INTRODUCING PLATTE COUNTY
Located in southeastern Wyoming, Platte County is located along the east slope of the Laramie Range. The county has an array of history. Known for its agriculture roots, the county’s main towns consist of Chugwater, Glendo, Guernsey, Hartville and Wheatland.
The Wyoming Livestock Roundup is excited to feature Platte County ranches, farms and agribusinesses in the 2023 Winter Cattlemen’s Edition.
The American Fur Company built Fort Laramie in the summer of 1841 in neighboring Goshen County. The fort became a routine stopping point during the America’s westward expansion.
The American Fur Company, otherwise known as Fort Laramie, was built in neighboring Goshen County. In the 1830s, missionaries began joining fur company employees on the journey to the west.
In 1867, the Union Pacific Railroad reached Cheyenne, and a supply depot was opened nearby. A freight road and telegraph line opened, and soon roadhouses and stage stops popped up along the way.
After gold was discovered in the 1870s in the Black Hills of Dakota Territory, the Cheyenne-Fort Laramie freight road was extended north to gold camps. The entire route was known as the Cheyenne-Deadwood State Road, running through eastern Wyoming and future parts of Platte County.
Through the mid-1880s, the region provided a prime location for open range sheep and cattle ranching.
In 1900, the Burlington Railroad entered Wyoming, and in 1902, the railroad established the town of Guernsey. Growing populations in Wheatland and the Guernsey, Hartville and Sunrise areas led the legislature to create a new county in 1911. Gov. Joseph M. Carey signed the bill establishing the county on Feb. 9, 1911.
The county was named after the North Platte River. Today, the river provides ranchers and farmers in Wyoming and Nebraska the opportunity to grow alfalfa, corn, potatoes, sugarbeets and beans.
Platte County Commissioner Kayla Mantle works to set the budget for the county. As a longtime resident, she has always been interested in the work she does as a commissioner.
“I never really thought I’d be in this position, but I was born and raised here and decided I wanted Platte County to be a place where a younger generation can come back to,” shares Kayla.
Platte County commodities include sugarbeets, corn, winter wheat, hay and beans. According the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Statistics Service 2017 census, Platte County ranks third in the state for crops, third for livestock, poultry and products and has roughly 64,118 cattle and calves.
“We’re unique here in the fact the Wheatland Irrigation District is a privately owned irrigation district, so it’s where many farmers get their water,” she says. “It’s the only one in the state privately owned. So, where other counties have a different water source, we solely rely on the snowpack and water coming off of the Laramie Mountain Range – in a drought year, this poses a challenge for many producers in the county.”
A large portion of the county offers several tourism attractions, notes Kayla.
“In the summer months, we have a lot of tourism in the Glendo and Guernsey areas with the reservoir and lake there,” she says. “Grayrocks Reservoir is also a big fishing area in the county. Tourism is huge here as far as recreation.”
In addition, the county has Oregon Trail ruts near Guernsey and has several other historical stops, including the Sunrise Mine Historic District, Register Cliff, Wheatland Downtown Historic District, Chugwater Soda Fountain and the EWZ Bridge over the East Channel of the Laramie River.
The Platte County Tourism Board works on several projects throughout the year and attracts a lot of people with their annual car show, formerly known as the Blue Mountain Car Show, which is held the weekend after the Fourth of July, she notes.
“Platte County is a unique place to live,” concludes Kayla. “We’ve seen a lot of growth here with the Laramie River Station, a coal-fired power plant, which is one of the only ones left in this part of the nation. If it wasn’t for the school district and the power plant, we wouldn’t have a county.”
Information in this article was compiled from wyominghistory.org. For more information on Platte County, visit plattecountywyoming.com.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.