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The A.L. Mickelson Field Station was completed and opened to serve the public in 1982. It was built on 14 acres originally purchased by the Northwest College Foundation. Construction of the main buildings was funded in part by the Wyoming Recreation Commission. The station's name honors the late A. Leonard Mickelson, professor emeritus of botany and founder of the field station.
In 1990, the NWC Foundation purchased adjacent acreage; the facility now rests on approximately 60 acres near the top of Dead Indian Hill and surrounded by Shoshone National Forest.
The field station property was a part of a 60-acre tract homesteaded at the turn of the century by the John Prante family. The family cabin homestead on Paint Creek was often a welcome site to travelers journeying to and from Sunlight Basin, particularly during inclement weather.
Dead Indian Hill acquired its name from a battle fought in 1878 between the Bannock Indians, led by Chief Elk Horn, and the U.S. Army, led by General Miles. The battle was fought at a site currently known as Bennett Creek. A wounded Bannock, who had made his escape after the battle, was killed by a party of Crow scouts. They left his body where it fell, hence, Dead Indian Hill.
The Bannock tribe was headed in the same direction as were the Nez Perce, led by Chief Joseph. In 1877 Chief Joseph led the Nez Perce on a 1,170-mile journey from Oregon to Montana, pursued by the U.S. Army under command of General Oliver Howard. The Nez Perce crossed the south rim of the Clark's Fork Canyon from Crandall Creek to Dead Indian Hill.