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Business & Industry

Wyoming's First Coal Bust

Wyoming’s coal mining industry was secure until the early 1950s, when the Union Pacific switched to diesel-powered locomotives. Laid-off miners and their families struggled; little company towns disappeared. Eventually, trona mining expanded and replaced many of the coal jobs—and in the 1970s, coal came roaring back.

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Encyclopedia | Stephen Leek’s efforts to save the starving elk of Jackson Hole came at a time when survival of the species was very much in doubt. The founding of the National Elk Refuge in 1912 was one result—a huge achievement. But feeding wildlife in herds leads to disease, we now know. And Leek himself was a decidedly complicated man.
Encyclopedia | Rock Springs was bursting in 1977 when “60 Minutes” came to town to cover sleaze and alleged corruption. Soon after, top cop Ed Cantrell shot his undercover agent, Mike Rosa, in a police cruiser in front of the Silver Dollar Bar. The crime, the trial and its drama fixed boomtime Wyoming in the national imagination as a new kind of wild West.
Encyclopedia | When present Wyoming was still part of Dakota Territory, hunters already were killing elk, deer and antelope by the thousands, often to sell the meat and hides. Tentatively at first and then more strongly, Wyoming territorial and state legislatures began passing game laws—and providing for their enforcement.
Encyclopedia | Wyoming’s coal mining industry was secure until the early 1950s, when the Union Pacific switched to diesel-powered locomotives. Laid-off miners and their families struggled; little company towns disappeared. Eventually, trona mining expanded and replaced many of the coal jobs—and in the 1970s, coal came roaring back.
Encyclopedia | From April to November 1868, two ex-Confederate brothers, Legh and Fred Freeman, published the strident, anti-Reconstruction Frontier Index, moving their offices ahead of the still-building Union Pacific Railroad. Rioters finally destroyed the newspaper’s office and presses in Bear River City, putting the paper out of business.
Encyclopedia | When German-born August and Charles Trabing came to Laramie in 1868, they began selling goods and hauling supplies to settlers, mining camps and especially Army forts around Wyoming Territory. Their operations expanded for 15 years, with annual revenues sometimes topping $1 million in today’s dollars.
Encyclopedia | Nearly 1,100 Wyoming servicemen, representing every county, died in World War II. As in other states, Wyoming’s people gained a stronger sense of being part of the nation thanks in part to war bond drives, scrap metal drives, book drives, victory gardens—and their loved ones’ service at home and overseas.
Encyclopedia | Coal production at the Union Pacific mines at Reliance, Wyo., north of Rock Springs peaked at 1.4 million tons per year in the early 1940s. The mines are closed now but a vast steel-and-concrete tipple remains. Visitors are welcome, with a caveat: Stay out of the interior.

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