Meeteetse Museums will host its free, annual field trip to Kirwin, the ghost mining town, on Saturday, August 12, 2017. The guided tour will begin at Kirwin at 10:30 a.m. Tour participants should meet at the museum by 8:15 a.m. to sign in and also to arrange for a ride if one is needed. The tour leaves at 8:30 sharp. Those wanting to meet at Kirwin and not wait for the group may do so. A high-clearance vehicle is needed to get to the ghost town. Those without a higher clearance vehicle can arrange for carpooling that morning at the museum. Tour participants should bring a picnic lunch and bear spray if going off site. Rustic restrooms are available at Kirwin.
The tour will be different this year, since health issues have stopped long-time hosts, Jim and Rich Dunrud, from attending. It was Carl Dunrud, their father, who owned the Kirwin area (and Double Dee Guest Ranch) during the 1930s and ‘40s. In their absence, the 2017 Kirwin tour will be led by Meeteetse Museum staff, rangers from the Shoshone National Forest, and geologist Lynn Sessions.
Representatives of the US Forest Service will present information about food and bear safety, plus they will discuss the logging that is currently taking place in and around Kirwin. The logging is part of a Forest Service plan to protect the historic structures from potential fires. Tour participants will have the opportunity to explore the individual buildings (inside and out), as well as the general layout of the former town. Guests may also hike the trail about a mile to the remnants of the summer cabin that was being built by Carl Dunrud for his friend, aviatrix Amelia Earhart. Construction on the cabin stopped when Earhart’s plane disappeared over the Pacific Ocean in 1937.
This year, geologist Lynn Sessions will provide an overview of the geology of Kirwin. In addition, she will discuss the geology of the region and how it has shaped what we see today. Lynn Sessions is a consulting geologist with over 30 years of experience, primarily in the oil & gas and coal mining industries. A Wyoming native, she holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Geology and Secondary Science Education. Lynn has done extensive coal work, both internationally and in the US and currently lives in her home town of Meeteetse, WY. Lynn is a Wyoming Licensed Professional Geologist and a member of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME). David Cunningham, Director of the Meeteetse Museums, will present a brief overview of the history of the mining town from its beginnings in the late 1800s to its demise in 1907. Cunningham will also cover what happened to Kirwin in the decades to follow and the attempts to utilize the area by Carl Dunrud and AMAX, a mining company.
The ghost town of Kirwin is located in the Absaroka Mountains, 38 miles southwest of Meeteetse. Its mining history began in 1881 when William Kirwin and Harry Adams were hunting in the area and discovered ore. Money and people rushed to Kirwin and, by the early 1900s, the mining town had a population of over two hundred.
Extracting the gold, copper, silver, and lead from the mines was difficult, as was the effort that went into it. All the machinery, for example, had to be hauled in piece by piece by horse-drawn wagons. Despite the difficulties of living and working in Kirwin, the town grew. Most of the dwellings were one or two room structures, although there were a few duplexes there. The mine superintendent lived in a two-story home. A large bunkhouse housed about 75 miners who were employed by the three mining companies. In addition to houses, Kirwin included three general stores, a hotel, and post office. There were no saloons or houses of prostitution at Kirwin (folks went to Meeteetse for those things).
Because the gold and silver was of low value, Kirwin did not survive long. Its demise was hastened further by a January 1907 avalanche, which destroyed the home and store of C. L. Tewksbury and kille