“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Sundance in Crook County, Wyoming — The American West (Mountains)

Rich Colors, Rich Lands

Gold Metal, Green Grass, Black Coal & Crude

Rich Colors, Rich Lands Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Pfingsten, June 7, 2011
1. Rich Colors, Rich Lands Marker
Inscription. The first Caucasian residents of this area came as prospectors following the Black Hills Gold Rush. In 1876 the glitter of gold led them from the large mining camps of Lead and Deadwood westward to Sand Creek, located near this site. Instead of moving on when they reached the end of the precious vein, many of these adventurers settled here, shifting their energies to other forms of mining as well as farming and ranching.

Aladdin Coal Mines
The Black Hills Gold Rush brought with it the need for supplies, in particular, lumber and coal. Several coal beds located north of here near Aladdin were discovered in the 1870s and began to be mined in the 1890s. This coal primarily served gold smelting in Lead and Deadwood. At first it was hauled by wagon. Then in 1898-1900 the Wyoming and Missouri River Railroad (W&MR) was built between Aladdin and Belle Fourche, opening the area to oil production and sawmills and helping farmers and ranchers transport their products to market. Industrial coal mining ceased in 1911 when the gold frenzy subsided, and the railroad closed in 1927. Mining coal for local, domestic use however, continued through the early 1940s. Pictured left is the Aladdin Coal Tipple, an enduring monument to 19th-century coal mine engineering.

Rocky Ford Oilfield
Around 1900 an oil seep just south of this Visitor

Wyoming Welcome Center image. Click for full size.
By Beverly Pfingsten, June 7, 2011
2. Wyoming Welcome Center
Information Center clued residents to the presence of oil. Geologists studied the area, and entrepreneurs dug test wells. When the Rocky Ford Oilfield was identified southwest of the seep, several oil companies formed to stake claims and start production. One such firm was the Rocky Ford Oil and Development Company, whose president was local farmer E.M. Harper (pictured left around 1915 pumping oil by hand and far left on a drill rig). Windmills or hand-operated pistons pumped most wells, each producing between three gallons and three barrels of oil per day. After commercial production ended, locals continued to tap the remaining wells for decades, using the product as a lubricant and salve.

Fertile Grasslands
Settlers to this area came for the gold, the coal, and the oil. However, what they found in abundance in northeast Wyoming was fields of gorgeous green grass. Trailing cattle through here on the way to Montana between the 1870s-1890s, cowboys following the Texas Trail admired the area's grazing potential. Many of them stayed, introducing ranching to the region. Their descendants continue the tradition to this day with "centennial" farms and ranches. Tied closely to the ways of bison that occupied this land for thousands of years, ranching is well suited to the location, as is farming hay and grain. Together, these occupations have shaped settlement and structured the economy of the area.
Location. 44° 31.661′ N, 104° 12.346′ W. Marker is in Sundance, Wyoming, in Crook County. Marker is on Interstate 90. Click for map. Marker is at the Wyoming Welcome Center. Marker is in this post office area: Sundance WY 82729, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Paha Sapa, Black Hills (here, next to this marker); Petrified Trees (here, next to this marker); The Vore Buffalo Jump (here, next to this marker); Bird of the Black Hills (here, next to this marker); The Custer Trail (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Vore Buffalo Jump (approx. 2.5 miles away); Understanding Bison Behavior Brought Success (approx. 2.5 miles away); The Ideal Hunting Ground (approx. 2.5 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Sundance.
Categories. AgricultureIndustry & Commerce

Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 440 times since then and 89 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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