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Fremont County, Wyoming


Fremont County administrative offices are located at 450 North 2nd Street, Lander, WY 82520; phone: 307-332-2405.

Beginnings [1]

The history of ranching and farming in Fremont County, Wyoming, is inextricably bound to the history of Euro-American settlement within the region that now encompasses Fremont County in the late nineteenth century. The three major catalysts for settlement were the Oregon Trail, which passed through the southern portion of Fremont County; the building of the first Transcontinental Railroad through southern Wyoming territory in 1867-68; and the discovery and development of gold deposits in the vicinity of South Pass in 1867-68. A secondary impetus for settlement was the creation of the Wind River Indian Reservation on the east flank of the Wind River Mountains in 1868. North-south transportation routes were soon established linking the South Pass gold fields and the reservation with the newly completed railroad. The pioneer stockmen of Fremont County consisted of two rather disparate groups. The first group consisted of the English and Scottish "cattle barons" who established large scale ranching enterprises, generally based along the Sweetwater River Valley. However, their cattle ranged as far north as Badwater Creek and the Copper Mountains. Many of these cattle barons were absentee owners who hired intermediaries to manage their properties. The second group of pioneer stockmen were the "jacks of all trades" who were first lured to the region by gold, working as miners, laborers, freighters, or merchants in the South Pass mines, and gradually evolved into stockmen. They often raised sheep as well as cattle and engaged in limited farming for basic food supply or to supplement their income. This group was more numerous and endured beyond the winter of 1886-86 that ruined many of the European interests. This group settled the Lander Valley and the Wind River Valley in addition to settling along the Sweetwater River and Beaver Creek. The east-central and north-eastern portions of Fremont County were generally settled at a later date because of the lack of year-round water sources.

  1. Robert G. Rosenberg, Historian, Rosenberg Historical Consultants, Qien Sabe Ranch, Shoshoni, Fremont County, WY, nomination document, 1991, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

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