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STORY— Misty Stoll, superintendent of Fort Phil Kearny State Historic Site, grew up on the Powder River in Arvada. She is a sixth generation Wyomingite, whose parents are ranchers and farmers.
After studying American studies at the University of Wyoming, she returned home to raise her two daughters at the farm on Clear Creek where she and her husband also raise goats.
When Stoll was 7 years old, she rode her horse on a section of the Bozeman Trail as part of the Bozeman Trail Wagon Train in 1989. She and her friend swam their horses in Lake Desmet and rode their horses bareback, jumping the ditches in the fields at Fort Phil Kearny. Little did she know that she would later manage those fields and be an interpreter of that very site.
Stoll credits Mary Humstone with her passion for preservation and historic spaces.
According to Humstone, a consultant in historic preservation and founding board member of the Alliance for Historic Wyoming, Stoll was not only a student of her’s but also worked with her as an undergraduate and graduate research assistant. Humstone described Stoll as a very bright, creative thinker who is very open to new ideas.
“Misty was one of my first students,” Humstone said. “She was an undergraduate at the time and was taking an upper-level undergraduate/graduate field course with me where we did a survey of the Sheridan Railroad Historic District in preparation for determining whether that would be eligible for National Register of Historic District.”
Stoll was also involved with Humstone on a project to preserve historic schools in Wyoming by working to get some legislation passed that considered the historic qualities of school buildings before they were demolished. A small group of students, including Stoll, worked with a lobbyist and a legislator on the legislation. Stoll testified in front of a legislative committee, assisting in getting the legislation introduced.
“Misty is very tied into her roots in Arvada and through some excellent research, gave a very compassionate plea for preservation of the Arvada Elementary School, which at that time was being considered for replacement,” Humstone said.
After graduation, Stoll taught Wyoming history at Laramie County Community College, where she shared her passion for Wyoming’s past and its relevance to Wyoming today. She worked with Humstone serving on the board of the Alliance for Historic Wyoming, but resigned from the board when she accepted a position at the Wyoming Territorial Prison in Laramie.
She was named the new superintendent of Fort Phil Kearny State Historic Site and National Historic Landmark in 2012.
“I picked up where former superintendents Bob Wilson and Sonny Reisch, and a really strong board of the Bozeman Trail Association, left off,” Stoll said. “Because of their dedication and vision, the historic site now encompasses 600 acres around the fort and 400 acres around the battlefield.”
“The idea in historic preservation of a cultural landscape is what I think really resonated with Misty because of her background coming from a rural area of Wyoming,” Humstone said. “I see her applying that in her current position at Fort Phil Kearny, in that it’s not just about the artifacts or about the stories, but it’s the landscape that remains where you can really imagine all of those things happening. I think she has always had this creative approach to what’s special about Wyoming and she’s very good at communicating that.”
Stoll gets satisfaction out of not only providing interpretations for visitors, but also through opportunities to have a voice in the development of policies that affect what people see in Wyoming.
She has helped develop grazing policies which didn’t exist before.
The policies dictate how a lessee would be selected and rewarded for proper land management practices such as irrigation, fertilizing and maintaining ditches an fences.
Humstone noted that Misty has provided a fresh way of looking at historic sites.
“She has shown that you can interpret these in the same way they have been interpreted for years or you can look at them in a different way and maybe find some new angles and new ways to think about and interpret an historic site,” Humstone said.
“Misty is good for the site,” Wilson said. “She’s put a little bit of fire back in the fort. She is trying to get it more involved in the community, and the community is more aware of it than they were before. She’s really good at working with people, with her fellow workers, the public and her contemporaries in the museum.”
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