Grand Encampment Museum – Encampment

Aug 22, 2013

Grand Encampment Museum preserves and interprets the history of the Upper North Platte Valley. It provides the public with access to historical sources and experiences, as well as a place for research and to educate all generations.

The museum started as a volunteer effort with support from the earlier families: Oldman and Parkison certainly, but also from others including such names as Herring, Platt, Vyvey- Verplancke, Kraft, Peryam, Wolfard, Kuntzman, and on and on. Even today the museum operates primarily with volunteer labor as the hub during the copper boom and since. Like the spokes of a wheel the story spreads from mining to timbering and agriculture. (Moulton, Candy. The Grand Encampment. Glendo, Wyoming: High Plains Press, 1997.)

The Doc Culleton Memorial Building is the main building at the Grand Encampment Museum. It was erected in 1966.

The History of Grand Encampment, Wyoming

An abundance of fine pelts drew the first white men into the valley, long held sacred by the Indians. The trappers' day soon passed, and was succeeded by others, equally brief. Tie cutters, cattle barons, and hunting expeditions came and went.

The year of 1897 produced an electrifying change. A rich copper strike in the Sierra Madres precipitated the new city of Grand Encampment and several satellite settlements. The smelter was supplied by a 16-mile aerial tramway-longest in the world. Power was provided by water through a 4 foot wooden pipeline. The Saratoga & Encampment Railroad (S & E RR or the Slow and Easy RR) was constructed, but its completion came a little late.

In 1908, the company which had produced two million dollars in copper ore was indicted for over-capitalization and fraudulent stock sales. The mines closed, and Rudefeha, Dillon, Copperton, Rambler, Battle and Elwood became ghost towns. Encampment and Riverside survived but the "Grand" was quietly dropped.

The Town of Encampment is nestled in south-central Carbon County between the Sierra Madre and Snowy Range mountain ranges in the south central part of the state. Located forty miles south of Interstate 80 and 85 miles west of Laramie, the tiny town is home to 443 people. Grand Encampment, as it was originally known, served as an early day meeting place for Indians and trappers. Later tie cutters, miners and cattlemen came to the area. During the peak of the copper mining days the town boasted a smelter. The smelter had several fires (like most) and then the price of copper fell and really forced the closure. It also boasted the world's longest aerial tramway, and several thousand people. Smaller towns sprang up in several locations near the larger mines. When the copper mining boom ended just after the turn of the century, mines and towns were abandoned and the population of Encampment shrank. Today Encampment is supported by the timber, ranching and recreation industries.

Courtesy of Grand Encampment Museum’s Web Site