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Historic Spots & Monuments

Como Bluff

Como Bluff in Carbon County and Albany County, Wyo., is the location of one of the world’s richest quarries of Jurassic dinosaur bones. Paleontologists found excellent dinosaur fossils in greater quantity here in the late 19th century than had ever been known before. These included Allosaurus, Diplodocus and Apatosaurus. Many of these specimens are still on display at the Peabody Museum at Yale University, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The site is seldom quarried today, as most of the bones have been removed. Como Bluff is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Crow Creek Ranch

The Crow Creek or Cole Ranch northwest of Cheyenne, Wyo. was founded in 1879 and operated until 1972, when the land was subdivided. The ranch headquarters is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On the ranch, cattle grazed native grasses during the warmer months and alfalfa hay in the winter; later, the Coles added dairy cattle. Historic structures include the ranch house, barn, bunkhouse and corrals.

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.

Trails across Wyoming: The Oregon, Mormon Pioneer and California Routes

As many as half a million people crossed what’s now Wyoming in the mid-19th century before the transcontinental railroad was built. Their trails followed the North Platte and Sweetwater rivers west to South Pass, after which they divided into various routes bound for Oregon, Utah or California. They were making the journey of a lifetime, on routes blazed by Indians and trappers, and then worn deep and wide by thousands of wagons and perhaps millions of draft animals. These trails remain largely unchanged in Wyoming. Their white-topped wagons still hold an important place in the national imagination.

Fort Caspar

The U.S. Army established Platte Bridge Station in 1862 to protect the Oregon/California/Mormon Trail crossing of the North Platte River and the new transcontinental telegraph. After Lt. Caspar Collins was killed there by Cheyenne and Lakota Indians in 1865, the post was renamed Fort Casper, misspelling his first name. The fort was abandoned two years later, but reconstructed in 1936—and renamed Fort Caspar—with funds from the Works Progress Administration. Fort grounds and a museum are open to the public.

Fort Bridger

Established by mountain men Jim Bridger and Louis Vasquez in 1843, Fort Bridger was an important rest and re-supply spot for emigrants bound to Utah, California and Oregon. Mormons acquired the site in the mid-1850s, and burned it in 1857 as the U.S. Army approached during the bloodless Utah War. The following year the Army took over, and garrisoned the fort until 1890. Today it is a state historic site.

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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.
Encyclopedia | When completed in June 1909 on the North Platte River, 47 miles southwest of Casper, the granite Pathfinder Dam was a triumph of early 20th century design. It was one of the earliest federal Reclamation Service dams in the West, and convinced agency officials of their ability “to do great things.”
Encyclopedia | Created in 1911 and named for President Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln County is perhaps best known for its extraordinary geological history, showcased at Fossil Butte National Monument. The county seat, Kemmerer, Wyo., is the site of the first store opened by James Cash Penney, founder of J. C. Penney & Co., a business that still operates nationally today. Agriculture, mining and oil and gas industries continue to spur the county’s economy.
Encyclopedia | The Crow Creek or Cole Ranch northwest of Cheyenne, Wyo. was founded in 1879 and operated until 1972, when the land was subdivided. The ranch headquarters is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On the ranch, cattle grazed native grasses during the warmer months and alfalfa hay in the winter; later, the Coles added dairy cattle. Historic structures include the ranch house, barn, bunkhouse and corrals.
Encyclopedia | As the beaver trade waned in the 1830s, so did economic reasons for an American toehold in the Oregon country, still under joint British-American occupancy. Religion shifted the balance of power, however, when American Protestant missionaries crossed the Rocky Mountains with an eye toward converting the tribes of the Northwest. Soon these men brought their wives with them as well. In 1836, Narcissa Whitman and Eliza Spalding were the first Euro-American women to cross South Pass, and these people became the vanguard of American settlement of Oregon.
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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