The final Wyoming Territorial Legislative Assembly created Weston County in March 1890. Thirty years later, the discovery of oil at Osage, Wyo., halfway between the county seat of Newcastle and the small town of Upton, led to a number of cyclical economic booms and busts. Today, the county’s industries include agriculture and oil refining.
Cities, Towns & Counties
Browse Articles about Cities, Towns & Counties
|Johnson County, Wyoming||Brodie Farquhar|
|K-N Energy, Casper Star-Tribune and||Kerry Drake|
|Kirwin Inspired Dreams of Prosperity, Solitude||Lori Van Pelt|
|Kirwin, Wyo.||Lori Van Pelt|
|Laramie County, Wyoming||Marguerite Herman|
|Laramie, Wyo., history of||Kim Viner|
|Lincoln County, Wyoming||Jessica Clark|
|MacKinnon, Anne, Casper Star-Tribune reporter and editor||Kerry Drake|
|Marbleton, Wyoming||Ann Chambers Noble|
|Mormon Colonizers, Bighorn Basin||Darcee Barnes|
Cities, Towns & Counties
White settlement in Sublette County, Wyo. traces its roots to the late 1870s, when cattlemen brought herds to the pastures where North, Middle and Piney Creeks join the Green River. The town of Big Piney was incorporated there in 1913. The next year, neighboring Marbleton was incorporated a mile away, on higher ground on the bench above Piney Creek. Every effort to combine the two towns has failed, and they continue to maintain separate governments though they share most other services. The energy industry is now the major employer in both communities. Big Piney registered a population of 552 in the 2010 census, and Marbleton, 1,094.
Newcastle, Wyo., on the edge of the Black Hills, was founded in 1889 when the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad arrived in northeastern Wyoming. Newcastle sprang up where a spur left the main line of the Burlington to head seven miles northwest to the coal mines at Cambria. The Burlington –now, after its merger with the Santa Fe Railroad, the BNSF—is still a major employer, along with a local oil refinery, hospital and school district, and businesses that serve tourists.
Upton, Wyo., known originally as Irontown or Iron City, and later as Merino, began in 1890 as a Burlington Railroad depot near a set of sheep corrals. The town was not incorporated until 1909. The Burlington’s successor, the BNSF, remains an important employer today, as do the school district and a clinic operated by Weston County Health Services.
The Historic Elk Mountain Hotel, built in 1905 by John Evans, is located beside the Medicine Bow River, a place where Overland Trail travelers made crossings during their journeys west. In the 1940s and 1950s, the hotel’s Garden Spot Pavilion became well-known for its springy dance floor and for the many big-name musicians like Hank Thompson and Louis Armstrong who played there. The hotel underwent extensive renovation in the early years of this century, and the pavilion was demolished. Guests today enjoy modern conveniences, private baths and a dining room.
Toomey’s Mills in Newcastle, Wyo., began operations as Newcastle Milling Company and Electrical Light Plant in 1905, producing flour by day and generating electricity at night. In 1919, D. J. Toomey purchased the business and it remained in the family until 1965. In 1974, new owners converted it into a restaurant, the Old Mill Inn. In 1995, current owners, Doug and Larita Brown bought the property, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, in 1995.
The Greybull Hotel, built in 1916, was the first and largest of its kind in downtown Greybull, Wyo., to be constructed with brick and concrete. Its main commercial space has served as a bank, a clothing store and a bar; during Prohibition there was a speakeasy in the basement. The hotel’s location--at the corner of Greybull Avenue and Sixth Street and at the intersection of Wyoming Highway 14 and Wyoming Highway 16/20—was of primary importance in the early days and remains so today.
The Hotel LaBonte opened in January 1914 in downtown Douglas, Wyo. Its purpose was to serve area ranchers, participants in county courthouse sessions and travelers on the Yellowstone Highway, and the hotel was created in the finest and most luxurious style of the day. The rooms had electric lights, steam heat and hot and cold running water. The structure was named for the LaBonte Pony Express and stage station on the Oregon Trail.
The Hyart Theatre in Lovell, Wyo., opened in 1951. The owner, Hyrum “Hy” Bischoff, used creative designs that were in fashion at the time. He included a curved screen for CinemaScope movies and stereophonic sound in the theater, which contained 1,001 upholstered seats. The Hyart also has a unique façade. The Bischoff family owned and operated the theater until the early 1990s, when it was closed. Through the efforts of a local nonprofit group, the Hyart was reopened Nov. 13, 2004, and continues to delight moviegoers and serve as a place for local entertainers to stage performances.