Called Camp le Grand by trappers and fur traders who held rendezvous in the 1830s, the scenic place at the base of the Sierra Madre Mountains eventually became known as Encampment. Rich copper deposits brought miners, promoters and others who hoped the town would become a western industrial stronghold. That didn’t happen, but today, visitors and locals gather here for numerous festivals held throughout the year that celebrate the town’s heritage.
Cities, Towns & Counties
Browse Articles about Cities, Towns & Counties
|Jackson Hole Guide||Kerry Drake|
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|Laramie County, Wyoming||Marguerite Herman|
Cities, Towns & Counties
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Park County, Wyo., was officially formed in 1909, but settlers began arriving in the area much earlier and creating several communities that are well-known today. Cody, the county seat, was named for Col. William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody of Wild West fame, who promoted nearby Yellowstone National Park—founded in 1872—as a “Wonderland.” The Pitchfork Ranch near Meeteetse, one of the oldest ranches in the region, was founded in 1879. Dude ranching began in the early 1900s, early oil discoveries came soon afterward, and tourism and oil and gas continue as mainstays today. In the mid-1940s, the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp, where many Japanese-American families were interned during World War II, was located between Cody and Powell.
The Durlacher House in Laramie, Wyo. was built in 1878 for Civil War veteran Simon Durlacher. Durlacher arrived in town a decade earlier and just one month before the Union Pacific Railroad tracks reached Laramie. The house, designed by architect Charles Klingerman in late-Victorian Queen Anne style, was also used as a church and now is used by a private business. The Durlacher House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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.