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.
Browse Articles about Agriculture
|Glendo Dam, History of||The National Park Service|
|Grazing leases, federal||Russel L. Tanner|
|Huntley, Wyoming; Jewish Farm Families of||Carl V. Hallberg|
|Huxtable Ranch||Stephanie Lowe|
|Jewish Farm Families of Huntley, Wyoming||Carl V. Hallberg|
|Kortes Dam, History of||Annette Hein|
|Laramie, Wyo., history of||Kim Viner|
|Mead, Elwood and Wyoming's water law||Anne MacKinnon|
|Mercado, Felix on sugar-beet farming in the Big Horn Basin||Washakie Museum and Cultural Center|
|Mercer, Asa Shinn, life and newspaper career of||Rebecca Hein|
Seminoe and Kortes dams, both located in a remote stretch of northern Carbon County, Wyo., were constructed in the 1930s and 1940s primarily for the production of hydropower. While power plants at both dams still generate electricity, the area is frequented by tourists, especially fishermen who travel to the renowned Miracle Mile, just downstream from Kortes Dam, to catch trout.
In Wyoming, dry farming—growing crops without irrigation--began to become popular in the early 1900s. Vernon T. Cooke, first state director of dry farming, was extremely influential in promoting the method. Today, the University of Wyoming’s experimental agricultural station continues to develop dry farming techniques.
Anchor Dam was built in the 1950s on upper Owl Creek in Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin. The bedrock under the reservoir site is porous, and the reservoir has never held much water. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation more than doubled its initial costs with subsequent mitigation efforts, which proved unsuccessful. The dam stands today high above a small pool of water.
Construction of Buffalo Bill Dam, completed in 1910 six miles west of Cody, Wyoming, was the key that opened about 90,000 acres in northwestern Wyoming to irrigated farming. Its construction was slowed by engineering difficulties and labor strife, but when it was finished stood as an engineering marvel, one of the first concrete arch dams built in the United States and the tallest dam in the world at the time.
Before Glendo Dam could be built on the North Platte River in Platte County, Wyoming, complicated water-rights disputes had to be settled among Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado and the settlement approved by the U.S. Supreme Court. The process took more than a decade, and shows the difficulties of allocating water in the arid West. The earthfill dam, nearly 2,100 feet long and 190 feet high, was completed in the fall of 1957. It stores water for irrigation and recreation, controls floods, reduces sedimentation in the Guernsey reservoir downstream and produces hydropower.
Boysen Dam, named for local businessman Asmus Boysen, was constructed on the Wind River in the 1940s to control flooding and to provide irrigation water for agricultural purposes. The dam was completed in early 1953 and its power plant continues to generate electricity today. Boysen Reservoir provides recreational opportunities as well.
Alcova Dam, a Bureau of Reclamation project, was completed in 1937. The reservoir opened in 1938 and a power plant was completed in 1955. The $20 million dam project didn’t achieve the high expectations of immense wealth that were forecast at the time of its inception, but continues to provide irrigation water for farmers and ranchers and generates hydropower for the area. Alcova Reservoir offers fishing, boating, camping and swimming opportunities for visitors.
In 1908, Albert P. “Prof” Sommers established his ranch headquarters on property southwest of Pinedale, Wyo. Three generations of his family have lived and ranched here. When Prof died in 1928, his widow, May, continued to own and operate the ranch. She also served as Sublette County superintendent of schools. She sold the ranch to her son, Albert, in 1947. The property is currently owned by Albert Sommers, Jr. and his sister, Jonita. The ranch is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.