Rich Colors, Rich Lands
Gold Metal, Green Grass, Black Coal & Crude
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
Rocky Ford Oilfield
Around 1900 an oil seep just south of this Visitor 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.
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
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Agriculture • Industry & Commerce. A significant historical year for this entry is 1876.
Location. 44° 31.661′ N, 104° 12.346′ W. Marker is in Sundance, Wyoming, in Crook County. Marker is on Interstate 90. Marker is at the Wyoming Welcome Center. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Sundance WY 82729, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Custer Trail (here, next to this marker); Bird of the Black Hills (here, next to this marker); The Vore Buffalo Jump (here, next to this marker); Petrified Trees (here, next to this marker); Paha Sapa, Black Hills (here, next to this marker); Matthew S. Driskill (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Vore Buffalo Jump (approx. 2½ miles away); Understanding Bison Behavior Brought Success (approx. 2½ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sundance.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 22, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 4, 2011, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 638 times since then and 22 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on August 4, 2011, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. 2. submitted on November 22, 2021, by TeamOHE of Napoleon, Ohio. 3. submitted on August 4, 2011, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.