THE COUNTIES OF WYOMING
|The Twenty-One Counties—Albany—Bighorn—Campbell—Carbon—Converse—Crook—Fremont—Goshen—Hot Springs—Johnson—Laramie—Lincoln—Natrona—Nobara—Park—Platte—Sheridan—Sweetwater—Uinta—Washakie—Weston—Historical Sketch of Each—Date of Organization—Boundaries—Early Settlers—Topography—Resources—Transportation Facilities—Population and Wealth, etc. ... 503|
|Wyoming Territory was created by the act of Congress, approved on July 25, 1868, and the Territorial Government was organized the following April. There were then two counties–Carter and Laramie–which had been established by the Dakota Territorial Legislature, and which embraced practically all of the present State of Wyoming east of the 110th meridian of longitude. Charles D. Bradley, representative from Laramie County in the Dakota Legislature in 1868, procured the passage of bills creating the counties of Albany and Carbon, but before these counties could be organized the Territory of Wyoming came into existence. The first Territorial Legislature of Wyoming erected five counties–Laramie, Albany, Carbon, Sweetwater and Uinta–each of which extended from the northern to the southern boundary of the territory. By subsequent acts of the Legislature, these five counties have each been divided and new ones formed, until now (1918) there are twenty-one counties in the state, viz.: Albany, Bighorn, Campbell, Carbon, Converse, Crook, Fremont, Goshen, Hot Springs, Johnson, Laramie, Lincoln, Natrona, Niobrara, Park, Platte, Sheridan, Sweetwater, Uinta, Washakie and Weston.|
| The Albany County created by the first Territorial Legislature of Wyoming was quite a different county from the one bearing that name at the present time. Section 1 of the original organic act provided:|
"That all that portion of Wyoming Territory embraced within the following described boundaries shall be known as Albany County: Commencing at Bufort (Buford) Station on the Union Pacific Railroad; thence due north to the forty-fifth parallel of north latitude; thence west along said parallel to the eastern line of Carbon County; thence south along said eastern boundary line of Carbon County to the forty-first parallel of north latitude; thence east along said forty-first parallel of north latitude to a point due south of Bufort Station, and thence north to the place of beginning."
The county as thus established included all of the present County of Albany, the greater part of the counties of Converse and Campbell, the east end of Sheridan and a strip about twelve miles wide across the eastern part of Carbon, Natrona and Johnson. The act of 1869 also appointed the following officers for the county, to serve until the next general election: H. Wagner, Joseph Mackle and S. C. Leach, county commissioners; J. W. Conner, sheriff; L. D. Pease, probate judge; R. S. Kinney, county clerk; Charles Hilliker, assessor; S. W. Downey, prosecuting attorney; James Vine, county surveyor; Dr. Foose, coroner; George Van Dyke, justice of the peace; John Barton, D. Shanks, William Carr and George Young, constables. The county commissioners were given power to fill vacancies in the various county offices, the appointments not to extend beyond the next general election.
The county seat was located at Laramie City, "until removed therefrom by law," and it was further provided that the act should take effect on the second Monday in December, 1869.
Changes in the boundaries and dimensions of Albany County, through the formation of new counties, have reduced its original size from 14,904 square miles to 4,401 square miles. It is now bounded on the north by Converse County; on the east by Platte and Laramie; on the south by the State of Colorado, and on the west by the County of Carbon. Near the eastern border, extending the full length of the county, are the Laramie Mountains, and in the southwest corner is the Medicine Bow Range. Between these mountains is the upper valley of the Laramie River, which furnishes some of the finest grazing lands in the southern part of the state. The county is rich in mineral deposits, Iron Mountain, so named because of the richness of its ores, when first developed yielded 85 per cent pure metal. Rich copper, silver, lead and gold mines have been opened in various parts of the county. These mines are described in the chapter on Wyoming's mineral resources. A few miles south of Laramie are the famous soda lakes containing millions of tons of pure sulphate of soda. Oil has been found at Rock River, Big Hollow and along the Laramie River.
One of the early settlers of the county was Nathaniel K. Boswell, who came to Wyoming in 1868 and settled at Laramie soon after the Union Pacific Railroad was completed through Albany County. Mr. Boswell was a native of New Hampshire and took an active part in the development of the resources of the county. In 1883 he established the soda works near the deposits that he had discovered some years earlier. These works were afterward sold to the Union Pacific Railroad Company. Mr. Boswell was sheriff of the county for nine years and was then appointed deputy United States marshal. He was active in breaking up the gang of road agents that operated in Wyoming in the latter '70s, robbing stage coaches and express trains, and in 1883 he was elected chief of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association to organize a force of men and watch the branding of animals, etc.
Robert Marsh, an Englishman, came to Albany County in 1868 and was for seven years mayor of the City of Laramie. He also served as county commissioner and as a member of the school board. Thomas Alsop, another Englishman, settled in Albany County in 1868. That fall he discovered the coal banks at Carbon and during the winter took out over one hundred thousand dollars worth of coal. In 1875 he was elected one of the county commissioners.
Mortimer N. Grant, a native of Lexington, Mo., came to Wyoming with a surveying party in 1869 and located in this county. He afterward served as auditor of the Territory of Wyoming. Robert E. Fitch came to this county from New York at an early date in the county's history. He served as superintendent of schools and was a member of the Senate in the first State Legislature. Ora Haley was born in the State of Maine and settled in Albany County in 1868. He was elected to the Lower House of the Territorial Legislature in 1871 ; was a member of the council in the legislative session of 1881, and was one of the county's representatives in the first State Legislature in 1890.
Other early settlers were John H. Douglas, J. E. Yates, Michael H. Murphy, James H. Hayford and Otto Gramm. Mr. Hayford was appointed judge of the Second Judicial District in 1895 upon the death of Judge John W. Blake. Otto Gramm served as city and county treasurer, as a member of the school board and in the Legislature, and in 1890 was elected the first state treasurer of Wyoming.
Although Albany is considered one of the small counties of the state, its area as given in Rand & McNally's Atlas is 4,401 square miles, or 2,816,640 acres. The principal towns and villages in the county, with their population in 1915, are as follows: Bosler, 75; Buford, 80; Foxpark, 100; Hermosa, 182; Laramie (the county seat), 4,962; Lookout, 100; Rock River, 195. According to the state census of 1915 the population of Albany County was 8,194, and in 1917 the assessed valuation of property was $15,585,603. These figures show the county to be the seventh in the state in both population and wealth. Although the state census of 1915 shows a decrease in population of 3,380 during the preceding five years, the valuation of property in 1917 was $291,204 greater than that of the year before, indicating plainly that the county lost nothing in wealth through the decrease in the number of inhabitants. No doubt much of that decrease is more apparent than real, due to the different methods employed by the United States and the State of Wyoming in taking the enumeration. The state census was taken by the county assessors, who received no additional compensation for the work and consequently could not reasonably be expected to exercise the care necessary to insure an accurate enumeration. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that in 1914 the state cast 6,951 more votes than in 1910.
The main line of the Union Pacific Railroad enters the county near the southeast comer and runs in a northwesterly direction through Laramie, Howell, Bosler, Lookout, Rock River and Wilcox into Carbon County, and the Colorado, Wyoming & Eastern rung in a southwesterly direction from Laramie into Colorado. These roads give the central and southern portions of the county good transportation facilities.
Stock raising is the principal industry. In 1910 the county reported 35.068 head of cattle, 150.000 sheep and 7,000 horses, the value of the live stock being then estimated at $1,882,476. Next in importance comes mining. From the earliest settlement of the county, even before the county was formed, gold placer mining was carried on in the gulches in various parts of the county, but no record of the value of the precious metal has been preserved. The Rambler Mine at Holmes has produced some of the richest copper ores in the West, and has also produced platinum, palladium and osmium. Coal measures have been profitably worked near Laramie. Other mineral deposits are gypsum, graphite, mica, kaolin, natural soda and cement, asbestos and a fine quality of building stone. Many of these deposits are practically untouched and the value of the mineral wealth concealed in the mountains and gulches of Albany can only be conjectured.
| The territory comprising the present County of Bighorn was originally included in the counties of Carbon and Sweetwater. When created by the act of March 12, 1890, it contained a much larger area than at the present time. The boundaries as defined by that act were as follows:|
"Commencing at a point where the northern boundary line of Wyoming Territory intersects the thirty-third meridian of longitude west from Washington; running thence south along said meridian to its intersection with the crest of the Rocky Mountains or Continental Divide, separating the waters of the Yellowstone and Snake rivers; thence in a southeasterly direction along the crest of said divide to its intersection with the eleventh standard parallel north; thence east along said standard parallel to its intersection with the crest of the mountain range dividing the waters of Wind River on the south from the waters of Greybull and Wood rivers on the north; thence along the crest of said divide between the waters of the last named streams and the crest of the divide between the waters of Wind River on the south and of Grass Creek and Owl Creek on the north, to a point on the crest of the said last named divide at the head of the south fork of Owl Creek; thence down said Owl Creek along the north boundary of the Wind River or Shoshone Reservation, to its intersection with the channel of the Big Horn River; thence southerly along the channel of said last named river to its intersection with the boundary line between the counties of Johnson and Fremont, as now constituting the same, being the Hne of 43° 30' north latitude; thence east along the said line of 43° 30' north latitude to its intersection with the range line between townships 41 north and ranges 85 and 86 west; thence north on said range line through townships 41 to 51, inclusive, to the crest of the Big Horn Mountains, the same being the divide between the waters flowing into the Big Horn River on the west and the waters of Powder River and Tongue River on the east; thence in a northwesterly direction, following the crest of said last named divide, to the forty-fifth parallel of north latitude, being the northern boundary line of Wyoming Territory; thence west along said forty-fifth parallel of north latitude to the place of beginning."
As thus originally created, the County of Bighorn included all the present county of that name. Park and Washakie counties and most of the county of Hot Springs. It was reduced to its present dimensions by the creation of the three above named counties in 1911.
Section 2 of the act creating the county provided that commissioners for organizing it should not be appointed before February 1, 1892, and that when a petition for organization should be presented to the governor, "there shall also be presented to him, before he takes action thereon in appointing such commissioners, proof, by affidavit or otherwise, showing that the counties of Fremont and Johnson, respectively, will have left within their boundaries, respectively, after the complete organization of said Bighorn County an assessed valuation of property amounting to the sum of $1,600,000, and in Bighorn County to not less than $1,500,000."
Described in language unencumbered by legal phraseology, Bighorn County is bounded on the north by the State of Montana; on the east by Johnson and Sheridan counties; on the south by Washakie County; and on the west by the County of Park. Its area is 6J768 square miles, or 4,330,520 acres, occupying the great agricultural region known as the "Big Horn Basin," and it is one of the rapidly developing counties of Wyoming. Fully 80 per cent of the land in the county is available for farming or grazing and the numerous streams furnish excellent water for live stock and for irrigation. About the beginning of the present century, some eight hundred Mormons came to this county from Utah and entered into an agreement with the state authorities to irrigate 18,000 acres. This contract was carried out and two years later there were 20q,ooo acres under irrigation. In 1910, the year before the county was divided, official statistics showed that Bighorn had 60,000 cattle, 350,000 sheep and 15,500 horses, the total value of these animals being over three and a half millions of dollars. In horse raising it led all the counties of the state in that year and it was one of the three highest in cattle raising.
There are large areas of oil lands in the Big Horn Basin, some of which have been developed with profit, especially near Byron, in the northwestern part, Bonanza, on the No Wood River, and near the Town of Greybull. In the last named field the wells yield gas as well as oil. This gas has been piped to Basin, the county seat, where it is used for fuel. The oil found in the county is of superior quality and commands the top price in the market on account of the large percentage of gasoline it contains.
The Denver & Billings Line of the Chicago, Burlington & Ouincy Railway system runs north and south through the central portion, following the course of the Big Horn River. The principal stations in the county on this road are Cowley, Frannie, Basin (the county seat), Greybull, Lovell and Manderson. Ai Frannie, in the extreme northwest corner of the county, a branch leaves this line and runs in a southwesterly direction to Cody, Park County.
In 1910 the population of Bighorn County was 13,795 and the assessed valuation of property was $15,942,567. By the organization of three new counties the next year both the population and assessed valuation of property were decreased. According to the state census of 1915 Bighorn reported a population of 6,815, and in 1917 the property valuation was $9,135,482.
The Bighorn County Farmers' Fair Association, organized some years ago, was reorganized in 1916 and in 1917 conducted the "biggest and best fair ever held in the county," attracting visitors from the adjoining counties. A new courthouse was completed early in 1918, at a cost of $65,000.
| Campbell County occupies the upper valleys of the Bellefourche and Little Powder rivers, in the northeastern part of the state. It is one of the new counties, having been created by an act of the Legislature, approved February 13, 1911. In the organic act the boundaries are thus described: "Commencing at a point on the northern boundary of the State of Wyoming where the range line between ranges 68 and 69 west intersects said boundary; thence west along said northern boundary of the State of Wyoming to a point where it intersects the line forming the east boundary line of Sheridan County; thence southerly along the said east boundary of Sheridan County and along the east boundary of Johnson County to a point formed by the intersection of the said east boundary of Johnson County with the north boundary of Converse County; thence east along the said north boundary of Converse County to its intersection with the range line between ranges 68 and 69 west; thence north along said range line and its variations to the place of beginning."|
The county was named in honor of John A. Campbell, the first governor of the Territory of Wyoming when it was organized in 1869. It has an area of over four thousand square miles, much of which is well adapted to stock raising which is the principal industry. The territory comprising the county was first made a part of Laramie County when the latter was created by the Legislature of Dakota Territory in 1867. A portion of it was included in Albany County by the first Territorial Legislature of Wyoming, and in 1875 it was embraced in Crook County, where it remained until erected into the County of Campbell.
The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad passes through the central portion of the county east and west, with stations at Gillette (the county seat), Croton, Echeta, Felix, Kier, Oriva, Sparta, Minturn, Rozet and Wessex. South of this railroad the country is sparsely settled. The population of Campbell in 1915 was 2,316, and in 1917 the assessed valuation of property was $6,363,463. It is the twentieth county in the state in point of population, and nineteenth in wealth.
| The first Territorial Legislature of Wyoming passed an act, to take effect on January 1, 1870, Section 1 of which provided: "That all that portion of Wyoming Territory described as follows, be and is hereby organized into a county by the name of Carbon, to wit: Commencing at a point one-half mile east of Como Station on the Union Pacific Railroad and running thence due north to the forty-fifth parallel of north latitude; thence west along said parallel to the line of 107° 30' west longitude; thence south along the eastern boundary of Carter (Sweetwater) County, namely the line of 107° 30' west longitude, to the forty-first parallel of north latitude; thence east along said parallel to a point due south of the point of beginning; thence north to the place of beginning."|
As thus created, the county contained all that part of Carbon west of the line dividing ranges 79 and 80 west, except that portion lying west of the line 107° 30' west longitude; the western three-fourths of Natrona County; the greater part of Johnson and Sheridan; and a strip about eighteen miles wide across the east side of Bighorn and Washakie counties. The boundaries were adjusted by subsecjuent legislation so that parts of Albany and Sweetwater were added to Carbon. On the north Carbon is bounded by Natrona County; on the east by Albany County; on the south by the State of Colorado; and on the west by Sweetwater County.
The act creating the county provided for its organization by the appointment of the following officers: A. B. Donnelly, E. V. Upton and Robert Foot, commissioners; George Doyle, sheriff; William R. Hunter, probate judge and ex-officio justice of the peace; Thomas J. Williams, county clerk and register of deeds; H. C. Hall, superintendent of public schools; Robert Foot, justice of the peace for the Fort Halleck Precinct, and a Mr. Hinton, justice of the peace for the Carbon Precinct. The county seat was located at Rawlins Springs "until removed according to law."
Among the early settlers of Carbon was Perry L. Smith, who came to Rawlins Springs in 1868. He was elected county commissioner at the first election after the county was organized and was twice reelected, serving three consecutive temis; was elected county clerk in 1874; served in the legislative sessions of 1879 and 1881, and was territorial auditor during Governor Hale's administration.
James Prance, a native of Pennsylvania, came to Wyoming in 1868, when he was about thirty years of age. In 1869 he took charge of a branch store opened by H. C. Hall & Company at Rawlins, and from that time until his death he was identified with the history of Carbon County. From 1871 to 1885 he was postmaster at Ravvflins and served several terms as county commissioner. In 1882 he engaged in the banking business, with which he was connected for the remainder of his life.
John C. Dyer, discoverer of the mineral paint deposits at Rawlins, was born in Washington, D. C, in 1845. He came to Cheyenne in 1867 and followed the Union Pacific to Rawlins. There he became associated with George Ferris, who discovered the first mine in the "Ferris District," and was active in developing the mineral deposits in all parts of Carbon County.
Isaac C. Miller was born in Denmark in 1844 and came to America soon after reaching his majority. In 1866 he located at Omaha, but after a short time removed to North Platte. He came to Rawlins in 1870 and the next year engaged in mining at Hahn's Peak. After about two years he began raising cattle, in which line he became one of the most prominent in the county. Mr. Aldler was sheriff of the county from 1880 to 1884 and in 1890 he was the democratic candidate for state treasurer at the first election after Wyoming was admitted into the Union.
According to Rand & McNally's Atlas, the area of Carbon County is 8,029 square miles. The surface is broken by mountain ranges, between which are rolling plains and fertile valleys, the altitude varying from 5,000 to 12,000 feet. In the north are the Ferris and Seminoe Mountains, northeast of which is the Shirley Basin. In the southeast are the Medicine Bow Mountains, and the Sierra Madre range is in the southwestern part. Between the two last named ranges flows the Platte River with its numerous small tributaries, forming one of the best stock raising districts of the state. In 1910 there were 52,600 cattle, 380,000 sheep, and 10,450 horses in the county, valued at over three million dollars.
Next in importance to the live stock interests comes the mining industry. The name "Carbon" was given to the county on account of its immense coal beds. Some of the most productive coal mines in the state are operated by the Union Pacific Railroad Company near the Town of Hanna. The output of the Carbon County coal mines in 1910 was nearly six hundred thousand tons and since then it has been greatly increased. The county also has rich oil fields, copper, gold and iron deposits. In the Ferris. Seminoe and Shirley ranges, in the northern part, the amount of iron ore has been estimated as high as two hundred and fifty million tons. Near Encampment, in the southern part, the Rudefeha copper mine was discovered by a sheep herder and after being only partially developed was sold for $1,000,000. It was then capitalized by an eastern company for $10,000,000 and the smelting works were erected. Other valuable mines in the Encampment District are the Rambler, Battle and Copperton.
The Saratoga Hot Springs, with a temperature of 135° Fahrenheit, are located in the Platte Valley. The waters of these springs contain sulphur, salines and calcareous salts, closely resembling the famous European springs at Carlsbad, Marienbad and Aix la Chapelle. Their curative properties in certain diseases have been demonstrated, and the location of the springs, surrounded as they are by mountains, in a valley where the streams abound in trout, is an ideal place for a health resort.
In 1915 the population of Carbon County, as given by the state census, was 8,412, and in 1917 the assessed valuation of property was $16,622,257. It is the sixth county in the state in population and wealth. The main line of the Union Pacific Railroad crosses the county east and west a little north of the center, and the Saratoga & Encampment Railroad runs from Encampment to Walcott, where it forms a junction with the Union Pacific, hence the transportation facilities of Carbon are above the average of the Wyoming counties.
| Converse is one of three counties created by the Legislature of 1888 in the passage of an act entitled "An act making divers appropriations and for other purposes." It was vetoed by Governor Moonlight and on March 9, 1888, was passed over the governor's objections and signed by John A. Riner, president of the council, and L. D. Pease, speaker of the house. The section of the act relating to Converse County was as follows:|
"All that portion of this territory described and bounded as hereinafter in this section set forth, shall, when organized according to law, constitute and be a county of this territory by and under the name of Converse, to wit: Commencing on the eastern boundary line of this territory, where the same is intersected by the forty-third degree and thirty minutes of north latitude, and running thence south along the said eastern boundary line of the territory to the township line between townships thirty and thirty-one north; running thence west along said township line to the eastern boundary line of the present County of Albany; running thence south along said eastern boundary line (of Albany County) to its intersection with the seventh standard parallel north; running thence west to the western boundary line of the present County of Albany; running thence north along the said western boundary line of the present County of Albany to the forty-third degree and thirty minutes of north latitude; and running thence east along the said forty-third degree and thirty minutes of north latitude to the place of beginning."
The act also provided that the county should be a part of the first judicial district, should constitute the ninth council district, the eleventh representative district, and should be attached to Albany and Laramie counties to form the twelfth representative district.
As established by the above act, the County of Converse embraced all the present county of that name and the County of Niobrara. It was named for A. R. Converse, who was born in the State of Massachusetts in 1842 and came to Cheyenne in the fall of 1867. There he established the first house furnishing store in the city. Two years later Francis E. Warren became a partner in this business. The partnership lasted until 1878, when Mr. Converse retired from the firm to devote his attention to his cattle business, having opened a ranch on the Chugwater in 1875. He organized the National Cattle Company, of which he was the executive head until 1884, when he disposed of his interest and organized the Converse Cattle Company, with a range on Lance Creek, in what is now Niobrara County. The capital of this company was $1,000,000. Mr. Converse was treasurer of the Territory of Wyoming under Governor Thayer's administration. He died at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York City on June 9, 1885.
Converse County is bounded on the north by the counties of Johnson, Campbell and Weston; on the east by the County of Niobrara ; on the south by the counties of Platte and Albany; and on the west by the County of Natrona. Platte County also forms a portion of the eastern boundary of that part of Converse situated directly north of Albany County. The county has an area of 6,740 square miles, or 4,313,600 acres, much of which is irrigated and some of the finest farms in the state are in this county.
Topographically, the county is made up of the spurs and foot hills of the adjacent mountain ranges and of rolling plains interspersed with numerous streams. The North Platte River crosses the western boundary a little south of the center and flows in a southeasterly direction until it leaves the county near the southeast corner. This river furnishes most of the water used for irrigation. The La Prele dam, near Douglas, the county seat, waters about thirty thousand acres. The natural bridge, one of the scenic wonders of Wyoming, spans the La Prele Creek a short distance below the dam. Near Douglas, the county seat, there is a large oil field, in which both oil and natural gas have been found and the latter has been used for both fuel and lighting purposes. There are also rich coal deposits near the city. The finest coal west of the Missouri River is found in the Shawnee Basin, in the southeastern part of this county.
The Chicago, Burlington & Ouincy and the Chicago & Northwestern railroads follow the course of the Platte River through Converse County, the former on the north bank and the latter on the south bank west of old Fort Fetterman. The principal railroad stations are: Douglas, Careyhurst, Fetterman, Glenrock, Glencross, Lockett and Shawnee. The population in 1910 was 6,294, which included also the present County of Niobrara, which was set oflF from Converse in 1911. In 1915 Converse reported a population of 3,626 for the state census. The assessed valuation of property in 1917 was $9,927,722. Fifteen counties in the state reported a larger population in 1915, but only nine showed a larger property valuation in 1917.
| This county, named in honor of Gen. George Crook, was created by an act of the Legislature approved by Governor Thayer on December 10, 1875. Section i of the act fixed the boundaries of the county as follows: "Commencing at the northeast corner of the Territory of Wyoming; thence south along the boundary line between said territory and the Territory of Dakota to the forty-third degree and thirty minutes of north latitude; thence west along said latitude to the 106th meridian of longitude west from Greenwich; thence north with said meridian to the southern boundary of the Territory of Montana; thence east along said boundary to the place of beginning; Provided, That if by reason of any treaty with the Sioux tribe of Indians and any act of Congress any part of the Territory of Dakota shall be included within the limits of this territory, the same shall form and constitute a part of the aforesaid county."|
Crook County, as thus established, was taken from the counties of Laramie and Albany and embraced the present counties of Crook, Campbell and Weston. It was reduced to its present dimensions in 1911 and is now bounded on the north by the State of Montana; on the east by the State of South Dakota; on the south by Weston County; and on the west by Campbell County. Its area is a little less than three thousand square miles and a mean altitude of about four thousand feet, being in the lowest part of the state. It is therefore particularly adapted to agriculture, especially as it has an average annual precipitation of twenty-four inches. Years ago, when farming in many parts of Wyoming was unthought of without irrigation, the farmers of Crook County were gathering abundant crops, watered only by the natural rainfall. Wheat, oats, rye, corn, garden vegetables and small fruits can all be raised with profit in this county.
Stock raising is another leading occupation. In 1910 the county reported 76,175 head of cattle, 202,216 sheep, and was one of the foremost counties in the state in the number of horses, the value of live stock in that year running well over three million dollars.
Coal measures underlie about one-half of the county. The best developed mining district is in the vicinity of Aladdin, which town is the terminus of the Wyoming & Missouri River Railroad. In addition to the coal deposits, gold, silver, tin, copper, lead and manganese have all been found in different sections, some of them in quantities that could profitably be worked but for the lack of transportation facilities. Besides the railroad above mentioned, the only other railroad in the county is the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, which crosses the southwest corner. Kara and Moorcroft are the stations on the latter. Sundance, the county seat, is located southeast of the center of the county, at the base of Sundance Mountain and near the source of Sundance Creek.
One of the natural curiosities of the United States is seen in Crook County. It is a basaltic formation rising to a height of 1,300 feet above the surrounding country and is called the "Devil's Tower." This marvelous freak of nature is situated on the Bellefourche River, a little west of the center of the county, on a reservation set apart by the National Government.
In 1915 the state census reported a population of 5,117 in Crook County, and in 1917 the property was valued for tax puqxises at $17,337,235. These figures show the county to be thirteenth in population and fourteenth in wealth of the Wyoming counties.
| Fremont is the largest county in Wyoming, having an area of almost eleven thousand square miles. On March 5, 1884. Governor Hale approved an act of the Territorial Legislature creating Fremont County with the following boundaries: "Commencing at the northwest corner of Sweetwater County; running thence south on the western boundary line of said county to the boundary line between townships 26 and 27 north; thence east on said township 1 ne to a point 107° 30' west from Greenwich, being the western boundary of Carbon County; thence north along the said line of 107° 30' of longitude to its intersection with the line of 43° 30' north latitude, being the southern boundary of Johnson County; thence west along said line of 43° 30' north latitude to the Big Horn River; thence down said Big Horn River to the forty-fifth parallel of north latitude, being the boundary line between Montana and Wyoming; thence west along said forty-fifth parallel of north latitude to the place of beginning."|
If the reader will now take a map of Wyoming and trace the original boundaries of Fremont County as above described, he will discover that the county at first included all the present counties of Fremont and Park and that of Bighorn and Hot Springs counties lying west of the Big Horn River. The county was named for Lieut. John C. Fremont, who first visited this section of Wyoming in 1842 and ascended the mountain that bears his name, located in the western part of Fremont County. He afterward rose to be a general in the Union army at the time of the Civil war.
The act creating the county provided that it should remain under the jurisdiction of Sweetwater County until organized, and that all Indian lands within its borders should become a part of the county when the title to said lands should be extinguished. A further provision was that the county should be organized whenever 300 or more resident taxpayers petitioned the governor, who should appoint three commissioners to organize the county. The commissioners appointed to conduct organization were: H. G. Nickerson. B. F. Low and Horace E. Blinn, all residents of the county.
At the first county election Robert H. Hall, A. J. McDonald and Horace E. Blinn were chosen commissioners; James J. Atkins, sheriff; and James A. McAvoy, clerk. Robert H. Hall was born at Sacketts Harbor, N. Y., in 1852, and came to Wyoming about the time he reached his majority. In 1877 he located in Lander, where he engaged in the cattle business. Of the other early commissioners little can be learned.
James J. Atkins, the first sheriff, was born in Wisconsin in 1853. He came to Dakota Territory before he was twenty-one years of age. A little later he located at Lander and became interested in stock raising.
James A. McAvoy, the first clerk, was born in Ohio in 1842 and came to Cheyenne, Wyo., in 1868. The next year he went to South Pass, where for some time he was engaged in mining. In 1873 he settled on Willow Creek, within the lines of the Wind River reservation. He and Samuel Fairfield later opened the road from the timbered lands on the Popo Agie River to Lander.
John Luman, who was the first cattle raiser in the county, was a native of Virginia. He came to Fort Bridger soon after the close of the Civil war and was there employed for some time by the post sutler. He then settled in what is now Fremont County, where he held several local offices.
Another early settler was John D. Woodruff, who was born in Broome County, N. Y., in 1847. When only about nineteen years of age he joined a company of emigrants bound for the West and a few months later was in the mining district near the South Pass. Young Woodruff became well acquainted with the country and acted as guide to Generals Crook and Sheridan when the site of Fort Custer was selected. He was several times called to act as guide in the Indian campaigns that followed the Civil war.
Maj. Noyes Baldwin, one of the best known of Fremont County's pioneers, was born in Woodbridge, Conn., in 1826. He served in a Connecticut regiment during the war of 1861-65, where he received his title of "Major," and soon after the close of the war came to the Wind River Valley. He was the leader of the party that discovered gold at the South Pass, the others being Henry Ridell, Frank Marshall, Harry Hubbell and Richard Grace, and perhaps two or three others. These men founded South Pass City in October, 1867, the oldest town in Fremont County. Major Baldwin was engaged in trading with the Indians in the Wind River Valley for several years and was one of the first settlers in the City of Lander.
One of the first public buildings erected in the county after its organization was a jail. By the act of February 15, 1886, the county commissioners were authorized to sell this building and use the proceeds in the construction of a new courthouse and jail, the balance of the cost of the building to be raised by an issue of bonds not exceeding twenty-five thousand dollars.
Topographically, Fremont County occupies the "crest of the continent." The Wind River Range, which forms part of the great Continental Divide, passes through the western part from northwest to southeast; in the southeasten part are the Granite and Green mountains and the Antelope Hills; and along the northeastern border are the Owl Creek Mountains. Fremont Peak, the highest mountain of the Wind River Range, has an elevation of 13,570 feet above the level of the sea. Along this range numerous streams find their source. Those on the east side flow into the Wind River, their waters ultimately reaching the Atlantic Ocean, while those of the western slope flow into the Green River and find their way to the Pacific. The waters of a number of these streams have been taken for irrigation, with the result that some of the finest irrigated farms in the state are to be found in Fremont County.
The county is rich in mineral resources. During the first five years after the discovery of gold at the South Pass, about seven million dollars' worth of the precious metal was taken from the mines, and a considerable amount has been taken out since that time. A few years ago improved mining methods were introduced in the gold fields of this section and ores yielding a value of only ten dollars per ton have been developed.
About twenty miles south of Lander there is a large deposit of high grade iron ore, which will certainly be utilized at some period in the future, when the product of the mines can be transported to the markets. Other valuable mineral deposits contain sulphur, alum, high grade clays, cement and fine building stone.
It is a fact worthy of note that the first oil wells in Wyoming were sunk in Fremont County and called the attention of the outside world to the vast possibilities of the Wyoming oil fields. The county also has a large area of valuable coal-bearing lands, but the development of the deposits began only recently. In 1910 the largest coal camp, located at Hudson, a few miles below Lander on the Popo Agie River, shipped 104,140 tons. Since then the shipments have been greatly increased, the coal going to points along the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad as far east as Omaha.
Notwithstanding the mining interests are of importance, farming and stock raising are the leading occupations. In 1910 the county reported 32,460 head of cattle, 378,000 sheep, and 10,000 horses, the total value of the live stock in that year being given as $7,864,000. As new lands are constantly being brought under irrigation, the agricultural development is going forward at a rapid pace.
The greatest drawback to the progress of Fremont County is the lack of transportation facilities. The Chicago & Northwestern, which runs from Lander down the Popo Agie Valley, and the Chicago, Burlngton & Quincy, which traverses the northeastern part of the county, are the only railroads. When one stops to consider that it is about one hundred and twenty-five miles across Fremont County; that the county is about nine times as large as the entire State of Rhode Island, and that it has only about one hundred and twenty-five miles of railroad in all, the need of transportation lines may be readily seen.
In 1915 the population of Fremont County was 9,633, and in 1917 the assessed valuation of property was $12,985,999. Of the twenty-one counties of Wyoming, Fremont stands fifth in population and eighth in the valuation of property. The principal towns and villages in the cpunty, with their population in 1915, are as follows: Lander (the county seat), 1,726; Atlantic City, 218; Dubo's, 142; Hudson, 428; Pinedale, 83: Riverton, 803: Shoshoni, 278; South Pass City, 83.
| Goshen is one of the new counties created by the Legislature of 1911. the act creating it having been approved by Governor Carey on the 11th of February of that year. Section 1 provided: "That all that portion of the State of Wyoming, bounded as hereinafter in this section set forth, is hereby erected, created and made a county of the State of Wyoming, by the name of Goshen: Commencing at a point on the boundary line between the State of Wyoming and the State of Nebraska, where the township line between townships 30 and 31 north intersects said boundary line, and running thence south along said boundary line between the State of Wyoming and the State of Nebraska to the township line between townships 18 and 19 north; thence west on said township line to the section line between sections 33 and 34. in township 19 north, range 65 west of the sixth principal meridian; thence north along the middle section line of range 65 to its intersection with the north boundary line of Laramie County; thence east along said county boundary to the place of beginning."|
The act further provided that when the county was organized it should be a part of the first judicial district, and that it should be attached to Laramie County, from which it was taken, for Legislative purposes. Goshen County is about thirty miles wide and a little over seventy miles long. It contains nearly twenty-two hundred square miles and is bounded on the north by Niobrara County; on the east by the State of Nebraska; on the south by Laramie County, and on the west by the counties of Laramie and Platte. The North Platte River enters the county from the west, about twenty miles from the northwest corner, and flows in a southeasterly direction until it crosses the state line into Nebraska. Along this stream there are about fifty thousand acres of irrigated lands, and in the county there are some thirty-five thousand acres upon which dry farming is carried on successfully. The state owns an experimental farm near Torrington, the county seat of Goshen, where tests are made of pasture grasses and grains and methods of feeding live stock are demonstrated. This farm was established in 1915.
The United States Reclamation Service has established in Goshen County one of the greatest irrigation enterprises in the West, the Government dam at Whalen being the initial point of the Interstate canal on the north side of the Platte River and the Laramie Canal on the south side. Both these canals run into Nebraska, watering in Goshen County alone 100,000 acres of land and a much larger area in Nebraska. The combined length of the two canals is 250 miles and the cost was about ten million dollars. The cost of the Whalen dam was over one million dollars. The Fort Laramie Canal was nearly completed during the season of 1918 and water is supplied by this canal to the Goshen Hole settlers. The Interstate Canal was completed in 1915.
Athough one of the smaller counties of Wyoming. Goshen takes high rank in the production of live stock. In 1917 there were 40,563 head of cattle assessed for taxation, over twelve thousand hogs, some sheep and horses, the total value of domestic animals in the county amounting to over two million dollars, or about one-third of the total assessment.
Along the north bank of the Platte River runs the Lincoln & Billings division of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railway system, and the most densely populated part of the county 's along the line of the railroad. Torrington. the county seat, is situated on this railroad in the eastern part of the county. Other important railway stations are Lingle, Fort Laramie, Vaughn and Whalen. Fort Laramie is situated on the old Fort Laramie military reservation in the western part, where many of the stirring scenes of Wyoming's early days were enacted.
In 1915 Goshen County reported a population of 5,035, and in 1917 the assessed valuation of property was $6,062,773, an increase of $757,977 over that of the preceding year. While thirteen counties of the state reported larger population, and nineteen showed a larger valuation of property in 1917, only five showed a greater percentage of increase in the taxable property. In 1916 the superintendent of public instruction reported fifty-five schoolhouses and eighty-nine teachers in Goshen County, and the commissioners have recently completed a $40,000 courthouse, which was paid for entirely by contributions from the citizens.
|HOT SPRINGS COUNTY|
| The County of Hot Springs, the smallest of the State of Wyoming, is situated northwest of the center of the state in the valley of the Big Horn River. It was created by an act of the Legislature, approved by Governor Carey on February 9, 1911, with the most irregular boundaries of any county in the state, over a page of the statutes being necessary to record the legal and technical description of the boundary lines. Generally speaking, it is bounded on the north by Park and Washakie counties: on the east by Washakie; on the south and southwest by Fremont; and on the west by Park. The county takes its name from the Big Horn Hot Springs, located on a state reservation a little east of the center of the county, and the territory of which it is composed was taken from the counties of Fremont, Bighorn and Park.|
The springs from which the county derives its name were long known to the Indians as possessing curative properties in certain diseases, and they are believed by physicians who have examined and tested the waters to be the greatest medicinal springs in the United States, if not in the world, in cases of rheumatism, kidney trouble, blood diseases and eruptions of the skin. The largest spring flows over eighteen million gallons of water daily, with a temperature of 135° Fahrenheit. Jim Bridger was probably the first white man to bathe in the waters of these now noted springs. The old Bridger Trail from Fort Fetterman to the Alontana gold fields crossed the Big Horn River at the mouth of Owl Creek, five or six miles below the springs and the trans, for which Bridger was the guide, used to leave the trail at the ford and spend a few days at the hot springs, while their horses recruited on the luxuriant grass of the surrounding glades. Subsequently cowboys built some rude bath houses and sometimes wintered there. But it was not until the completion of the Chicago, Burlington & Ouincy Railroad that the springs began to be widely known.
Years before Hot Springs County was organized, cattle men drove their herds into the Big Horn Basin, and the industry still flourishes in the county. During the year 1917 about four hundred and fifty carloads of cattle were shipped from the stations on the Chicago, Burlington & Ouincy Railroad to the markets at Omaha and Chicago. Sheep also are raised in large numbers, so that it may be said that the live stock business is the leading one of the county.
Rich coal fields have been opened at Gebo, near the northern boundary, at Crosby, a short distance southeast of Gebo, the Ray Alines twelve miles northeast of Thermopolis, the Hoyt Mines, sixteen miles northwest of Thermopolis, and there are large coal deposits on Owl Creek and Cottonwood Creek that have not been touched. The Gebo Mines shipped 300,000 tons during the year 1917. Short spurs of railroad have been built from the main line to the mines at Gebo and Crosby.
This county was the scene of remarkable oil discoveries in 1917, and so rapid was the development that a pipe line was constructed and a local syndicate entered into a contract to deliver 500,000 barrels of oil from the Warm Springs Dome near Thermopolis to the Midwest Refining Company. Early in 1918 scores of wells were being sunk in dififerent oil domes of the county, which was then recognized as being one of the great oil producing sections of the state.
The population of Hot Springs County in 1915 is given in the state census reports as 3,191, and in 1917 the assessed valuation of property was $6,591,102, an increase over the assessment of the preceding year of $1,751,461. This was the largest proportionate increase reported by any county in Wyoming, being almost 37 per cent. Thermopolis, the county seat, is the only incorporated town in the county. Along the line of the railroad are located Minnesela, Lucerne and Kirby, all thriving villages, and the mining towns of Gebo and Crosby are both lively places.
| On December 8, 1875, Gov. John M. Thayer approved an act of the Territorial Legislature creating a new county from the northern part of Albany and Carbon counties, to wit:|
"All that part of the Territory of Wyoming bounded and described as follows, shall be erected into a county to be known by the name of Pease, as hereinafter prov'ded: Commencing at the northwest corner of Crook County; thence south along the western boundary line of said county to the southwest corner thereof; thence west along the line of 43° 30' north latitude to the Big Horn River; thence down the latter stream to the southern boundary of the Territory of Montana; thence east along said boundary line to the place of beginning: Provided, That all the country embraced within the limits of boundaries of said county, shall, for judicial and all other purposes, remain and constitute, as now. part of the counties from which the same is proposed to be taken, respectively, until organized as hereinafter provided."
The original boundaries of the county included the present counties of Johnson and Sheridan, and that portion of the counties of Bighorn. Hot Springs and Washakie lying east of the Big Horn River. At the time the county was created by the Legislature there were not more than a score of white people living within its limits. During the winter of 1875-76, the Sioux Indians were constantly committing depredations upon the frontier settlements. The campaigns of Generals Crook. Terry. Custer and Gibbon in 1876 improved the conditions and in the spring of 1877 the Indians were made to retire to their reservation. Then the actual settlement of the county was begun.
To Elias N. Snider is given the credit of being the first permanent settler in Johnson County. He was born in Ohio in 1842 and in 1877 became the post trader at Fort McKinney. near the present City of Buffalo. About two years later he acquired a tract of land and engaged in farming and cattle raising.
Maj. B. J. Hart came soon after Mr. Snider and took a claim where Buffalo now stands. He was elected the first probate judge when the county was organized and later was elected to the Lower House of the Legislature.
Stephen T. Farwell was appointed a justice of the peace before the organization of the county. He aided in organizing the county in 1881 and in 1884 he was elected probate judge to succeed Major Hart. When Wyoming was admitted into the Union in 1890, Mr. Farwell was elected the first superintendent of public instruction.
Frank M. Canton, one of the most active of the early settlers, was born in Mrginia in 1854. When about fourteen years of age he went with his parents to Colorado. A few years later he entered the employ of William Jamison, of Montana, as a cowboy, and in 1877 he came to Wyoming, first locating in Cheyenne, but soon after in Pease (now Johnson) County. As a detective for the Wyoming Stockgrowers Association he arrested a number of horse and cattle thieves, some of them "bad men." and in 1882 he was elected sheriff of Johnson County.
The first white woman to settle in the county was Mrs. Alice D. Foster, who came to Wyoming with her husband in 1878. settling on a claim where Fort Philip Kearny formerly stood, near the northern boundary of the county. Mrs. Foster died at Phoenix. Ariz., in April. 1918. She was a sister of Hiram Davidson, of Cheyenne
The act creating the county provided that it should not be organized until five hundred or more qualified voters, residing therein, should petition the governor to appoint commissioners for that purpose. By the Act of December 13, 1879. the name of the county was changed from Pease to Johnson, in honor of Edward P. Johnson, United States attorney for the Territory of Wyoming for several years, whose death occurred in October before the change of name of the county. In March, 1881, Governor Hoyt appointed commissioners and the county was organized according to law.
On March 5, 1884, the governor of the territory approved an act of the Legislature authorizing the county commissioners of Johnson to purchase or receive by donation a site in Buffalo for a courthouse and jail, and to issue bonds in any amount not exceeding thirty thousand dollars, bearing not more than 8 per cent interest, for the erection of the building, at the same time levy a tax of two mills on the dollar for the purpose of paying the principal and interest. Under the provisions of this act the courthouse was erected.
Johnson County is situated northeast of the center of the state. It is bounded on the north by Sheridan County: on the east by Campbell; on the south by Converse and Natrona; and on the west by Bighorn and Washakie. According to Rand & McNally's Atlas, the area is 4,175 square miles. It is watered by the Powder River and its tributaries, which have been used to some extent for irrigation purposes. Coal of a fine qualty is mined in large quantities about a mile from Bufifalo, and there are deposits of oil, gold, silver and quicksilver within the county, but the principal industry is stock raising, many cattle, sheep and horses and some hogs being exported every year.
The Wyoming Railroad is the only one in the county. It runs from Buffalo to Clearmont, Sheridan County, where it connects with the Chicago. Burlington & Quincy. Buffalo is the county seat and principal town. Other towns and villages of importance are Barnum, Kaycee, Kearney, Mayoworth, Trabing and Watt. In 1915 the population was 3,238, and in 1917 the assessed valuation of property was $7,272,918. an -ncrease of over 10 per cent above the assessment of 1916. Johnson stands eighteenth of the counties of the state in population and fifteenth in wealth.
| Laramie County occupies the southeast corner of the state. It is bounded on the north by the counties of Platte and Goshen; on the east by the State of Nebraska ; on the south by the State of Colorado ; and on the west by Albany County. It is sixty-four miles in length from east to west, and its greatest width from north to south is about forty-five miles, giving it an area of a little less tlian three thousand square miles. This county was first created by the Dakota Legislature, the governor of that territory approving the act on January 9. 1867. When thus established, Laramie County included all the present state of Wyoming, except the triangle west of the Continental Divide and north of the northern boundary of Sweetwater County.|
On Friday, September 27, 1867. the settlers in the county met at the city hall in Cheyenne for the purpose of perfecting the county organization. H. M. Hook was called upon to preside and James R. Whitehead was chosen secretary. A resolution was adopted that the boundaries of Laramie County "be the same as those established by an act of the Legislative Assembly of Dakota Territory, approved January 9, 1867.
W. L. Kuykendall, L. L. Bedell and Thomas J. Street were appointed a committee to divide the county into three election precincts, and an election was ordered to be held on the second Tuesday in October for county officers, two representatives to the Dakota Legislature, a delegate to Congress, and to locate the county seat. At the election on October 8, 1867, J. S. Casement received a majority of the votes cast for delegate; J. R. Whitehead and Charles D. Bradley were elected representatives; C. L. Howell and M. H. Hissman and W. L. Hopkins, county commissioners; W. L. Kuykendall. probate judge; Thomas J. Street, district attorney; D. J. Sweeney, sheriff; J. H. Creighton, register of deeds: L. L. Bedell, treasurer; James Irwin, coroner; J. H. Gildersleeve, superintendent of schools; F". Landberg, surveyor. Nineteen hundred votes were cast and Cheyenne was declared the county seat by a substantial majority.
In the fall of 1867 the miners about the South Pass and the settlers in the neighborhood of Fort Bridger organized a county, to which they gave the name of Carter. The boundaries of this county were not definitely fixed, and even if they had been ever so carefully described, the organizers of the county could not have enforced their declaration, as they were acting without the authority of law. However, the Dakota Legislature recognized the county by an act approved on December 27, 1867. Messrs. Bradley and Whitehead, the representatives from Laramie County, succeeded in securing the passage of a supplementary act (approved on January 3, 1868) fixing the western boundary of Laramie County at the one hundred and seventh meridian of longitude west from Greenwich.
The supplementary act also named new county officers, to wit: Benjamin Ellinger, P. McDonald and Beals, county commissioners; J. L. Laird, sheriff; William L. Morris, recorder; W. L. Kuykendall, probate judge; J. H. Gildersleeve, superintendent of schools; S. H. Winsor, surveyor; Johnson, coroner; A. B. Moore and A. W. Brown, justices of the peace; F. Masterson, constable. These officials remained in office until after the territorial government of Wyoming went into effect.
Laramie County, as established by this act, extended from the one hundred and fourth to the one hundred and seventh meridians of longitude west from Greenwich, and from the forty-first to the forty-fifth parallel of north latitude. It included the present counties of Laramie, Albany, Goshen, Platte, Converse, Niobrara, Weston, Campbell and Crook, the eastern two-thirds of Sheridan, Natrona and Carbon, and nearly all of Johnson.
The first Legislature of Wyoming Territory was convened on October 12, 1869. During the session Governor Campbell approved acts creating five counties, one of which was Laramie. The western boundary was then fixed where it is at the present time, but it extended from the northern to the southern boundary of the state. The act took effect on December 13, 1869. Section 1 reads as follows: "That until the first general election, to be held in this territory on the second Tuesday in September, A. D. 1870, and until their successors are elected and qualified, the following named persons are hereby declared to be the county officers of Laramie as hereinafter stated, viz.: County commissioners, L. Murrin, H. J. Rogers and George D. Foglesong; sheriff, T. J. Carr; judge of probate, William L. Kuydendall; county clerk and ex-officio register of deeds, John T. Chaffin : coroner, C. C. Furley. M. D.; surveyor, S. H. Winsor; county attorney. H, Garbanati: county superintendent of schools. Rev. H. P. Peck; justices of the peace–Pine Bluffs, D. C. Tracy; Cheyenne, William Baker; Fort Laramie, Frank Gates; constables–Pine Bluffs. William Rowland; Cheyenne, A. J. Alead; Fort Laramie, Gibson Clark."
In the chapter on Cheyenne mention is made of quite a number of the early settlers in Laramie County, but there were a few others deserving of notice. A. H. Swan settled in the county in 1872. Two years later he was joined by his brother, Thomas Swan, and the two bought the herd of cattle belonging to H. B. Kelley and established a ranch on the Chugwater. In time they became the largest cattle owners north of Texas. They organized the Swan Brothers Cattle Company, which at one time owned over two hundred thousand head of cattle and forty ranches. George T. Morgan, an Englishman, visited Wyoming in 1876 for the purpose of interesting cattlemen in the Hereford stock. Two years later he came again, bringing with him a herd of Hereford cattle, and he was etnployed by the Swan brothers as manager of the "Wyoniing Hereford Association," which at one time controlled a range of 40,000 acres.
Hiram S. Manville, another large cattle man, was born in Massachusetts in 1829 and came to Wyoining when he was about fifty years old. In 1881 he became associated with A. R. Converse in organizing the Converse Cattle Company, with a capital stock of $500.000: A. R. Converse, president: W. C. Irvine, vice president; James S. Peck, secretary and treasurer; H. S. Manville, general manager.
Others who located in Laramie County while Wyoming was still a territory were: Harry Oelrichs, Thomas W. Peters, T. B. Hord, John Chase, A. C. Campbell, A. T. Babbitt and H. E. Teschemacher. A. T. Babbitt organized the Standard Cattle Company. Mr. Teschemacher served in both houses of the Territorial Legislature and was a delegate to the constitutional convention in i88q. He and his brother Arthur were the owners of six large ranches in Eastern Wyoming.
The first term of court ever held in Laramie County began on Monday. March 2, 1868, Chief Justice Asa Bartlett of the Dakota Supreme Court presiding. This was the first term of court held in what is now the State of Wyoming.
By the act of December 16. 1871. the county commissioners were authorized to purchase or receive by donation a site for a courthouse and jail in Cheyenne, and to issue bonds to the amount of $35,000, " or so much thereof as may be necessary," to erect the building, the bonds to draw interest at not more than 10 per cent per annum. The courthouse and jail were completed the following year, at a cost of $47,000. A little later the county hospital was built, at a cost of $21,000.
Laramie has the best transportation facilities of anv county in the state. The Union Pacific, the Chicago. Burlington & Quincy, and the Colorado & Southern all center at Cheyenne, which city is the most important railroad center in the state. Altogether there are 181 miles of railway in the county.
In 1915 the population of Laramie County was 14,631, as shown by the state census of that year. The United States census of 1910 gave the county 26,127. The decrease is due to the creation of Goshen and Platte counties by the Legislature of 1911. The valuation of property in 1917 was $25,190,855. While much of Laramie County's imperial greatness has departed with the organization of new counties from its original territory, it is still the w-ealth"est county in the state and stands second in population, being exceeded in the latter respect only by the County of Sheridan.
| On February 20. 1911, Governor Joseph M. Carey approved an act of the Wyoming Legislature contaning the following provision: "All that portion of the State of Wyoming described and bounded as hereinafter in this section set forth is hereby created and formed a county of the State of Wyoming by the name of Lincoln County. Said Lincoln County shall be bounded as follows, to wit:|
"Commencing at the point where the present boundary line between the counties of Sweetwater and Uinta crosses the township line between townships 18 and 19 north; running thence west along said township line to its intersection with the west boundary line of the State of Wyoming; thence north along said west boundary line of the State of Wyoming to its intersection with the south boundary line of the Yellowstone National Park; thence east along the south boundary line of said Yellowstone National Park to the intersection of said boundary line with the present boundary line between the counties of Bighorn (Park) and Uinta: thefice south along the present east boundary line of Uinta County to the point where said boundary line intersects the line between townships 18 and 19, the place of beginning."
Lincoln is one of the large counties of the state. Its length from north to south is about one hundred and eighty miles, and its width is fifty miles, giving it an area of about nine thousand square miles. The surface is greatly diversified. In the northern part is Jackson's Hole, or the "Big Game Country." Jackson Lake, a beautiful body of water, is drained by the Snake River, which flows in a southwesterly direction into Idaho. The great bend of the Green River passes through the southeastern part, and in the southwest the county is watered by the Bear River and its tributaries.
West of the Snake River are the Teton Alountains. which are among the highest of the Rocky Mountain system. South of the Tetons along the western boundary of the county lie the Snake River and Salt River ranges, and south of Jackson's Hole is the Gros Ventre range. There are also a number of isolated peaks, such as Mount Moran, Virginia Peak, Bald Mountain, Mount Leidy, Hoback Peak. etc. Between the mountain ranges are beautiful, fertile valleys, where stock raising is carried on successfully. In 1916 the county stood first in the number of cattle and fourth -n the number of sheep. More than eight hundred carloads of sheep and three millions pounds of wool were shipped from the county during the year.
Trappers, fur traders and passing emigrants were the first white people in what is now Lincoln County. Fort Bonneville, an account of which is given in an early chapter of this work, was built in 1832 near the junction of Horse Creek and the Green River. The site of this old fort was marked by the Oregon Trail Commission on August 9. 1916. Placer gold was found on the south fork of the Snake River at an early date and was worked by adventurous prospectors. One of these. Jack Davis by name, held onto his claim in the Grand Canyon until his death in 1915. The actual settlement of the county did not beg'n, however, until a few vears after the close of the Civil War.
In 1868 Beckwith, Quinn & Company took up a tract of 15,000 acres in the Bear River Valley, about fifty miles north of Evanston, and engaged in stock raising on a large scale. The first agricultural settler was Justin Pomeroy, who located a claim on the Fontenelle Creek in September, 1874. In that same year John Bourne, with his wife and four children, drove over from Cache Valley, Utah, and settled where the Town of Cokeville now stands. Mr. Bourne made a living for himself and family by trapping and selling furs. Soon after his arrival Sylvanus Collett and his family settled in the vicinity. Bourne and Collett had long been acqua'nted, having crossed the plains with the early Mormon emigrants. A Mormon colony settled in the Salt River Valley in 1877.
Star Valley, west of the Salt River range, was settled in the '70s. Emil Stumpf and William White established salt works near the present Town of Auburn, and hauled their salt over the old Lander Trail, which crossed the valley, to the mining camps in Idaho and Montana. Ox teams were used and the salt was sold at from forty to sixty cents per pound. Other early settlers in the valley were George and William Heap, Jay J. and Albert Rolph. John Hill, Moses Thatcher, David Robinson, Jacob Grocer, James and Samuel Sibbetts, Charles Smith and James Francis. Most of these pioneers belonged to the Mormon colony mentioned in the preceding paragraph.
In the latter '70s D. B. Budd, A. W. Smith, Cyrus Fish, D. B. Rathbun and a few others located on the Green River, about where the Town of Big Piney is now situated. The first permanent settlers in the Jackson's Hole country were John Holland and John Games, who took claims there in 1883. This part of the county has been widely advertised through the work of Stephen N. Leek, whose pictures of wild animals and articles on "Big Game" have been published all over the country. Mr. Leek came to Lincoln County in 1888.
Reference has already been made to the importance of Lincoln County's stock raising industry. But the live stock interests are not the only business attractions. Coal mining is carried on extensively, mines being operated at numerous places in the southern part, near the railroad, and many of the known deposits are yet untouched. Copper mines have recently been opened near Cokeville and Afton, iron ore, graphite and manganese are known to exist in large quantities, and the county has immense phosphate beds, which at some time in the future are certain to be developed. Phosphate is now shipped in small quantities from Sage and Cokeville, and oil has been discovered in several places.
The people living in the southern part of the county find transportation facilities in the Oregon Short Line Railroad, which leaves the Union Pacific at Granger in the western part of Sweetwater and runs in a northwesterly direction into Idaho. Those livmg in the northern part are less fortunate, as they have to journey into Idaho to reach the division of the Oregon Short Line Railroad that has its southern terminus at Victor. Better railroad accommodations are the great need of the county, and the immense value of the undeveloped natural resources is an invitation to capitalists to supply this need.
Lincoln County was named in honor of Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States. In 1915 its population was 13,381, and in 1917 the assessed valuation of property was $16,856,331. It is the third county in the state in population and fifth in property valuation. Of the sixty-eight incorporated towns in Wyoming, according to the census of 1915. nine were reported from Lincoln County. These towns, with their population, were as follows: Kemnierer (the county seat). 1,481 ; Afton, 673 : Big Piney, 141 ; Cokeville, 305; Diamondville, 1,018; Jackson, 204: Marbleton, 67; Opal, 65: Sublet, 524.
| Three counties were created by the Territorial Legislature of 1888 by an act entitled: "An act making divers appropriations and for other purposes." This act was vetoed by Governor Moonlight, but was passed over the veto. One of three counties is Natrona, the boundaries of which were defined as follows:|
"Commencing at a point on the seventh standard parallel north, at its intersection with the western boundary line of the present County of Albany; thence west along said standard parallel to its intersection with the western boundary line of the present County of Carbon; thence north along said last described boundary line to the southern boundary Ine of the present County of Johnson: thence east along said boundary line of Johnson County to the northwestern corner of the present County of Albany; thence south along the western boundary line of said County of Albany to the place of beginning; being all that portion of the present County of Carbon. Territory of Wyoming, lying north of the seventh standard parallel north."
The county is almost square, being about seventy-two miles on each side, and according to Rand, McNally's Atlas, it has an area of 5,353 square miles. The southern end of the Big Horn Mountain range touches the northwest corner. Farther south is the Rattlesnake range. The Granite Mountains lie across the boundary between Natrona and Fremont counties. In the southeastern part are the Casper. Haystack and Clear Creek ranges, and in the southwest corner between the Sweetwater River and the southern boundary, is an elevation called Fort Ridge. The remainder of the county consists of plateau lands and rolling plains, watered by the Platte, Sweetwater and Powder rivers and their tributaries. Natrona is therefore well adapted to stock raising, the plateaus, mountains and narrow valleys affording both winter and summer range, while the irrigated lands in the broader valleys olifer splendid opportunities for farms and stock ranches where forage crops can be raised in abundance. The county has a high rank as a producer of both sheep and cattle. In 1910 the value of live stock was $3,400,000.
Some of the most profitable oil fields in the state have been developed in this county, over two million barrels being reported in 1915. Other mineral resources are natural soda, which gives the county coal, copper, asbestos and gold and silver in small quantities. Among the natural wonders are the Alcova Hot Springs, on the Platte River, about ten miles from the southern boundary. The waters of these springs are said to possess great medicinal virtue in the treatment of rheumatism and kindred diseases.
Two lines of railroad–the Chicago & Northwestern and the Chicago. Burlington & Quincy–cross the county east and west through the central portion, following the Platte River from the eastern border to Casper, the county seat. where they diverge slightly to the northwest and follow that course into Fremont County. The principal towns are situated along these I'nes of railway, the most important being Casper. Bucknum. Cadoma, Natrona, Talona. Waltman and Wolton.
In 1915 the population of Natrona County was 5,398, and in 1917 the property was assessed at $19,074,557, placing it the eleventh county in the state in population and fourth in wealth. Only one county (Hot Springs) showed a greater proportionate increase in the assessed valuation of property over the assessment of 1916.
| This county, which takes its name from the river flowing through the southern portion of it. was called into existence by an act of the Wyoming Legislature, approved on February 14, 1911, providing that: "All that portion of the State of Wyoming described and bounded as hereinafter in this section set forth, is hereby created and formed a county of the State of Wyoming by the name of Niobrara County: Beginning at a point where the north line of Converse County as heretofore constituted intersects the dividing line between sections 27 and 28 in township 41 north, range 67 west of the sixth principal meridian; running thence south on section lines to the south boundary line of Converse County as it now exists; thence east along said south boundary to the east line of the State of Wyoming; thence north along the boundary line between the State of Wyoming and the states of Nebraska and South Dakota to the southeast corner of Weston County, that is to say, to the boundary line as heretofore existing between the counties of Weston and Converse; thence west along the boundary line as heretofore existing between the counties of Weston and Converse to the place of beginning."|
Niobrara, as thus created, is about forty-two miles wide and sixty-two miles long. It is bounded on the north by Weston County; on the east by the states of Nebraska and South Dakota; on the south by Goshen and Platte counties and on the west by Converse County, from which it was taken. The surface is a rolling plain, sloping toward the east. The northern part is watered by the Cheyenne River and its affluents, one of which is composed of three streams, viz.: Crazy Woman Creek, Old Woman Creek and Young Woman Creek. In the southern part is the Niobrara, from which the county derives its name.
The territory of which Niobrara Countv is composed originally belonged to the Sioux, Northern Arapaho and Cheyenne Indians. Their title was extinguished by agreement with representatives of the United States on September 26, 1876. About that time the rush to the gold fields of the Black Hills was at its height and a stage line was opened from Cheyenne to the mines, passing through what is now Niobrara County. Many of the Indians were dissatisfied with the relinquishment of their lands to the paleface race and began committing depredations upon the stage line. One of these early tragedies occurred in what is now Niobrara County. Jake Harker was engaged in carrying the mail from the stage station on Hat Creek to Camp Robinson. On one trip he failed to return with the mail and a searching party was sent out to ascertain what had become of him. His dead body was found and the fact that his scalp was missing told the story of another Indian depredation. The mail sack was also found cut open and the letters scattered around Barker's body.
That happened only a little over forty years ago. Men are still living in Wyoming who can recall the stirring events of those early days and relate the changes that they have witnessed. Niobrara County is now the home of hundreds of dry farmers, who raise abundant crops of wheat, oats, potatoes and small fruits. Stock raising is the most important industry. According to the state auditor's report for 1916, there were then in the county 30.000 head of cattle, 51,452 sheep and 8,803 horses, the total value of live stock being nearly two millions of dollars.
The Chicago & Northwestern Railroad runs through the southern part of the county along the Niobrara River, with stations at Lusk (the county seat). Van Tassel, Manville, Jireh and Keeline. Large numbers of sheep and cattle are shipped from those places every year. Niobrara has a good public school system and at Jireh is a college that offers opportunities to the young people to acquire a higher education than that afforded by the common schools. Oil was discovered in the county in 1917 and the fields are being rapidly developed.
In 1915 the population was 3,488, and in 1917 the property was assessed for tax purposes at $6,463,414. The increase in the valuation over the assessment of 1916 was a little over twenty per cent, only two counties in the state showing a greater ratio of increase than Niobrara, which in 1918 stood seventeenth in population and eighteenth in wealth, when compared with the other counties of Wyoming.
| The history of Park County as a separate subdivision of Wyoming begins on Februarv 15, 1909. when Governor Brooks approved an act of the Legislature creating the county with the following boundaries:|
"Beginning at a point where the north boundary line of the state intersects the thirty-third meridian of longitude west from Washington: running thence south along said meridian to its intersection with the crest of the Rocky Mountains or Continental Divide, separating the waters of the Yellowstone and Snake rivers; thence in a southeasterly direction along the crest of said divide to its intersection with the eleventh standard parallel north; thence east along the said standard parallel to its intersection with the crest of the mountain range separating the waters of Wind River on the south from the waters of Greybull and Wood rivers on the north; thence along the crest of said divide between the waters of the last named streams and the crest of the divide between the waters of Wind River on the south and the waters of Grass Creek and Owl Creek on the north, to a point on the crest of the said last named divide at the head of the south fork of Owl Creek; thence down said Owl Creek along the north boundary of the Wind River or Shoshone Indian Reservation to its intersection with the south boundary of township 44 north, range 103 west; thence east along said township boundary to its intersection with the thirty-second meridian of longitude west from Washington; thence north on said thirty-second meridian of longitude west from Washington to its intersection with the township line between townships 45 and 46 north; thence east along said township line to its intersection with the range line between ranges 100 and loi west; thence north along said range line to its intersection with the township line between townships 46 and 47 north; thence east along said township line to its intersection with the range line between ranges 99 and 100 west; thence north along said range line to its inter section with the township line between townships 47 and 48 north; thence east along said township line to its intersection with the range hne between ranges 97 and 98 west; thence north along the range line between ranges 97 and 98 and its offsets to its intersection with the forty-fifth parallel of north latitude, being the north boundary line of the State of Wyoming; thence west along said forty-fifth parallel of north latitude to the place of beginning."
When Hot Springs County was created on February 9, 1911, a portion of Park was taken to form the new county. As at present constituted, Park County is bounded on the north by the State of Montana; on the west by the Yellowstone National Park and Lincoln County; on the south by the counties of Fremont and Hot Springs; and on the east by Bighorn and Washakie counties. The county received its name from the fact that it adjoins the Yellowstone National Park. Its area is about five thousand four hundred square miles, much of which is mountainous, but well adapted to grazing. Consequently, stock raising is the leading industry. The state auditor's report issued in 1916 gives the number of cattle in Park County as 22,485; sheep, 112,647; horses, 7,084; and the assessed valuation of these animals as $1,427,461.
A large percentage of the agricultural land in the county is under irrigation and since the beginning of the present century there has been an almost marvelous increase in the number of new settlers. The county is drained by the Greybull, Shoshone and Clark's Fork, all of which flow in a northeasterly direction and are fed by numerous smaller streams.
Coal is found generally throughout the Big Horn Basin, a large part of which lies within the limits of Park County, in veins varying from six to thirty feet in thickness. Many of the farmers obtain their fuel from the outcropping of these coal veins near their land, the only cost being the digging and hauling. There is no doubt coal enough in Park County to supply the State of Wyoming for generations to come. Oil has been found near Cody and at some other places, and is pronounced by geologists to be of a very superior quality. In the Kerwin and Sunlight districts, gold, copper and silver ores are found, some of which have been developed, and on the north fork of the Shoshone River there are large deposits of sulphur. Other minerals, such as mica, gypsum, building stone and asphalt, are known to exist in large quantities and some day, when better transportation facilities are provided, all this mineral wealth will be given to the world. At the present time (1918) there are but forty-eight miles of railroad in the county–the branch of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy that leaves the main line at Frannie and has its western terminus at Cody.
Park County was organized in the spring of 1911 by the election of the following county officers: W. H. Fouse, A. J. Martin and W. A. Kepford. county commissioners; Fred C. Barnett, county clerk; Henry Dahlem, sheriff; G. A. Holm, treasurer; W. L. Walls, county attorney; George Hurlbut, surveyor; Jessie Hitchcock, superintendent of schools. The same year a courthouse was completed, at a cost of $45,000.
In 1915 the population was 5,473, an increase of 564 during the preceding five years, and in 1917 the assessed valuation of property was $8,330,187, an increase of $1,148,784 over the assessment of 1916. In population Park is the tenth county of the state, and in wealth the thirteenth.
| This county, originally a part of Laramie, is situated in the southeastern part of the state and takes its name from the North Platte River, which flows through the northern portion. It was created by an act of the Legislature, approved by Governor Carey on February 9, 1911. The boundaries as fixed by that act are as follows:|
"Beginning at a point in the western boundary line of Laram'e County, at its intersection with the boundary line between Laramie County and Converse County; thence south along said county line to its intersection with the township line between townships 19 and 20 north ; thence east along said township line to its intersection with the section line between sections 33 and 34 in township 20 north, range 65 west of the sixth principal meridian; thence north along the middle section line of range 65 to its intersection with the north boundary line of Laramie County; thence west along said county boundary line to the place of beginning."
The boundaries as established by the act erecting the county are the same as at the present time, hence Platte County is a rectangle thirty-three miles wide by sixty-six miles long, with an area of 2,178 square miles, most of which is capable of cultivation. It is bounded on the north by Converse and Niobrara counties; on the east by Goshen County; on the south by Laramie County; and on the west by the counties of Albany and Converse.
The first settlements were made while Platte was still a part of Laramie County. Among the early settlers were: Alexander Swan, who has already been mentioned in connection with Laramie County; T. M. Whitney, George Mitchell, John and Thomas Hunton, Isaac Bettleyoun, Herbert Whitney, Alexander Bowie. Posey Ryan, F. N. Shiek and Harry Yount, the noted scout and bear hunter, all of whom located in the county in the early '70s. In the Wheat-land irrigated district some of the first farmers were: H. E. Wheeler, L. S. Harrison, Oscar and John Nelson, Charles Wilson, S. V. Moody and C. A. Morrison.
Although created in February, 1911, Platte was not fully organized until the fall of 1912. In November of that year the following county officers were elected: George D. McDougall, county clerk; Owen Carroll, sheriff; Guy S. Agnew, treasurer; C. A. Paige, prosecuting attorney: Joseph A. Elliott, surveyor; D. B. Rig-don, coroner; Millard F. Coleman, W. H. Ralston and Lee Moore, county commissioners; Mary Maloney, superintendent of schools. Early in 191S Platte County completed one of the best appointed courthouses in the state, the cost of the building and furniture amounting to $85,000.
The famous Sunrise iron mines located in this county are described in the chapter on Mineral Resources. The Hartville district, in which these mines are situated, has other valuable mineral deposits, including some very rich veins of copper.
Stock raising is the principal industry. According to the state auditor's report for 1916, there were in the county 29,337 cattle, 37,468 sheep, 7,260 horses and 2,749 hogs. The value of these animals was given as $1,450,651. The waters of the Sibylee and Laramie rivers have been utilized for irrigation, with the result that there are many fine and productive farms in the county. In 1915 there were 272,439 acres of improved land, valued at $3,558,420, only six counties in the state reporting a greater valuation of farming lands.
Platte County is well provided with railroads. The Chicago, Burlington & Ouincy follows the Platte River across the northern part, and the Colorado & Southern traverses the county north and south, connecting with the Burlington at Wendover. A short line of railroad called the Colorado & Wyoming connects the mining districts about fronton and Sunrise with the main lines of railway.
In 1915 the population of the county was 5,277, and in 1917 the assessed valuation of the property was $10,816,282. These figures place Platte twelfth in populaton and ninth in wealth of the twenty-one counties of the state.
| Lying along the northern border of the state, immediately east of the Big Horn Mountains, is Sheridan County, so named in honor of Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, the dashing cavalry commander in the Union army during the Civil war and in the campaigns against the Indians in the Northwest. It is one of three counties created by the Legislature of 1888 in a bill passed over Governor Moonlight's veto, the other two being Converse and Natrona. Its original boundaries as described in the act were as follows:|
"Commencing at the northwest corner of Crook (now Campbell) County in said Territory of Wyoming; thence running south along the western boundary of said Crook (Campbell) County to a point three miles north of the thirteenth standard parallel; thence west along a line three miles north of and parallel to said thirteenth standard parallel to its intersection with the center of the channel of the Big Horn River; thence northerly down the center of the channel of the said river to the northern boundary line of the Territory of Wyoming; thence easterly along said boundary line to the place of beginning, being all that portion of the present County of Johnson, Territory of Wyoming, lying north of a line three miles north of, and parallel to, the said thirteenth standard parallel north."
When Bighorn County was created by the act of March 12, 1890, that portion of Sheridan County lying west of the Big Horn Mountains was added to the new county, reducing Sheridan to its present dimensions. From east to west the average length of the county is about eighty-five miles, and from north to south it is thirty miles in width, giv'ng it an area of 2,575 square miles. The county is well watered by the Little Big Horn, the Tongue and Powder rivers and their numerous tributary creeks, nearly half a million acres of land being capable of irrigation, and as much more well adapted to dry farming, while the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains afiford excellent grazing fields for live stock.
The great resources of the county are in farmmg, stock raising and coal mining. In 1916 the county reported 48,107 cattle, 50,955 sheep, 9,148 horses and 4,870 hogs, the total assessed value of the live stock being $2,141,244. Sheridan reported more hogs than any other county in the state and stood second in the number of cattle.
Mining experts assert that practically the entire county is underlain by coal deposits, and mines have been opened at Dietz. Monarch, Carneyville, Kooi, Acme and a few other points, and the coal is shipped to almost every state west of the Missouri River. In many places the settlers obtain their coal at the outcroppings near their farms and ranches. Some oil is also produced in the county, and indications of gold, copper, etc., have been noted in the western part, where some attempts have been made to develop mines. Iron ore, gypsum, graphite, talc, building and lithograph stone and a fine quality of cement rock exist in large quantities in various parts of the county.
Sheridan is rich in natural scenery. Cloud Peak, one of the most lofty mountains of the Big Horn range, rises to a height of almost thirteen thousand feet above sea level. Upon its sides can be seen the great glaciers of snow and ice, rivaling in p'cturesqueness the famous Swiss Alps. Goose Creek Valley, near Sheridan, with an altitude of 3,700 feet, with its precipitous banks and limpid pools, its waterfalls and sportive trout, offers to the tourist and sportsman inducements to enjoy himself among its scenic beauties and "cast flies."
The first election for county officers was held on Monday, May 7, 1888. Marion C. Harris. William E. Jackson and Peter Reynolds were elected county commissioners; Thomas J. Kusel, sheriff; Frank McCoy, county clerk; James P. Robinson, treasurer; William J. Stover, county attorney; Jack Dow, surveyor; Pulaski Calvert, assessor; Richard McGrath, superintendent of schools. In 1905 the county completed a handsome and commodious courthouse, at a cost of $70,000.
Among the early settlers of Sheridan County may be mentioned Henry A. Coffeen, who was elected to represent the state in Congress in 1892; O. P. Hanna, the well known scout; L. C. Tidball. speaker of the House in the Second State Legislature; James Lobban, John Loucks, George Brundage, Frank Martin. M. L. Sawin, D. T. Hillman and J. D. Adams.
Sheridan, the county seat and second city of the state, is centrally located, on the line of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad system that runs from Lincoln, Neb., to Billings, Mont. At Clearmont the Wyoming Railroad connects with this line and runs to Buffalo. Altogether there are about one hundred and ten miles of railroad in the county, so that Sheridan is better provided with means of transportation than some of her sister counties. Other towns of importance are Carneyville, Clearmont, Dayton, Dietz, Kooi, Monarch, Parkman and Ranchester.
In 1915 the population was 15,429 and in 1917 the assessed valuation was $21,203,057. It is the second populous county of Wyoming and stands third in wealth.
| The County of Sweetwater, one of the largest in the state, is situated in the southwestern part. On the north it is bounded by Fremont County; on the east by Carbon County; on the south by the states of Colorado and Utah; and on the west by Lincoln and Uinta counties. According to Rand-McNally's Atlas, the area is 10,500 square miles.|
Gold was discovered near the South Pass in the summer of 1867 and within a few weeks several hundred miners had located claims near the northern boundary of the present Sweetwater County. Among these pioneers were: Noyes Baldwin. Frank Marshall. Harrv Hubbell and others, who are given more extended mention in connection with the history of Fremont County. Toward the fall of 1867 (the exact date cannot be ascertained), these miners, in order to have some form of local government, organized a county, which they named "Carter," in honor of W. A. Carter, of Fort Bridger, who was elected probate judge. Harry Hubbell was chosen recorder and John Murphy, sheriff. These were the most important offices at that time–the recorder to keep track of the location and boundaries of mining claims, and the sheriff to preserve order among the lawless and turbulent individuals that so frequently are among the first comers to a new gold field. Carter County was legally organized by the Dakota Legislature by an act approved on December 27, 1867. This act fixed the western boundary of Carter County at the thirty-third meridian of longitude west from Washington, and the territory embraced extended eastward 2½ degrees.
Early in the year 1868 a company of Mormons came from Salt Lake City and settled about the headwaters of the Sweetwater River. Among them were H. A. Thompson, J. F. Staples, James Leffingwell. Moses Sturman, John Holbrook, Christopher Weaver, Frank McGovern and Jeff Standifer, some of whom remained but a short time and others became permanent settlers. Another pioneer was Samuel Fairfield, who was born in New Hampshire in 1836. He came to Wyoming soon after the discovery of gold at the South Pass, built three sawmills, one of which he sold to the Government, and in connection with James A. McAvoy opened the road from the Town of Lander to the timbered lands on the Popo Agie River. In 1880 he removed to Rawlins and in 1883 to Colorado.
In the spring of 1869 the Territorial Government of Wyoming went into operation and the first Legislature met on the 12th of the following October. Among the acts passed by that Legislature was the following, to take effect on December 13, 1869:
"Section 1. That all that portion of the Territory of Wyoming erected into the County of Carter by an act of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Dakota, approved December 27, 1867, and bounded as follows: Beginning at the forty-fifth parallel of latitude where the thirty-third meridian of longitude crosses the said parallel of latitude; thence south along said meridian, being the eastern line of Uinta County, to the forty-first parallel of latitude, being the southern,boundary of the territory: thence east along the said southern boundary to a point 30° 30' west from Washington; thence north along said meridian of 30° 30' to the forty-fifth parallel of latitude, to a point 30° 30' west from Washington ; thence west along said forty-fifth parallel to the place of beginning, shall be and constitute a county by the name of Sweetwater: Provided, that the eastern line of said county shall be deemed to nm one-fourth of one mile west of Separation station upon the Union Pacific Railroad until a Government or Territorial survey shall prove said station to be west of the said east line. The county seat of Sweetwater County shall be located at South Pass City until removed according to law.
"Section 2. The following officers are hereby appointed for said County of Sweetwater, who, after being qualified, shall hold their offices until the next general election, and until their successors are elected and qualified: For county commissioners, W. C. Erwin, of South Pass City. James A. Brennan, of Atlantic City, and John Dugdale, of Hamilton City; for judge of probate. T. Quinn; for sheriff. John McGlinchy; for county clerk, Tim McCarthy ; for prosecuting attorney, P. L. Williams; for county assessor, Henry Smith; for county superintendent of schools, Frank Oilman; for county surveyor, William Smith, of South Pass City; for justices of the peace for South Pass precinct, James W. Stillman and Presley J. Talbot; for constable in said precinct, James Smith; for justice of the peace for Atlantic City, Edward Lawn; for constable in said Atlantic City precinct, W. Hagan; for justice of the peace at Bryan precinct, William Grinnell; for constable in said precinct, ; for justice of the peace at Point of Rocks precinct, ; for constable in said precinct, ."
The act further provided that the sheriff of Carter County should "retain and serve, or execute and return to the proper court or judge, all papers relating to said county, up to and including the 11th day of December, 1869," and that on the 13th the county officers of Carter County should turn over all papers, records, dockets, etc., to the officers named in Section 2 of the above act. The county was named for the Sweetwater River, but with the erection of Fremont County in 1884, this name lost its significance as applied to Sweetwater County.
As established by the first Territorial Legislature of Wyoming, the County of Sweetwater extended from the northern to the southern boundary of the territory. It included the present counties of Sweetwater. Fremont. Hot Springs and Park, the greater part of Bighorn and Washakie, the west end of Sheridan, and the southwestern part of Carbon. By an act of the Wyoming Legislature, approved on December 9, 1873, the county seat was removed from South Pass City to Green River, which place was to remain the county seat "unless it be removed by vote of the people at the next general election." As it was not removed by vote of the people at the election specified, it still remains the seat of justice.
Topographically, the surface of Sweetwater County is composed of extensive plateaus or ranges, from which mountainous elevations rise in different parts. Near the center of the northern boundary the Continental Divide extends for some distance into the county. Farther south are the Aspen and Table mountains, and in the southwestern part are the Bad Lands Hills. There are also "isolated peaks here and there, such as Essex Mountain, North Pilot Butte, Table Rock, Steamboat Mountain, Centennial Peak, etc. The Green River is the principal stream. It enters the county from the west about twenty miles south of the northwest corner and flows in a southeasterly direction into Utah. There are numerous smaller streams and lakes which afford abundant water for reclamation purposes.
The Great Divide Basin, in the northeastern part, and the district known as the "Red Desert" afford excellent grazing grounds for sheep and cattle and live stock raising is a prominent industry. Twenty-five or thirty years ago the Red Desert was thought to be practically worthless, but stock men have discovered that sheep can thrive during the winter on the grasses of these plains with only snow for moisture. In 1915 the county reported 322.751 sheep, valued at $1,077,456. Sweetwater is preeminently a sheep county, as in that year only 4,552 cattle were returned for taxation.
In the way of mineral resources, Sweetwater is noted for its immense deposits of coal. Geologists have estimated the amount of coal in the Rock Springs field, between the Aspen and Table mountains, at eight hundred million tons, lying in veins from eight to twenty feet in thickness. Rock Springs coal is known in every state from the Mississippi River to the Pacific coast. Over two million tons are taken annually from the mines at Rock Springs, Superior, Gunn, Reliance and adjacent mining camps. Spurs of railroad have been built by the Union Pacific Railroad Company to the mines to facilitate the shipping of coal. This company has 164 miles of railroad in Sweetwater County. The main line crosses the county from east to west near the center and most of the towns in the county are located along the line of railway. At Granger, in the western part, the Oregon Short Line connects with the Union Pacific and runs in a northwesterly direction into Lincoln County.
In 1915 the population of Sweetwater was 10,642, and in 1917 the property in the county was valued for tax purposes at $21,935,562. Only one county (Laramie) reported a larger valuation of property, and three counties a larger population.
| Uinta County, located in the extreme southwest corner of the state, is one of the counties created by the first Territorial Legislature, the act having been approved by Governor Campbell on December 1, 1869. The boundaries as described in that act were as follows:|
"Commencing at the intersection of the forty-first parallel of latitude and the thirty-third meridian of longitude west from Washington; running thence north along said thirty-third meridian of longitude to its intersection with the forty-fifth parallel of latitude; thence west along said forty-fifth parallel of latitude to its intersection with the thirty-fourth meridian of longitude west from Washington ; thence south along said thirty-fourth meridian to its intersection with the forty-first parallel of latitude; thence east along said parallel to the place of beginning."
By tracing these boundaries upon a map of Wyoming, it will be seen that Uinta County originally included the present county of that name, Lincoln County and the Yellowstone National Park. The Yellowstone National Park* was set ofT by an act of Congress, approved on March 1, 1872, and Lincoln County was cut off in 1911, reducing Uinta to its present dimensions. Its area is now a little over two thousand square miles. The territory comprising Uinta and Lincoln counties was taken from Utah and Idaho when the Territory of Wyoming was created to straighten the western boundary.
Under the provisions of the act creating the county, the county seat was located at Merrill, until the voters should select a permanent seat of justice at the general election on September 6, 1870. At the election Evanston was chosen by a majority of the voters for county seat and the Town of Merrill, which was located near old Fort Bridger, afterward disappeared from the map.
The county officers appointed by the Legislature of 1869 were: W. A. Carter, probate judge and treasurer; J. Van A. Carter, clerk; R. H. Hamilton, sheriff; E. S. Jacobs, superintendent of schools. These officials served until the election of September 6, 1870, when Jesse L. Atkinson, J. Van A. Carter and Russell Thorpe were elected county commissioners; Lewis P. Scott, clerk; Harvey Booth, sheriff; W. A. Carter, probate judge and treasurer; E. S. Jacobs, superintendent of schools.
One of the oldest settlements in Wyoming was made in this county in 1853. when a company of fifty-five Mormons, led by Isaac Bullock and John Nebeker came from Utah and located near old Fort Bridger. on Black's Fork of the Green River. In 1868 Moses Byrn and a man named Guild located claims on Muddy Creek, about half way between Evanston and Fort Bridger. Jesse L. Atkinson, one of the first county commissioners, was born in Nova Scotia in 1830, and came to Uinta County in the spring of 1870. For some time he was engaged in lumbering, obtaining his supply of timber in the Uinta Mountains. After a residence in the county for a few years he went to Colorado, where he became associated with Benjamin Majors in the cattle business and accumulated a fortune.
Coal was discovered about two miles west of the site of Evanston in the summer of 1868. The first mine was opened the following year, and in 1870 the Rocky Mountain Coal and Iron Company was formed, with headquarters at Almy. In 1871 Newell Beeman, a native of Ontario County, New York, came to Almy as bookkeeper for the Rocky Mountain Coal and Iron Company, being at that time about thirty-seven years of age. Two years later he was made superintendent of the company. Mr. Beeman also became an active participant in county affairs. In 1874 he was elected county commissioner and held the office for three successive terms; was for a time one of the school trustees, and he served as a member of the republican central territorial committee.
On December 13, 1873, Governor Campbell approved an act of the Legislature authorizing the commissioners of Uinta County to erect a courthouse and jail at Evanston, to cost not more than twenty-five thousand dollars, and to issue bonds for that amount, "or so much thereof as may be necessary," to pay for the same, the bonds to bear interest at not more than 12 per cent per annum.
The principal industries are farming, stock raising and coal mining. Although the lowest altitude is 5,000 feet, the farmers raise abundant crops of winter wheat, hay, alfalfa, potatoes, oats and barley, in fact all of the agricultural products that can be grown at an altitude of 7,000 feet or more. The Bear River, Black's Fork of the Green River, Muddy Creek and their tributaries afford plenty of water for irrigation, though dry farming is carried on in some districts. In the higher altitudes there is an abundance of native grasses where live stock thrive the greater part of the year without feeding. In 1915 Uinta reported 14,956 cattle, 83,195 sheep and 2,972 horses, the assessed valuation of these animals being $890,244.
Besides the great coal mining interests, oil has been discovered, and there are found in the county various other minerals, including gold, copper and phosphates, though the deposits are either untouched or only partially developed.
The main line of the Union Pacific Railroad enters the county near the northeast corner and runs in a southwesterly direction, crossing the western boundary about twenty miles north of the southern boundary of the state. The principal railroad stations are Evanston, Almy, Antelope. Carter, Chelsea: Bridger and Springvalley. Almy is the terminus of a short spur of railroad that connects with the main line at Almy Junction, about three miles west of Evanston.
In 1915 the population of the county was given in the state census reports as 6,051, and the assessed valuation of property in 1917 was $9,418,068. Although one of the smallest counties in the state in area, Uinta stands ninth in population and eleventh in wealth.
| On February 9, 1911, Gov. Joseph M. Carey affixed his signature to the bill creating the County of Washakie. A glance at a map of the state shows a zigzag boundary line between Washakie and Hot Springs counties. To describe this line in the technical and legal phraseology of the act is deemed unnecessary in this description of the county. Suffice it to say that the county is bounded on the north by Bighorn County; on the east by Johnson County; on the south by Natrona and Fremont counties; and on the west by the counties of Park and Hot Springs. Its area is about twenty-two hundred square miles and it derives its name from Washakie, chief of the Shoshone Indians and a firm friend of the white man in the early days of Wyoming's history. On April 18, 1911, the commissioners appointed by Governor Carey to organize the county entered upon their duties. The first election of officers occurred in November, 1912, and the officers then elected went into office on the first Monday in January, 1913.|
Washakie is one of the three small counties of the state. Its surface is a combination of mountains, plains, bad lands and rich agricultural valleys. Along the No Wood, Ten Sleep, Spring and Otter Creeks, and other small streams of the county, the old-time ranchmen live, depending more upon their herds of sheep and cattle than on farming for their living. In 1915 the county reported 11,566 cattle, 90,971 sheep, 4,963 horses and 2,000 hogs, the total assessed value of live stock being $1,469,107.
In October, 1917, the first oil well was sunk in the Washakie Bad Lands. It turned out to be a gas well, with a flow of 8,000,000 cubic feet daily, obtained at a depth of 1,065 feet Since then several oil companies have been "prospecting" in the county, a number of wells have been drilled and oil of excellent quality has been found. This is but another instance of wealth being obtained from Wyoming's lands formerly considered worthless.
The Denver & Billings division of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railway system passes through the county a little west of the center. Worland, the county seat, is on this line of railroad. Other railroad stations are Durkee, Colter, Neiber and Chatham.
In 1915 the population of Washakie was 1,744, and in 1917 the property was valued for tax purposes at $4,188,332. In both respects the county shows the lowest figures of any in the state, but it should be remembered that it was one of the last counties to be organized, that it is small in area, and that the territory of which it is composed remained in the possession of the Indians for years after some of the older counties of Wyoming were settled. The county is rapidly "coming to the front," however, farm lands selling from fifty to seventy-five dollars per acre. These lands produce good crops of wheat, oats, barley, alfalfa, sugar beets and emmer–a grain that is coming into use as a breakfast food.
| Weston County is situated on the eastern border of the state. It is bounded on the north by Crook County; on the east by the State of South Dakota; on the south by Niobrara and Converse counties; and on the west by the County of Campbell. The county is almost square, with an area of a little less than twenty-five hundred square miles. It was originally a part of Laramie County, but was included in Crook County when the latter was established in 1875. On March 12, 1890, Governor Warren approved an act passed by the last Territorial Legislature of Wyoming creating the County of Weston, to wit:|
"All that portion of Wyoming Territory bounded and described in this section set forth, is hereby created and made a county of the Territory of Wyoming, under the name of Weston County, to wit: Commencing at a point on the east boundary of the Territory of Wyoming where the twelfth standard parallel north intersects the east boundary line of Wyoming Territory; thence running west along said twelfth standard parallel north to the one hundred and sixth meridian of longitude west from Greenwich; thence south along said meridian line to the line of 43° 30' north latitude; thence east along said latitude to the east boundary of said territory; thence north along said east boundary line of said territory to the place of beginning."
The new county was made a part of the First Judicial District and was attached to the County of Crook for legislative purposes until it should be fully organized. The county seat was established at Newcastle, in the eastern part of the county. The surface is a rolling plain, well watered by the Black Thunder and Beaver creeks and the tributary streams of the Belle Fourche River, which just touches the northwest corner. These streams provide sufficient water for irrigation, though but little of it has so far been utilized for that purpose. The principal industry of the county is stock raising. In 1915 Weston reported 26,493 cattle, 35,548 sheep and 6,873 horses, the total value of these animals being given as $1,469,107.
Coal has been discovered in large deposits in the eastern part, the Cambria field being one of the most productive in the state. These mines are at the terminus of a spur of railroad which connects with the main line of the Lincoln & Billings division of the Chicago, Burlington & Ouincy system at Newcastle. The principal railway stations are Upton, Newcastle, Spencer, Owens. Clifton and Dakoming.
In 1915 the population of Weston was 4,414 and in 1917 the assessed valuation of property was $6,515,346, placing the county fifteenth in population and seventeenth in wealth when compared with the other twenty counties of the state.