The Powder River Basin coal-bed methane boom in the early 2000s stirred controversies over land rights, mineral rights, environmental stewardship, the disposal of water and—at every turn—politics. Now, few of the 29,000 wells drilled produce much gas and around 3,000 wells are abandoned and left to the state to clean up.
Business & Industry
Browse Articles about Business & Industry
|Deming, W. Edwards||Doug McInnis|
|Dude ranching, history of in Wyoming||John Clayton|
|Edison, Thomas in Wyoming Territory||Phil Roberts|
|Elk Basin Oil Field||Rebecca Hein|
|Encampment, Wyoming||Lori Van Pelt|
|Energy Transportation Systems, Inc. coal slurry pipeline||Dan Whipple|
|ETSI coal slurry pipeline||Dan Whipple|
|Farlow, Ed and Tim McCoy with Wind River Indians on stage and screen||Rebecca Hein|
|Ferries, North Platte River; Oregon Trail sites of||WyoHistory.org|
|Flaming Gorge Dam and Reservoir||Annette Hein|
Business & Industry
Oil refining in Wyoming began in 1895. By the 1920s the state boasted 16 refineries, with Standard Oil’s plant at Casper by far the largest. Production tracked oil booms and busts throughout the 20th century, culminating in the 1991 shutdown of Casper’s Amoco (formerly Standard) Refinery. Six refineries remain in production today.
Cheyenne’s M.H. “Bud” Robineau scrambled to put together the deals enabling construction during World War II of an airplane-fuel plant next to the Frontier Refinery he owned. Help from U.S. Sen. Joseph O’Mahoney proved crucial in cutting wartime red tape. The plant came online in 1944 and continued to produce high-octane fuel after the war.
From 1893-1913, the Tongue River Tie Flume carried 2 million railroad ties from the Bighorn Mountains to the Burlington Railroad. Ties moved at high speed down 38 miles of flumes across trestles and through tunnels in canyon walls. Workers’ camps were large mountain villages with schools and blacksmith shops.
If wells are the hearts, pipelines are the arteries of the oil business. Since the first line was laid 45 miles from the oil-field" class="alinks-link" title="Salt Creek">Salt Creek Field to Casper refineries in 1911, the pipeline business has grown steadily in Wyoming, transporting our hydrocarbons to local and world markets.
Natrona County’s oil-field" class="alinks-link" title="Salt Creek">Salt Creek Field is best known of Wyoming’s early oil fields, but five others—two in Park County and one each in Hot Springs, Niobrara and Converse counties—played important roles in the state’s 20th century transformation from an agricultural to an industrial economy.
Since it first entered the state in 1890, the Burlington Railroad has helped connect Wyoming with the world. Burlington officials were drawn here by Wyoming’s marketable natural resources and by its geography: Wyoming offered the best routes for transcontinental lines from the Midwest and South to the Pacific Northwest.
Wyoming’s sheep business never had the fame or cachet of Wyoming’s cattle business, but at the turn of the last century sheep raising was more widespread and probably more lucrative. Cattlemen, however, reacted violently to sheepmen’s entry onto the public range, and for a time deadly raids by cattlemen on flocks, sheepdogs and sheepherders were chronic. A gradual decline in wool and lamb prices since the 1920s has left only about a twentieth as many sheep on Wyoming ranges now as there were in 1909.