The Biennial International Hemingway Conference has been held in places worldwide, such as France, Italy, and Switzerland. After being canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, the conference is back this year with two venues: first in Sheridan, Wyoming, and then in Cooke City, Montana.
Chris Warren is a Cooke City local and member of the Hemingway Conference. He is also the author of Ernest Hemingway in the Yellowstone High Country. He has been working on getting the Hemingway conference to the area for the last five years. He traveled to the conference in 2018, held in Paris, France, where he presented his paper establishing Cooke City as the setting of Hemingway’s last short story. While there, Warren also submitted his proposal to have the conference in the mountain town and was successful. The conference was set for 2020 before being rescheduled.
Now, it’s set for 2022 after the area was impacted by the flooding that shut down the northeast entrance of Yellowstone, which is only a few miles from Cooke City-Silver Gate area. Both towns rely on tourists who come through to get to Yellowstone or people simply wanting to come to see the area. But with the road closures, the town remains empty with all shops and restaurants open and no one there to explore them.
The Cooke City-Silver Gate Area was affected by record-breaking floods in June that destroyed one of the roads to Yellowstone National Park. This has become an economic setback for Cooke City and Silver Gate since both communities rely on summer tourists to make money. Current access to the area is from the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway in Cody, Wyoming, and through Billings, Montana. That is where help from Billings and surrounding areas can come in.
Warren stresses that there are still ways to get to the area, which is worth seeing. The mountain towns are not as hot as other areas, making them a great place to cool off from the summer heat. On top of writing, Warren also makes a living in the service and tourism industry. He is a bartender at the Range Rider Lodge in town, the host institution for the Hemingway Conference. This is just one place people can stay and explore the town. Silver Gate Lodging is also offering a pay-what-you-can deal as a way to get people to stay there and as a way to stabilize the economy.
There is a community connection between Sheridan and Cooke City with famous author Ernest Hemingway, making it the perfect place to hold the conference. Hopefully, the conference shows how beautiful this area is, and tourists can save the town by visiting in August and September. Plan your trip to the Cooke City-Silver Gate Area and be greeted by friendly locals happy to see tourists exploring the mountain towns once again.