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.
Cities, Towns & Counties
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Cities, Towns & Counties
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, 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.
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.
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, 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.
The final Wyoming Territorial Legislative Assembly created Weston County in March 1890. Thirty years later, the discovery of oil at Osage, Wyo., halfway between the county seat of Newcastle and the small town of Upton, led to a number of cyclical economic booms and busts. Today, the county’s industries include agriculture and oil refining.
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, 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.