A Great County
The annual Fall Cattlemen’s special Edition is inside your Roundup this week, and as always, the Fall and Winter Cattlemen’s editions are fun to produce for everyone involved. This fall, we focused on Crook County. We have to be honest and tell you we didn’t know a lot about Crook County when we started planning the edition a couple of months ago. We have all driven through Crook County and have known people from there for years, but we were in for a great surprise.
The editors who traveled up to Crook County really have the best part of visiting and learning about the county from the people they interviewed. While hearing all of the good stories about the families, they see the beautiful spots around the county, the places one doesn’t get to see from Interstate 90 or the other highways.
The early days or history stories are always the best, and Crook County has a lot of history. We learned that what is now Crook County was once covered by a prehistoric ocean, as were a lot of other places in Wyoming where we find fossils, and now, they have coal. Around 13,000 years ago, the first humans arrived, ancestors of today’s Native Americans. Petroglyphs dating around 1,000 to 500 years ago show the presence of aboriginal people well before Indians began settling in the area. Later, Plains Indian tribes followed the bison through the land and had the county to themselves until 1811, when the Wilson Price Hunt Expedition passed through on a fur trading venture bound for Oregon. One wonders just what they thought of Devils Tower at first sight.
Gold was first rumored in the Black Hills in the 1870s. Those who made it in and out of the area, escaping the Indians, brought back stories, largely exaggerated, of huge gold deposits. In 1874, the government sent a large military expedition led by Lt. Col. George A. Custer to the Black Hills and came back with reports there was, in fact, gold there.
Since an 1868 treaty with the Natives, the government prohibited settlers from even traveling through the area, so when gold was found, the government tried to buy the Black Hills from the Natives. Being holy ground, they refused to part with it, and then, as we know, the battle was on.
On Dec. 8, 1875, Wyoming’s territorial legislature created Pease County out of the northeast part of Wyoming Territory. Later, Crook and Johnson counties were created out of the northeast part of Pease County. In 1890, the Wyoming legislature created Weston County from the southern half of Crook County. Finally, in 1913, Campbell County was created, taking the western halves of Crook and Weston counties.
Beulah, now along Interstate 90, is considered the first settlement in what is now Crook County. First known as Sand Creek, the area drew gold prospectors in the late 1870s.
After the gold dwindled, cattle ranchers came in and settled. Texas cattle had been coming into northeastern Wyoming since the late 1870s, and some of those Texas cowboys stayed and settled in Crook County. In fact, in the 1890s, Moorcroft became the largest cattle shipping point in the U.S.
Sheep soon followed, and their numbers, along with the rest of the state, significantly outnumbered cattle in Wyoming in the early 1900s.
When the railroads came in the late 1800s, timber became a major resource.
We hope you enjoy the Fall Cattlemen’s issue. We enjoy bringing it to you.