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Cities, Towns & Counties

Hyart Theatre

The Hyart Theatre in Lovell, Wyo., opened in 1951. The owner, Hyrum “Hy” Bischoff, used creative designs that were in fashion at the time. He included a curved screen for CinemaScope movies and stereophonic sound in the theater, which contained 1,001 upholstered seats. The Hyart also has a unique façade. The Bischoff family owned and operated the theater until the early 1990s, when it was closed. Through the efforts of a local nonprofit group, the Hyart was reopened Nov. 13, 2004, and continues to delight moviegoers and serve as a place for local entertainers to stage performances.

Sublette County, Wyoming

Euro-Americans first described what’s now Sublette County in western Wyoming early in the 1800s, when it was a hub for the Rocky Mountain fur trade. Cattle ranchers followed the fur trappers. Soon, tie hacks arrived to cut timber for railroad ties. The county’s first successful oil well was drilled in 1907, and oil and gas have been important to the county ever since. In the early 1990s one of the world’s largest gas fields was discovered south of Pinedale, the county seat. County residents continue to work to balance energy booms with the conservation measures needed to keep life good and to keep tourists coming back.

South Pass City

South Pass City, a gold mining town founded near South Pass in 1867, reached its pinnacle soon after a valuable strike was made in 1868 at the Carissa Mine. The town is also famous as the birthplace of women’s suffrage, because the 1869 bill making Wyoming Territory the first government in the world to guarantee women the right to vote was introduced by South Pass City’s representative, William H. Bright. Esther Hobart Morris, appointed South Pass City justice of the peace soon afterward, became the first woman in the nation to hold public office. The town, with many original buildings carefully restored, is operated as a state historic site.

Powell, Wyoming

Tracing its roots to a work camp for men digging irrigation ditches early in the 20th century, Powell, Wyoming, in northern Park County, remains an agricultural hub. Its economy has been boosted over the last century, however, by nearby coal mines and oil wells, and by public schools, a hospital and a community college, the last three of which are now the town’s largest employers. In 1994, Powell was one of 10 municipalities named an All-America City by the National Civic League.

Carbon County, Wyoming

Beautiful Carbon County in south-central Wyoming was established in 1868 and named for its coal. Since fur-trade days, through coal, copper, cattle, sheep, uranium, coal again, natural gas and wind power, booms, busts, and new booms have dominated the economy. The Union Pacific Railroad has by contrast offered a steadying influence, as has the state prison in Rawlins, the county seat. And the North Platte River, locals say, offers the best trout fishing in the world.

Casper, Wyoming

Though the site was an important river crossing on the early frontier, the town of Casper did not begin until 1888, when the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Railroad reached the area. The town immediately became an important shipping point for cattle and wool. The first oil refinery was built in 1895 to process crude oil from the Salt Creek Oil Field, 40 miles to the north. The first true oil boom began after 1910 and lasted through the mid 1920s, and the town’s fortunes have been closely connected to the energy business ever since. In 2010 the city’s population passed 55,000. Casper continues as a retail, medical and energy-industry service hub.

Piedmont Charcoal Kilns

The Piedmont Charcoal Kilns southwest of Evanston, Wyo. were built in 1869 to supply charcoal primarily to Utah mining and smelting operations. The town of Piedmont’s location—on the Union Pacific Railroad but near a ready timber supply in the Uinta Mountains—made it a logical spot for the industry. Most of the charcoal was shipped to the Salt Lake valley, and some to Fort Bridger for use in blacksmith forges and heating stoves. Piedmont was a railroad station on the Union Pacific line. Three of the original five kilns remain standing. The site is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Natrona County, Wyoming

Since prehistoric times, people’s lifestyles in what became Natrona County have depended on their livelihoods. Casper was founded in 1888, and county was formed in 1890, shortly before Wyoming became a state. First cattle, then sheep and after 1910, the oil and refining business dominated. An Army Air Corps training base near Casper brought another boost in World War II. Casper College was founded in 1945. Since then, the county has continued to ride the booms and busts of the energy business, but with cultural, health-care and education opportunities growing all the while.

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Encyclopedia | Casper’s Odd Fellows Building, constructed in 1952, reflects the modern-style architecture that was popular during the postwar era and serves as a reminder of the community development, planning and the social history of the time. This structure is named on the National Register of Historic Places.
Encyclopedia | 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.
Encyclopedia | The Historic Elk Mountain Hotel, built in 1905 by John Evans, is located beside the Medicine Bow River, a place where Overland Trail travelers made crossings during their journeys west. In the 1940s and 1950s, the hotel’s Garden Spot Pavilion became well-known for its springy dance floor and for the many big-name musicians like Hank Thompson and Louis Armstrong who played there. The hotel underwent extensive renovation in the early years of this century, and the pavilion was demolished. Guests today enjoy modern conveniences, private baths and a dining room.
Encyclopedia | 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.
Encyclopedia | Toomey’s Mills in Newcastle, Wyo., began operations as Newcastle Milling Company and Electrical Light Plant in 1905, producing flour by day and generating electricity at night. In 1919, D. J. Toomey purchased the business and it remained in the family until 1965. In 1974, new owners converted it into a restaurant, the Old Mill Inn. In 1995, current owners, Doug and Larita Brown bought the property, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, in 1995.
Encyclopedia | 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.
Encyclopedia | The Hotel LaBonte opened in January 1914 in downtown Douglas, Wyo. Its purpose was to serve area ranchers, participants in county courthouse sessions and travelers on the Yellowstone Highway, and the hotel was created in the finest and most luxurious style of the day. The rooms had electric lights, steam heat and hot and cold running water. The structure was named for the LaBonte Pony Express and stage station on the Oregon Trail.
Encyclopedia | What’s now Crook County, Wyo., was crossed by Custer in 1874 on his expedition to the Black Hills, the spark that led to the final struggles of the Indian wars on the northern plains. Ranchers a few years later brought in cattle and later, sheep, and the county was organized in 1885, with its county seat at Sundance. Harry Longabaugh, a.k.a. the Sundance Kid, spent 18 months in jail there. Coal deposits were exploited in the 1890s and shipped by rail to gold smelters in nearby Lead and Deadwood, So. Dak. Devils Tower National Monument, established in 1906 as the first national monument in the United States and still a sacred place for the Sioux, is located in Crook County. Agriculture, mining and timbering still play significant roles in its economy.

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