Wyoming Place Names

At the beginning of publication of the Wyoming Place Names series in the April 1942 Annals of Wyoming, readers were invited to send in corrections and additional material supplementing that contained in the files of the State Historical Department. While some responded, in order to insure complete satisfaction on the part of the Staff as to the authenticity of that presented and the remainder of the material to be published, it was felt arrangements should be made for further verification of it. Therefore, the names of towns were separated by county and a member of the State Historical Advisory Board in each county, or a historically minded citizen in counties where no Board member resided, was asked to verify the data submitted. While all lists have not been returned to date, the additions and corrections presented by the following persons have been arranged and are presented here : Struthers Burt (S. B.), Moran; Charles Oviatt (CO.), Sheridan; Fenimore Chatterton (F. C), Arvada, Colorado; Dr. Herbert O. Brayer (H. O. B.), Denver; Mae Cross (M. C), Piedmont; Hans Gautschi (H. G.), Lusk; Perry W. Jenkins (P. W. J.), Big Piney; Mrs. Dora McGrath (D. McG.), Thermopolis; Alfred J. Mokler (A. J. M.), Casper; Mrs. Minnie Reitz (M. R.), Wheatland: Russell Thorp (R. T.), Cheyenne; P. W. Spaulding (P. W. S.), Evanston.

BAIROIL, Sweetwater County. Named for Charles Bair, a prominent sheep man of Billings, Montana, who financed and promoted the first oil development in that district. R. T.1

BESSEMER, Natrona County. Established in 1888. At the first election in Natrona County in 1889, Bessemer was a candidate for the county seat. Six hundred sixty-seven votes were cast, but the county commissioners declared that more than three hundred of them were illegal and the vote of the entire precinct was thrown out. It is name not known.) A. J. M.

BIG PINEY, Sublette County. The names given to the three streams that empty into Green River within a few rods of each other were North Piney, Middle Piney and South Piney. North Piney, being the largest, was called Big Piney. The first post office was at the Mule Shoe Ranch near Green River but later was moved to the home of Daniel B. Budd on the bank of North Piney and was called Big Piney Post Office. This was followed by the town. The first settler was Ed Swan and Otto Leifer in 1878, followed by A. W. Smith and Daniel B. Budd in 1879. The post office dates from 1882. P. W. J.

BISHOP, Natrona County. Named for Marvin L. Bishop, an early day postmaster of Casper, who had his sheep-shearing pens at this point. A. J. M.

BUCKNUM, Natrona County. Named for Charles K. Bucknum, an early day mayor of Casper and owner of a sheep ranch near the railroad station where the town was established in 1905. A. J. M.

CAMBRIA, Weston County. Named by Kilpatrick Bros., railroad contractors, who constructed the Burlington Railroad through Wyoming and developed the first coal mine at Cambria on the Burlington in Wyoming. Named after Welch coal mines. R. T.

CASPER, Natrona County. The town was established in the early summer of 1888, and was named after Fort Caspar, a military post first established in 1858. The site of Fort Caspar was called Camp Platte from 1840 to 1847. When the Mormons passed through here in June 1847, they built and operated a ferry across the river, and then the name was changed to Mormon Ferry or Mormon Crossing. Louis Guinard built a bridge across the river at this point in the winter of 1858-59, and the name was then changed to Platte Bridge Station. Lieutenant Caspar W. Collins was killed by Indians near the fort on July 26, 1865, and in October of that year Major General Pope ordered the name changed to Fort Caspar. When the town of Casper was platted by the land department of the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad Company, the engineer, in the original plat, used an "e" in the last syllable instead of an "a". After many deeds for town lots and other important documents had been issued, all spelled with an "e", a request was made to have the spelling changed, but it was considered that the change would be too expensive. A. J. M.

DANIEL, Sublette County. Named for and by T. P. Daniel when the post office was located at his store on the present site in 1904. P. W. J.

DICKIE, Hot Springs County. Named for and established by David Dickie who was born in Scotland and came to Wyoming via New Zealand and San Francisco in 1884. He engaged in the sheep business along the Union Pacific Railroad until 1896 when the range became crowded and he started to British Columbia, driving his sheep to that region. He transferred his sheep across the ferry at the old town of Thermopolis and planned to next cross the bridge at Meeteetse. Instead, however, he purchased from Harry Gunther the L. U. Ranch, which had formerly been owned by Governor Baxter, and later added to his holdings. D. McG.

DIETZ, Sheridan County. Named for the Dietz brothers, Charles, Frank and Gould, who developed the Dietz coal mines on the Burlington Railroad in Sheridan County. R. T.

ELK MOUNTAIN, Carbon County. Named after Elk Mountain, the peak at the north end of the Medicine Bow Range and a few miles southwest of the town. F. C.

ENCAMPMENT, Carbon County. U. S. Troops, under the command of General Johnston, on their way to Salt Lake City were snowed in near this point and encamped there for a considerable time. The place was named Grand Encampment. F. C.

FORT BONNEVILLE, Sublette County. Fort Bonneville was built in 1832 by Captain B. L. E. Bonneville but was abandoned within a month when he moved to Salmon River for the winter. It was here that the Rendezvous of 1833 was held and the fort definitely described by W. A. Ferris in his journal. P. W. J.

HAT CREEK, Niobrara County. Named when a detachment of soldiers was sent to establish a fort on Warbonnet Creek in 1875. Thinking that they were on the right location when they got to Sage Creek, they built their dugout fort on the site of what became old Hat Creek Stage Station and Post Office and called it Hat Creek, short for Warbonnet. Warbonnet Creek is in Nebraska near the Wyoming line and the error appears obvious. H. G.

JACKSON, Teton County. Named for Jackson Lake which had been named for Captain David E. Jackson who was in the region with William L. Sublette in the early 1800's. S. B.

KNIGHT, Uinta County. Named by the Union Pacific Railroad in honor of Judge Jesse Knight, Judge of the Third Judicial District of Wyoming, who showed the railroad engineers how to change the line to avoid the very steep grade on Aspen Hill and the feasibility of the present Aspen Tunnel. F. C. and P. W. S.

NATRONA, Natrona County. So named because of the soda (natron) deposits near there. A. J. M.

OIL CITY, Natrona County. So named because of the drilling for oil in that vicinity in 1880 by S. A. Aggers who hailed from Oil City, Pennsylvania. A. J. M.

PIEDMONT, Uinta County. Means ''foot of the mountains" and was taken from the Italian language. P. W. S. and M. C.

PINEDALE, Sublette County. Named by Charles Peterson in 1899, when the first post office was opened at this place, for the pines along the stream. Pine Creek. The town was incorporated in 1912 and was made the county seat in June 1921. P. W. J.

POWDER RIVER, Natrona County. Named for a branch of the Powder River which in turn was named for the dark powder-like quick sand that is found along its banks and in the channel. A. J. M.

RESHAW, Natrona County. Named for John Reshaw, a Frenchman, who built the first bridge across the North Platte River in central Wyoming on the Old Oregon Trail. English pronunciation is Richards. A. J. M.

RIVERTON, Fremont County. In 1905 Mr. Fenimore Chatterton found that Montana was about to secure the right to divert all the water of the Big Horn River which would leave no water for reclamation of the 300,000 acres in the ceded portion of the Shoshone Indian Reservation. He immediately went to Washington and applied to the Secretary of the Interior Department for a permit to construct the necessary canals and reservoirs and to lay out a town site on the one hundred sixty acres where the town of Riverton is now located, all work to be done prior to opening the lands for settlement. He met with refusal, but when the lands were opened, the one hundred sixty acres designated by Mr. Chatterton were set aside as a town site. On August 14, 1906, the land was opened and persons who had previously located at Shoshone to await the day moved in and proceeded to survey and stake the blocks and lots. A group of Lander citizens opposed to the establishment of the town tried to stop the survey; not succeeding they induced the Indian Agent at Ft. Washakie, Mr. Wadsworth, to use U. S. Troops to run people off the town site. After ten days Mr. Chatterton had the matter straightened out through telegrams to Wyoming Senators, and the citizens returned. Meanwhile the Lander group asked that the town be called Central City and the Northwestern Railroad named its station Wadsworth. Authorities in Washington settled the question by naming the post office Riverton, as being significant of its location on the bank of the Wind River. F. C.

SARATOGA, Carbon County. Here are located the medicinal hot springs once used by the Indians. In the early 1870's William Caldwell homesteaded the land on which the springs are located, built a two room log cabin and a two tub bath house and became the postmaster of "Warm Springs." In 1883 Fenimore Chatterton, post trader at Fort Steele, established a general store at this point and a little later a town site was laid out on both sides of the North Platte River and named Saratoga after Saratoga Hot Springs, New York, to which the springs bore a similarity and because of the great popularity of the latter.2 F. C. and H. O. B.

SEMINOLE, Natrona County. Should be Seminoe. The name ''Seminoe" became attached to the Lajeunesse family from the fact that Basil Lajeunesse, father of Mitchell and Noel, married a Snake Indian woman, "Ciminau" by name. The whites pronounced it Seminoe, and the Seminoe Mountain derived its name from Ciminau-Basil Lajeunesse. (See Mokler's History of Fort Caspar, 1939, p. 16). A. J. M.

SHANNON, Natrona County. Named for P. M. Shannon, president of the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Company, the first company to develop the Salt Creek oil field. A. J. M.

SHERIDAN, Sheridan County. Named after General Philip A. Sheridan. C. O.

SNYDER, Natrona County. Named for Ora Snyder, first postmaster at that place. A. J. M.

SODIUM, Natrona County. Located at the Soda Lakes from which it derives its name. A. J. M.

STORY, Sheridan County. Named after C. P. Story, former real estate man in Sheridan who several times was elected mayor of his city and died in office in 1931. C. O. 2.

STROUDS, Natrona County. Named for Joshua Stroud who homesteaded on the land four miles east of Casper before the C. & W. R. R. was built into central Wyoming. A. J. M.

SUN, Natrona County. Located sixty miles southwest of Casper and named for Tom Sun who was among the first of the pioneers to homestead in the Sweetwater country. A. J. M.

SUNRISE, Platte County. Named by Lieutenant Eaton of Fort Laramie who, while inspecting copper deposits with John London and H. T. Miller, remarked that a rise over which they walked afforded a good view of the sunrise. M. R.

SWAN, Carbon County. Located just north of Saratoga and named for Will Swan, cattleman. Now a ''ghost town." H. O. B.

TENSLEEP, Washakie County. The name 'Tensleep" means ten sleeps from either the Platte or Yellowstone and refers to ten days' travel by the Indians. C. O.

THERMOPOLIS, Hot Springs County. Named by Dr. Julious Shulke and Joe McGill, the latter a student of languages, for its proximity to the hot springs and taken from the Greek words therme and polis meaning "heat and city." D. McG.

UVA, Platte County. Named for an early brand. M. R.

WALTMAN, Natrona County. Named for W. D. Waltman. A. J. M.

WAMSUTTER, Carbon County. Formerly called Washakie Station on the Union Pacific Railway, the name was changed in 1885 to Wamsutter in honor of an old Indian chief. The change was made because of the errors arising in the delivery of freight destined for Ft. Washakie. Taken from the Carbon County Journal, September 5, 1885.3

WOLTON, Natrona County. Named from the fact that it was the center of sheep shearing for this part of the state. A. J. M.

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Footnotes:
1. Persons who checked the lists of place names are given credit by placing their initials after each name explanation. Refer to names given in introduction above. Ed.
2. An item in the Cheyenne Daily Leader of June 23, 1882, states, "Mr. Caldwell of Warm Springs is in town... He says before long he intends to have the Warm Springs of Wyoming the Saratoga of the West."
3. Received from Mrs. Agnes Wright Spring.

Source: Annals of Wyoming, Volume 15, April 1943, Wyoming Historical Department, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

 


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