Middle Fork Popo Agie River
|Middle Fork Popo Agie River|
The Middle Fork Popo Agie River seen from Main Street in Lander Wyoming.
The Flow of the Middle Fork Popo Agie from source to confluence.
|Etymology||word po-PO-shuh, meaning "Head River" or possibly "Gurgling River" |
|⁃ location||Wind River Range, Fremont County|
|⁃ elevation||12,000 ft (3,700 m)|
|Mouth||North Popo Agie|
|5,000 ft (1,500 m)|
|Length||54 mi (87 km)|
|⁃ left||Baldwin Creek, Beason Creek|
|⁃ right||Sawmill Creek, Red Canyon Creek|
The Middle Fork Popo Agie River is a river in Wyoming in the United States. The river is 54 miles (87 km)long. The river is sometimes referred to as simply the 'Middle Fork'. The river is part of the Popo Agie Watershed and from its headwaters in the Wind River Range until it joins with the North Fork Popo Agie River, the river and its tributaries irrigate roughly 11,503 acres.
The river is notable for passing underground through a sinkhole in Sinks Canyon State Park, only to emerge several hundred yards downstream at "the rise." The ground distance is not far, but tests with dye have shown it takes the water many hours to flow through the underground passage.
The Middle Fork is fed from spring sources, seasonal precipitation and annual snow melt, irrigation return flows, several tributaries including the Sawmill, Hornecker, and Baldwin Creeks, and the North Fork of the Popo Agie River. A significant tributary comes from Roaring Fork Creek downstream of Worthen Meadow Reservoir. The river's head is near Sweetwater Gap in the southern Wind River Range and it flows through the mountains, reaching Sinks Canyon and eventually Lander before joining the North Fork of the Popo Agie River to form the Popo Agie, or Big Popo Agie River. The river then joins the Little Popo Agie River before its confluence at the Little Wind River.
The river has likely been known to native peoples for thousands of years. But one of the first written accounts comes from Benjamin Bonneville around 1833 when his expedition explored the Wind River region. The word 'Popo', in the Crow language signifies 'Head' and 'Agie', means 'River'. However, the name has also been translated as "Gurgling River"
The Crow Tribe's Apsalooke Place Names Database at Little Bighorn College, which was created by Crow linguists and historians, records the name of the river as Poppootcháashe, an onomatopoeia meaning "plopping river" which describes the sound the river makes when it passes into the sinkhole in Sinks Canyon.
The river's flow and surrounding geological makeup have been studied for decades. By the early 20th Century, numerous minerals and other potential resources had been identified to possibly be developed. Everything from Limestone and Marble mining to hydroelectric power potential had been studied along the river.
The Sinks of the Popo Agie figure into the climax of James Galvin's 2000 novel Fencing the Sky.
- Claude E. Jamison; Wyoming. State Geologist (1911). Bulletin. State Geologist. p. 7.
- "Sinks Canyon State Park History". Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites & Trails. State of Wyoming. Retrieved Feb 28, 2017.
- "Popo Agie Hydrology". Popo Agie Conservation District. Popo Agie Conservation District. Retrieved Feb 28, 2017.
- "Middle Fork of the Popo Agie River Bacterial Monitoring Projects" (PDF). Middle Fork of the Popo Agie River. Popo Agie Conservation District. Retrieved Feb 28, 2017.
- ARIX Corporation (1987). LANDER REHABILITATION PROJECT LEVEL II FEASIBILITY STUDY (PDF). ARIX Corporation. p. 1.
- Claude E. Jamison; Wyoming. State Geologist (1911). Bulletin. State Geologist. p. 108.