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Historic Spots & Monuments

The Astorians Discover South Pass

Robert Stuart and partners and employees of the fur magnate John Jacob Astor, traveling east in 1812 from the Oregon coast to St. Louis, crossed “a handsome low gap” in the Rocky Mountains in October of that year, after receiving a tip months before about its existence from a Shoshone guide. This marked the discovery by European Americans of South Pass, destined in coming decades to become the main route of American expansion to the West.

Elk Mountain Hotel and Garden Spot Pavilion

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.

The World’s Oldest Building: The Fossil Cabin at Como Bluff

When Thomas Boylan started collecting dinosaur bones on his homestead in 1915, he first envisioned completing a dinosaur skeleton and using it to attract customers to his gas station on U. S. Highway 30 near Como Bluff. However, he was told that he didn’t have enough bones for that. Instead, he used more than 5,700 bones to build a structure that has become known worldwide as the Fossil Cabin. The historic Fossil Cabin was built in 1932 and stands about five miles east of Medicine Bow, Carbon County, Wyo. The cabin has been featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

T Cross Ranch

The T Cross Ranch north of Dubois, Wyo., on Horse Creek in the Absaroka Mountains was first homesteaded around 1900 by Ernest O. Hadden. In 1919, Henry Seipt acquired the property, named it “The Hermitage” and operated a dude ranch here. Robert Cox became the owner in 1929 and changed the name to “T Cross Ranch,” but continued the dude ranch. The ranch is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is still operated as a dude ranch.

Huxtable Ranch

In 1929, Lloyd Huxtable, together with his wife’s brother, Charlie Olin, purchased the property south of Glenrock, Wyo. known as the Huxtable Ranch as well as the original 1887 water rights. Huxtable had worked for the second owner, Willard Heber White, who bought the ranch from its original owner, Charles Smith, in 1896. The ranch, was expanded to 1,500 acres under Huxtable’s ownership. Huxtable did not believe in acquiring unnecessary debt, and this thriftiness enabled him to own the ranch free and clear by the 1950s. He died in 1976. The Huxtable family sold the ranch in 1992, and it continues to be privately owned. The ranch is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Toomey’s Mills

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.

Greybull Hotel

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.

Hotel LaBonte

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.

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.

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Encyclopedia | Wyoming gets its name from a green valley in northeast Pennsylvania originally purchased from the Iroquois by a Connecticut land company. An Ohio congressman in 1865 first proposed the name—but later, after he saw our dry, wide plains, he wasn’t so sure he’d had the right idea.
Encyclopedia | On Aug. 29, 1865, troops under Brig. Gen. Patrick E. Connor attacked an Arapaho village near present Ranchester, Wyo. Connor’s detachment was part of a large expedition ordered to subjugate the warring Cheyenne, Sioux and Arapaho in the Powder River Basin. Overall success was mixed. Connor was relieved of his command.
Encyclopedia | Trail End, the mansion home of cattleman, banker and politician John B. Kendrick, was completed on a hilltop overlooking Sheridan, Wyo. in 1913, 16 months before Kendrick was elected governor. Kendrick later served three terms in the U.S. Senate and died in 1933. The Kendrick family continued to use the house until 1961. In 1968, the Sheridan County Historical Society bought the building, and in 1982 transferred ownership to the state, which operates the 14,000-square-foot mansion now as a state historic site.
Encyclopedia | On Aug. 2, 1867, a large force of Oglala Sioux attacked woodcutters near Fort Phil Kearny. Soldiers assigned to protect the woodcutters took cover behind a ring of wagon boxes. After the intense battle, both sides claimed victory, and estimates of the dead and wounded varied widely.
Encyclopedia | Originally established as the Wyoming Insane Asylum by the Wyoming Territorial Legislature in 1886, the Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston opened in 1889 and operates today on the same site. The institution evolved and the campus was built according to trends in psychiatric thought and therapeutic practices. Notable among its superintendents was Dr. C.H. Solier, who ran the hospital from 1891 to 1930, and successfully deflected allegations of patient abuse in the 1920s.
Encyclopedia | Two battles on July 26, 1865 near Platte Bridge Station near present-day Casper, Wyo., are best understood in the context of tribal response to the Sand Creek Massacre the previous November. Twenty-eight U.S. troops were killed that day including Lt. Caspar Collins, for whom Fort Caspar and the town of Casper were later named.
Encyclopedia | The Casper Army Air Base was built quickly in 1942 to train bomber crews for World War II combat. The facility trained more than 16,000 men before the end of the war. Its population grew to a third of the size of Casper’s, bringing prosperity and a lively social life to the town. The base closed in 1945, when the war ended.
Encyclopedia | Alcova Dam, a Bureau of Reclamation project, was completed in 1937. The reservoir opened in 1938 and a power plant was completed in 1955. The $20 million dam project didn’t achieve the high expectations of immense wealth that were forecast at the time of its inception, but continues to provide irrigation water for farmers and ranchers and generates hydropower for the area. Alcova Reservoir offers fishing, boating, camping and swimming opportunities for visitors.

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