Shortly after Congress gave him the power to do so, President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 created the nation’s first national monument at Devils Tower. Wyoming’s lone congressman, Frank Mondell, fearing federal overreach and always in favor of developing, not protecting, public land was distinctly unenthusiastic about the move.
In October 1941, the Allies struggled in World War II while daredevil parachutist George Hopkins was stranded on Devils Tower in northeastern Wyoming, pulling public attention away from the war. Expert climbers guided Hopkins down after six days.
Devils Tower, a basalt column rising 1,267 feet above the nearby Belle Fourche River, was the nation’s first National Monument and remains important to tourists and the many tribes that hold it sacred.
What’s now Crook County, Wyo., was crossed by Custer in 1874 on his expedition to the Black Hills, the spark that led to the final struggles of the Indian wars on the northern plains. Ranchers a few years later brought in cattle and later, sheep, and the county was organized in 1885, with its county seat at Sundance. Harry Longabaugh, a.k.a. the Sundance Kid, spent 18 months in jail there. Coal deposits were exploited in the 1890s and shipped by rail to gold smelters in nearby Lead and Deadwood, So. Dak. Devils Tower National Monument, established in 1906 as the first national monument in the United States and still a sacred place for the Sioux, is located in Crook County. Agriculture, mining and timbering still play significant roles in its economy.