The Story Behind This Sad Wyoming Ghost Town Is Different Than Most
Wyoming’s history was built on mining, so it’s no surprise that the state is dotted with ghost towns left over from the mining boom in the 1800s. However, there’s one little abandoned Wyoming town with a different story to tell.
Jeffrey City was a mining town that enjoyed a heyday shorter than most. What’s more, it wasn’t gold, silver, copper, or even coal that had people flocking from all over the country to settle here. The precious metal mined in Jeffrey posed a health risk that led residents to desert the small town.
On the plains of Fremont County, just south of the Oregon Trail, is the site of the ill-fated Jeffrey City.
In the late 1950s, a developer learned that the area held a rich deposit of uranium. He secured financing from an investor, Dr. C.W. Jeffrey, and opened up mining operations. The little city that sprang up on the spot was named for the investor who made it all possible.
The city grew fast. Streets were built, utilities were brought in, lots were plotted out, and homes built upon them.
Stores were built on the main street, and gas stations, churches, a medical clinic, and a library sprang up, too.
People were moving to Jeffrey so fast to fill the plentiful corporation jobs at the mine, that hotels had to quickly be built to house workers and their families while their homes were being constructed.
One lone motel is still open in Jeffrey, giving weary travelers a place to stay on long trips across the state.
Schools were built, as well, and the high school was even equipped with an Olympic-sized swimming pool. By the end of the 1970s, nearly 4,500 lived in Jeffrey City, and most of the jobs people held were connected to the mine.
Just as things were booming, however, everything collapsed. When concerns were raised about the safety of using uranium for energy, the uranium industry began to falter.
By 1982, the mine in Jeffrey City closed and, with no lucrative job options for hundreds of miles, people began moving out. Within 3 years, 95% of the residents were gone.
Today, Jeffrey City is a ghost town much different than others you can visit across the state. Rather than quaint homestead cabins, you'll see abandoned split-level homes and trailer houses, weathered and rusting.
The discovery of radiation in many of the homes in Jeffrey sealed the deal, sending the majority of the population packing.
Many homes and businesses barely broke ground before the city's boom went bust, leaving ruins of unfinished buildings along with fully constructed ones.
The shops, schools, and other buildings that were once a promising sign of hope for a successful future now sit boarded up, decaying and forgotten.
Walking the deserted, cracking asphalt streets of Jeffrey City definitely offers a different experience than touring other mining ghost towns in Wyoming.
Have you heard unique stories about other Wyoming ghost towns?