Wyoming October 15, 2018
9 Tiny Towns In Wyoming Where HUGE Things Happened
It’s no surprise that Wyoming’s history has been written by happenings in small towns. After all – the vast majority of the state is made of land and towns with populations smaller than most East Coast high schools. Read more about some of the big, earth-shaking events that have come to pass in one of Wyoming’s small towns below.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. The Johnson County War Standoff at TA Ranch, Buffalo
Dr. William Harris, of Laramie, opened up the TA Ranch outside of Buffalo as a cattle operation, and the headed back into town to continue on with his life. Little did he know his ranch would be the site of an enormous standoff! In 1892, mercenaries were hired to hunt down cattle rustlers, but the locals didn't take kindly to the Big Cattle names trying to police their land. Local settlers and cowboys surrounded the TA Ranch, and almost 400 people were ready to take on the 50 "invaders". Eventually, the US Cavalry was called in to save the hired guns.
2. John Wesley Powell Set Off For The Colorado River, Green River
Powell set off from Expedition Island in Green River to explore the Colorado, and the Grand Canyon. Both his 1869, and 1871 adventures started in the woods of Green River. He explored and mapped the last great river basins that were waiting for discovery - the Green River and Colorado River.
3. JC Penney Founded, Kemmerer
J.C. Penney started his career working at dry goods stores, and eventually opened his own store in 1902 in Kemmerer, Wyoming. By 1924, they had 500 stores open throughout the country, and in 1928, they opened their 1,000th store. For generations, J.C. Penney was one of America's most well known department stores.
4. The Butch Cassidy Train Robbery, Wilcox
Wilcox is a small, unincorporated community that was the site of one of the most infamous train robberies of all time. Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch Gang detonated dynamite underneath the Union Pacific Trail traveling from Council Bluffs on June 2, 1899. They took more than $50,000 worth of cash and gold and escaped to the famous outlaw hideout, Hole In The Wall.
5. Sundance Kid Gets His Name, Sundance
Harry Alonzo Longabaugh was a Pennsylvania native who fled west at a young age with his cousin. In 1887, he stole a horse and gun from a ranch in Sundance, but he wa captured and jailed. Years before he came a crucial part of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch, Sundance Kid earned his name.
6. Miners Strike Gold In South Pass City
South Pass City developed quickly, thanks to the mountain pass for which it was named. It boomed as a telegraph stop along the Oregon Trail, and when a local mine struck gold, the town grew to a population of over 2,000 people before the mines fizzled out and travelers went on their way.
7. Dinosaurs Are Found, Thermopolis
Throughout the years, dinosaurs have been found at dig sites all throughout Thermopolis and the area! That's why the town is home to Wyoming's best dinosaur museum. You can actually go out on an active dig site adventure still -
read more about Digging for a Day here
8. The Nation's First Dude Ranch Established, Wolf
Tourism is a huge part of the Wyoming economy today, and allows us to enjoy the benefits of a low-tax state and a low cost of living! While the National Parks bring out millions of visitors each year, millions more head to Wyoming to experience the Cowboy Life. We can thank
for that - the Eatons opened up the first dude ranch in America, thus starting a tradition of a cowboy vacation.
9. Buffalo Bill Builds The Road To Yellowstone, Cody
When the town of Cody was founded, it was quite literally in the middle of nowhere. Buffalo Bill had a vision, though, of a wild west town where everyone would stay on their way to Yellowstone National Park. At the time, there wasn't an East Entrance to the park, and the only way in was from the south, or from Montana. Cody changed all of that when he built the Road to Yellowstone - a scenic route that's now one of the most popular ways to get to the America's first National Park.
What’s your favorite bit of Wyoming history from your own small town? Tell us your favorite local lore in the comments below.