my friend Jeff. This might be a 10-day hike. Between the two of us, we might have one phone, but we know that reception is often impossible up there. We’ll likely...

  • Donald Trump on the range

    Tom Gagnon, Guest Columnist|Aug 2, 2017

    (Editor note: This column is fiction, but reflects the writer’s views of where the country is headed) Maneuvering the artillery took months longer than anyone had imagined. The impatient commander-in-chief yelled and screamed and twisted and contorted his face more than was usual even for him. He shouted “You’re fired!” more times than anyone could count. On the periphery of the farms the barrage opened up. The formerly majestic windmills came crashing to the ground. They got twisted and crumpled and lay in the corn. Meanwhile the smashing crew...

  • Old Sarum and Wyoming have a lot in common

    Tom Gagnon, Guest Columnist|Jul 26, 2017

    Old Sarum, in Wiltshire, England, had seven voters, none of whom lived there, and two seats in the House of Commons. No one had actually lived there for two centuries. Elections were held under a tree in the “Election Acre.” Old Sarum came to be known as a “rotten borough.” Manchester had 180,000 people, and not a single seat in parliament. It was the early 1800s, and this situation was not to be corrected till the Reform Act of 1832. So, what does this have to do with Wyoming? I’ll get to that. Complaining about Big Government has become a maj...

  • The devil and Donald Trump, a political analogy

    Tom Gagnon, Guest Columnist|Apr 26, 2017

    Jabez Stone was a New Hampshire farmer. The time was before the Civil War. Things weren’t going well for him. Boulders emerged in his fields, his potatoes got the blight, his corn went to the borers, his horse got spavins, his wife and children were sick, and he couldn’t afford to feed them. Working hard in his field he broke his expensive and new plowshare. Emotionally struck, he swooned down to the earth on his hands and knees and cried, “I vow it’s enough to make a man want to sell his soul to the devil!” Soon a tall, thin man alighted...

  • A reflective walk through the Dark Canyon

    Tom Gagnon, Guest Columnist|Mar 8, 2017

    Walking the land is a form of poetry. My preference is off-trail walking, especially in the high deserts of the west. Every curve and slope, drainage and rock outcropping, becomes an experience. There is no better way to observe animals, plants, rocks and soil, the weather, and your own heart rate, and new thoughts and deep old memories. It can be done singly or with a friend. This is the original activity and pace and rhythm of human observation, learning, and thinking. Ken Wright and I exited Dark Canyon by way of the tributary Lean-to...

  • The next economic boom will be Wyoming's last

    Tom Gagnon, Guest Columnist|Feb 1, 2017

    Booming times for Wyoming’s oil, gas, and coal industries might come again, but the next boom may be the last one, or, at any rate, the booms will become less and less significant. Perhaps something like open warfare breaking out between Saudi Arabia and Iran, or a Civil War within Russia, would reduce global energy output enough to create huge demands for our state’s fossil fuels, and prices will skyrocket, thus solving our state’s economic problems overnight. This, however, would only be putting off the inevitable; fossil fuels are being...

  • Solar is the future Wyoming can't ignore

    Tom Gagnon, Guest Columnist|Jan 4, 2017

    Riding with my friend John in his Nissan Leaf, an electric vehicle, the car made no sound at all. With the windows open you can hear the changing of gears on nearby bicycles, and you can hear the breeze in the branches over the boulevards. We were in his town of Fort Collins, Colo. John works as a sustainability coordinator for a group of hospitals. He was giving me a tour of solar installations all over town, including new construction with the solar panels built right into the roofs; or rather, the roofs were solar panels. John said that a...

  • A jolting experience leads to gun control thoughts

    Tom Gagnon, Guest Columnist|Nov 23, 2016

    Finding the body was a jolting experience. The skull was facing upwards. He had a full row of upper teeth, but the lower jaw was gone. What might have been a t-shirt covered his upper rib cage, but it looked like animals had been gnawing. Arm bones stuck out the left sleeve, and some lower vertebrae were exposed. It looked like the pants were blue jeans, but now they had many holes and tears, and bones whitened in the desert air. His hiking boots were of the common design. Later, a sheriff’s deputy would find a .22 pistol under the corpse of P...

  • A hike in Utah ends with memorable find

    Tom Gagnon, Guest Columnist|Oct 19, 2016
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    Spotting the crack in the cliff from the dry floor of the canyon, it looked to require an ascent of about 300 feet on loose scree, some bushwhacking, and then a short climb. What I was looking for, I didn’t know, but probably would once I found it. These kinds of hiding places abound in the west. In the interest of not having a lot of people flock to the location, I will only say that I was within Canyonlands National Park. Over the years I’ve done about 10 hikes in Canyonlands, always from four to 10 days. This is not extremely long, but lon...

  • The caveman and the bobcat

    Tom Gagnon, Guest Columnist|Sep 14, 2016

    I sometimes camp under rock overhangs of about 5-50 feet deep, and a few to several feet high and wide. Here I’ll just call them caves. In the summertime I don’t generally camp in them, because there are too many critters like snakes and scorpions, various bugs and rodents. This is especially true in ones that have a lot of loose and broken-up rock, cracks in the walls, odd combustible items, and sometimes moss or dripping. The time to camp in a cave, to be a caveman, is in the winter. I have half a dozen such places scattered around Wyo...

  • Coal and orange jump suits

    Tom Gagnon, Guest column|May 25, 2016

    At least now we have something to do with the rainy-day fund, and some people may need orange jump suits. It just seemed like a big hole in the ground, and how could that be bad out on the empty prairie. It was four decades ago. Cities like Gillette, Wyoming, wouldn’t even be there now, maybe it would be a town, like a prairie-dog town, but not much in human economic terms. All these big coal mining companies came in, like Arch and Alpha and Peabody. They promised thousands of jobs and infrastructure and a great source of tax money. They a...

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