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Cities, Towns & Counties

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.

Sheridan, Wyoming

Sheridan, Wyoming first boomed when the Burlington and Missouri Railroad reached it in 1892. Named for a Civil War general and situated in the center of Indian War country, the town became a regional center for business and western culture. Sheridan developed many local processing industries in its first few decades, and also attracted wealthy residents. However, its fortunes have fluctuated with the nation’s demand for nearby natural resources like coal, and the changing economics of agriculture. Today, Sheridan’s unique identity is still rooted in its distinctive culture and scenic location near the Bighorn Mountains.

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Encyclopedia | The Hotel Wolf in downtown Saratoga, Wyo. opened in 1894 as a hostelry and stage stop and continues to serve locals and travelers today.
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.
Encyclopedia | 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.
Encyclopedia | The Greybull Hotel, built in 1916, was the first and largest of its kind in downtown Greybull, Wyo., to be constructed with brick and concrete. Its main commercial space has served as a bank, a clothing store and a bar; during Prohibition there was a speakeasy in the basement. The hotel’s location--at the corner of Greybull Avenue and Sixth Street and at the intersection of Wyoming Highway 14 and Wyoming Highway 16/20—was of primary importance in the early days and remains so today.
Encyclopedia | 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.
Encyclopedia | Washakie County, formed in 1911 and named for the Shoshone Chief Washakie, continues to rely upon energy and agriculture as its main industries.
Encyclopedia | 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.
Encyclopedia | 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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