Martin Aimone son of Joseph and Frances was born, raised and passed on a cattle and sheep ranch outside of Fort Bridger Wyoming. He was one of 13 children from Italian emigrants who homesteaded the ranch in 1912. All of the children worked the ranch and were assigned chores. The operation started as a dairy where they milked 30 cows and provided dairy products to the coal miners in Cumberland, WY.
Joseph diversified the operation after the depression to include sheep and beef cattle. At age 10, Martin would spend the summer 24 miles from home on the summer range tending sheep. His dad would bring him supplies and ammunition to keep the coyotes from getting the sheep. Martin said “I was a little scared, but I couldn’t tell papa. He would have told me to man up, he was working in the coal mines at my age.”
The war broke out and all of Martins brothers we called to serve, except him and one other brother. He had to quit school and work the ranch. He worked other jobs shearing sheep, breaking horses, working teams and rode saddle broncs. In 1948, Martin was the Champion Amateur Bronc Rider for Western Wyoming Cowboy Days, Evanston Wyoming. Martin won the All-around for Chuck wagon Days in Big Piney in 1952. He spent many hours traveling with Jack Hickey, Marion Aimone, Gilbert Taylor, and Harry Taylor.
He and his brother Felix purchased the ranch after the war and worked it together until the early 1990’s when he purchased it from Felix. During tat time, Felix and Martin received Outstanding Cooperators from the Bridger Valley Conservation District. The American Legion Rodeo Grounds resides on property in which Felix and Martin provided a 40 year lease to the community. They both worked countless hours building and working to ensure that the American Legion had a good rodeo facility. They would provide sheep for the mutton busting, chute help and work where ever needed.
Martin’s love for rodeo continued on when he, Reed Utley, and Pete Ellingford brought the first roping steers to Bridger Valley and started a roping club. Martin also provided the race track for the chariot races that were held in Fort Bridger. In 1977 Martin was the Champion Header at Lamond Platts’s Arena and 1978 he and Bud Husman won the team roping at the Fort Bridger rodeo.
Martin was civic minded and served on numerous boards: Bridger Valley Rural Electric Board, 33 years; Uinta County Weed and Pest District, 30 years; Uinta County Predator Board, 34 years; Honorary Chapter for Jim Bridger FFA; Colorado River Water Users Association, lifetime member of the Lions Club and Bridger Valley Water Conservancy Board. He was very conscientious regarding public funds and serving for the betterment of the community. He always felt if you thought something was wrong and needed changed you better take the initiative and do something about it.
Over the years Martin worked the ranch when most would retire. He would always say, “What am I going to do when I retire? Why would you leave something you love?” He felt the responsibility to improve the land, take care of the livestock, and preserve the habitat for livestock and wildlife. His body wore out, but his heart never did. He was always out working; his last summer was spent on the swather cutting the best hay crop he had seen in 50 years. He had health issues and was in and out of the hospital, but if someone could help him get into the swather, tractor or on a horse the smile was a mile wide. December 16, Martin finally left his ranch at the age of 88. His children promised they would get him home and they did. Never was there a man that loved his lifestyle more than Martin Aimone. The cows, sheep and his ranch came first. Cowboying was not something on TV or the clothes he put on, it was his passion and his way of life.