Two highly educated families of African-American farmers founded Empire, Wyo., near the Nebraska line northeast of Torrington in 1908. At one time it boasted school, church and post office. But drought, low crop prices and, evidence shows, the racial prejudices of their neighbors drove the people away; all were gone by 1930.
On Wyoming’s border with Nebraska, Goshen County and its economy have long been stabilized by farming and ranching. Today, sugar beets and cattle are the main products. The area is traversed by the Oregon Trail and the North Platte River, is the home of Fort Laramie, and was well known to Euro-Americans by the 1830s. The Burlington Railroad arrived in 1900 and a Union Pacific line in the early 1920s, both providing impetus to the birth of many small towns, a few of which survive and thrive. Goshen County now supports a population of about 13,500.
Perhaps best-known now for the annual Cheyenne Frontier Days celebration, Laramie County, the seat of Wyoming’s government, continues to be an important transportation crossroads. Cheyenne’s Francis E. Warren Air Force Base traces its roots to a 19th century military outpost and still plays a significant role in the county’s economy.