Rebecca A. Hunt, Ph.D.

In 2020, Dr. Rebecca A. Hunt retired from UC Denver where she taught Colorado, Denver and immigration history as well as public history and museum studies. She is now a full-time freelance historian and writer.

In 2011 she published Wyoming Medical Center, and Natrona County: People, Place and Time. Casper Chronicles II was a 2017 project. Casper Mountain Ski History: A Community of Skiers was published in 2022. Her documentaries include A Woman to Match a Mountain (2008) a documentary on Neal Forsling, a Caspeer, Wyo. homesteader, environmentalist, artist and writer. A ski-history documentary accompanies her latest book.

Current projects include Urban Pioneers: Continuity and Change in North Denver, and a digital history of Denver for Oxford University Press.

Skiing for fun began on Casper Mountain in the 1920s. People cut a few scattered slopes, added rope tows, started a ski patrol and held races. Hogadon Basin Ski Area was founded in the late 1950s. Today, Hogadon, 26 miles of Nordic trails and a world-class biathlon course lure skiers from everywhere.

Since prehistoric times, people’s lifestyles in what became Natrona County have depended on their livelihoods. Casper was founded in 1888, and county was formed in 1890, shortly before Wyoming became a state. First cattle, then sheep and after 1910, the oil and refining business dominated. An Army Air Corps training base near Casper brought another boost in World War II. Casper College was founded in 1945. Since then, the county has continued to ride the booms and busts of the energy business, but with cultural, health-care and education opportunities growing all the while.

Though the site was an important river crossing on the early frontier, the town of Casper did not begin until 1888, when the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Railroad reached the area. The town immediately became an important shipping point for cattle and wool. The first oil refinery was built in 1895 to process crude oil from the Salt Creek Oil Field, 40 miles to the north. The first true oil boom began after 1910 and lasted through the mid 1920s, and the town’s fortunes have been closely connected to the energy business ever since. In 2010 the city’s population passed 55,000. Casper continues as a retail, medical and energy-industry service hub.