Located along Teepee Creek in the Bighorn Mountains, Teepee Lodge had its origins as a private hunting lodge. Established by the Wallop Family of Big Horn about 1905, it served as a private retreat in the Bighorns. There is also evidence to suggest the lodge provided wild game for the Burlington & Missouri Railroad. Oliver “Noll” Wallop was the fourth and youngest son of Earl of Portsmouth. Wallop came to the United States in the late 1880s. Drawn out west, he ranched in southern Montana for a time before moving into northern Wyoming. Wallop established his Canyon Ranch near Big Horn in 1888. He established his private hunting lodge sometime thereafter. Wallop was a figure in local and state politics. He represented Sheridan County during the Wyoming’s Constitutional Convention in 1889 and later served in the 9th Wyoming Legislature. Wallop returned to England following the death of his father and older brothers becoming the 9th Earl of Portsmouth and serving in the House of Lords.
Teepee Lodge with is original English ownership and connection to nearby Big Horn, Wyoming was included in the area called “Little England.” The area received the sobriquet through the due to elegant, European style homes and small horse ranches common around Big Horn. Many of the original owners had been involved with the open range cattle business. While not opulent, homes in “Little England” provided their occupants a degree of comfort comparable to European or East Coast standards.
Teepee Lodge remained a private retreat until the late 1910s. Prior to the First World War, Michael Evans was hired as the first full time manager. A British expatriate, Evans had lived in the Sheridan for several years working on several commercial ventures, including gold mining, in the Bighorns. Hired shortly before the First World War, he brought dude ranching to Teepee.
As Teepee Lodge grew, it became a partnership with several shareholders. This included St. Louis, Missouri banker William Fordyce. Fordyce and his family, including his wife Christine and son Allen, had started vacationing in Sheridan County in 1908. At first they stayed at Eaton’s Ranch at Wolf, Wyoming. After several years at Eaton’s, Fordyce and his family began staying at Teepee. The Fordyce Family found something special at Teepee. In 1917 William purchased several shares in the business, as did his brother. It marked the beginning of a connection between Teepee Lodge and the Fordyce Family stretching into the 1970s.
DPB “Barry” Marshall replaced Michael Evans as the manager of Teepee Lodge. Growth was slow at Teepee during the 1920s. The only noticeable change under Marshall’s management was adoption of “Teepee Lodge Association” as the official name. In 1928, William Fordyce and his partners replaced Marshall and hired a new manager. They hired William’s son Allen just in time for the 1928 season.
Allen Fordyce had just graduated from Harvard University when he started at Teepee. An athlete and member of the Harvard Lampoon, Starting in 1917, he had spend many summers on the ranch. However he had little experience actually running the operation. He later said, “My only qualifications for this job were that I knew the horses by name and one from another, and the foreman had just left.”
Allen received shares in the Teepee Lodge Association from his father and uncle. The following year he bought out the remaining partners.
Allen owned and operated Teepee Lodge from 1928 until 1947. In 1933, Allen married Ethel Marian Robertson who became an integral part of Teepee. Originally from British Columbia, Marian, as she was known, received her educated in Eastern Canada and England. She oversaw the financial operation for Teepee and the family’s other commercial ventures. The dude ranch, like most, closed during the Second World War. After the war Allen and Marian Teepee resumed operation. They sold Teepee Lodge to Bob Robertson in 1947 to focus on their cattle operations.
Robertson operated Teepee from 1947 until 1953 when he sold it back to Allen and Marian. They continued to operate Teepee until 1964 when Allen and Marian turned the business over to their son, Allen “Ike” Fordyce, Jr.. Ike operated Teepee Lodge until 1972. The property was sold and converted back to a private retreat.
Located over three sections of deeded land (1920 acres), Teepee Lodge was surrounded by the Bighorn National Forest. The Lodge included a main dining hall, laundry, corrals, and guest cabins. With its location in the heart of the Bighorns, guests had the opportunity for a wide range of activities. Horseback rides and extended pack trips were common. Fishing was also very popular. The main lodge offered various social activities, such as dances. For several years Teepee Lodge sponsored a polo team. Made up of Teepee wranglers, the team competed locally at the Big Horn Polo Field. Teepee also offered winter skiing.
The Dude Connection, Bucky King, Jelm Mountain Press, 1983
“Allen & Marian Fordyce” by Mary Ellen McWilliams, Sheridan County Heritage, Sheridan County Homemakers Council, 1983
Allen O. Fordyce & Ethel Marian Fordyce, Find-A-Grave.com
Dudes in the Mountains MacCarty Collection Cabin at Teepee, MacCarty Collection Allen Fordyce & Mr. Roush, MacCarty Collection Corrals & Tack Room at Teepee, MacCarty Collection Running Horses, MacCarty Collection Old Dining Hall, MacCarty Collection Cook at Teepee Lodge, MacCarty Collection Teepee Polo Team, MacCarty Collection The Cavvy at Teepee, Ostrum Collection Trick Riders at Teepee Lodge, MacCarty Collection
Images From MacCarty & Ostrum Collections
© Sheridan County Historical Society, 2016