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Cities, Towns & Counties

South Pass Gold Rush

Discovery of gold near South Pass in the 1860s led to the creation and settlement of short-lived South Pass City, Wyo. and other settlements nearby. The Carissa Mine was one of the richest, but between 1867 and 1869, 1500 lodes were located during the rush, and as many as 2,000 miners and others may have lived in the little town or on their claims. By the early 1870s, only a few hundred were left. Sporadic gold production has continued since, however, with systematic prospecting by an American subsidiary of a Canadian firm permitted as recently as 2006.

Evanston, Wyoming

Chinese contract laborers were among the first residents of Evanston, Wyo., which was created as a service stop for locomotives between Green River, Wyo., and Ogden, Utah, on the Union Pacific Railroad’s transcontinental route. Later, travelers drove through town on the Lincoln Highway. The Wyoming State Hospital, known as the Wyoming Insane Asylum in territorial days, is located here. Like many of the state’s towns, Evanston’s rich oil resources contribute to its continuing “boom and bust” cycles, and tourism plays a prominent role in the town’s economy.

Pinedale, Wyoming

Pinedale, Wyo. was founded in 1904, incorporated in 1912 and became seat of brand-new Sublette County in western Wyoming in 1921, when the town still boasted only about 100 people. Despite its isolation, the town survived well through the 20th century on ranching and tourism. It began to change more quickly in the early 1990s, as development sped up in the nearby Pinedale Anticline and Jonah natural gas fields. Today, with more than 2,000 people, the town works hard to keep its traditions while dealing with steady, industrial growth.

Johnson County, Wyoming

The history of Johnson County, Wyo., features a number of violent conflicts that influenced the heritage of the West. The Fetterman and Wagon Box fights were important conflicts in the Indian wars of the 1860s, while the infamous 1892 Johnson County War erupted because of tensions among cattle barons, homesteaders and rustlers. Johnson County’s economy today continues to thrive on tourism, ranching and oil and gas.

Carbon, Wyoming

Founded in 1868, the short-lived town of Carbon provided crucial coal supplies for the Union Pacific Railroad. Its rough reputation was boosted in 1881, when a mob of miners pulled Dutch Charley Burris, accused of the murder of a popular lawman, from a train and hanged him from a telegraph pole. Many Finnish men worked in the coal mines until 1902, when the mines closed. Today, there are only a few ruins to mark the site, but the Carbon Cemetery has been recently refurbished and is still being used.

Uinta County, Wyoming

Uinta County, one of the five counties of Wyoming Territory, was reduced to its present size in 1911. The Oregon, California, Mormon and Overland trails all passed through the county as well as the Union Pacific Railroad, the Lincoln Highway and Interstate 80. While the county is rich in natural resources like coal and oil and endures economic booms and busts as a result, agriculture continues to be a mainstay. Rancher John Myers established the first ranch on the Bear River drainage in 1858 and filed the first water right in what later became Wyoming Territory.

Big Piney and Marbleton, Wyoming

White settlement in Sublette County, Wyo. traces its roots to the late 1870s, when cattlemen brought herds to the pastures where North, Middle and Piney Creeks join the Green River. The town of Big Piney was incorporated there in 1913. The next year, neighboring Marbleton was incorporated a mile away, on higher ground on the bench above Piney Creek. Every effort to combine the two towns has failed, and they continue to maintain separate governments though they share most other services. The energy industry is now the major employer in both communities. Big Piney registered a population of 552 in the 2010 census, and Marbleton, 1,094.

Newcastle, Wyoming

Newcastle, Wyo., on the edge of the Black Hills, was founded in 1889 when the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad arrived in northeastern Wyoming. Newcastle sprang up where a spur left the main line of the Burlington to head seven miles northwest to the coal mines at Cambria. The Burlington –now, after its merger with the Santa Fe Railroad, the BNSF—is still a major employer, along with a local oil refinery, hospital and school district, and businesses that serve tourists.

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Encyclopedia | 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.
Encyclopedia | One of Wyoming’s early large-scale irrigation projects dates to the 1880s in what’s now Platte County, Wyoming and the county, organized in early 1913, still is perhaps best known for its reservoirs and recreation areas. The Oregon Trail ruts and Register Cliff near Guernsey serve as reminders of the pioneer heritage of the area and a coal-fired power plant near Wheatland provides jobs and economic stability.
Encyclopedia | 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. 
Encyclopedia | The scenic Bighorn Basin and world-class fishing opportunities on the Bighorn River have made Big Horn County, Wyo., a tourist destination, but the area is also rich in oil and natural gas—and history. People have lived in the area since ancient times, as evidenced by the Medicine Wheel near the county’s northern corer. Ranch families still raise cattle and sheep, and farm families still raise sugar beets as they have for more than a century.
Encyclopedia | Coal, railroads and oil have helped make Campbell County, Wyo., the second wealthiest county in the state, and the county’s coal mines are the largest in the world. Though coal production has begun to fall slightly in recent years, mining continues to be the main engine of the Campbell County economy. The county’s history is rich in Paleo-Indian and bison-bone discoveries as well.
Encyclopedia | 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.
Encyclopedia | Sweetwater County’s history is as rich and diverse as its mineral wealth and population. The area became a transportation pathway, with the early pioneer trails and the transcontinental railroad and today’s Interstate 80 serving as important trade and travel routes. Mining of coal and trona and the production of oil and natural gas have been and continue to be significant industries, contributing to the county’s economic wealth and to Sweetwater County’s position as one of the top three revenue producing counties in Wyoming.
Encyclopedia | Discovery of gold near South Pass in the 1860s led to the creation and settlement of short-lived South Pass City, Wyo. and other settlements nearby. The Carissa Mine was one of the richest, but between 1867 and 1869, 1500 lodes were located during the rush, and as many as 2,000 miners and others may have lived in the little town or on their claims. By the early 1870s, only a few hundred were left. Sporadic gold production has continued since, however, with systematic prospecting by an American subsidiary of a Canadian firm permitted as recently as 2006.

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