Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin was still largely unsettled in 1900 when irrigation-minded Mormon colonizers from Utah established the towns of Byron and Cowley, expanded Lovell and began digging the Sidon Canal on the Shoshone River. Their influence settled and stabilized a previously lawless part of the state.
Cities, Towns & Counties
Browse Articles about Cities, Towns & Counties
|Cheyenne, Wyo., history of||Lori Van Pelt|
|Churches, African-American in Rock Springs||Brie Blasi|
|Coal Camps in Sheridan County||Kevin Knapp|
|Cody, William F. as Wyoming Town Founder and Irrigation Tycoon||Robert E. Bonner|
|Cody, Wyoming||Lynn Johnson Houze|
|Converse County, Wyoming||Doug McInnis|
|Crook County, Wyoming||Nicole Lebsack|
|Durlacher House||Stephanie Lowe|
|Elk Mountain Hotel||Lori Van Pelt|
|Empire, Wyoming, African-American community of||Robert Galbreath|
Cities, Towns & Counties
Rock Springs, Wyo. traces its origins to a coal mine established there in 1868 to serve the still-building Union Pacific Railroad. Ever since, the town has been enriched by the people who came from around the world to live and work there—in coal mines, on the railroad and, in recent decades, in trona mines to the west and the oil and natural-gas fields to the north. Rock Springs boasted 56 nationalities by the 1920s. Its political and economic fortunes have closely followed all these industries’ cycles of boom and bust.
Created in 1911 and named for President Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln County is perhaps best known for its extraordinary geological history, showcased at Fossil Butte National Monument. The county seat, Kemmerer, Wyo., is the site of the first store opened by James Cash Penney, founder of J. C. Penney & Co., a business that still operates nationally today. Agriculture, mining and oil and gas industries continue to spur the county’s economy.
The railroad hailed once as the “only line to the great Wyoming copper mining district” in the upper North Platte Valley failed to arrive in time for the copper boom—but still carried passengers and cattle for decades, and lumber for nearly a century.
After the Burlington Railroad reached Sheridan, Wyo. in 1892, coal camps—company towns for miners and their families—were established next to a series of mines north of the town. The mines served local and regional markets as well as the railroad. By 1910, a total of around 10,000 people lived in these camps—Dietz, Kooi, Monarch, Acme and Carneyville, later renamed Kleenburn—more than lived in Sheridan. A busy electric railway ran the 15 miles from town to the camps and back. Most of the miners were immigrants, more than half of them Polish, and their descendants still play vital roles in Sheridan County today.
Fremont County, created in 1884 and named for famed explorer John C. Frémont, is still as diverse both economic factors and population as it was in the early days. Members of the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes continue to live and work on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Former reservation land north of Wind River was first opened to homesteaders in 1906. Ranching and irrigated farming have provided steadying influences over the decades to a local economy tied closely to booms and busts in gold, coal, uranium, iron-ore, oil and gas production.
As its name suggests, Hot Springs County, Wyo., draws many visitors to the world-famous thermal mineral waters located in Thermopolis, the county seat. But the area also provides stunning scenic views for those who travel through the Wind River Canyon and gives fascinating glimpses into prehistoric times at the Legend Rock petroglyphs and the Wyoming Dinosaur Center.
Saratoga, famed for its hot springs, has often been called the place “where the trout leap in Main Street.” Treasured by fishermen, hunters and outdoor lovers, the town continues to thrive on the tourist trade. A sawmill, mainstay of the local economy from 1934 to 1983, recently re-opened.
Teton County, Wyo., is well-known for its spectacular mountain scenery and for its opportunities to climb, hike, bike, fish, hunt and ski. In the early days, though, travel was much more difficult and few people lived in the area. Grand Teton National Park and part of Yellowstone, the first national park, are located within the boundaries of Teton County. The parks draw millions of visitors each year.