#Lookback: Carpenter Hotel Historic District

    A County 10 series in partnership with the Fremont County Museum System
    where we take a #Lookback at the stories and history of our community and
    presented by Mick Pryor, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.

    The National Register of Historic Places was created by the National Historic Preservation Act, which was signed into law by Lyndon B. Johnson, on October 15th, 1966.   The National Register of Historic Places is a list compiled by the National Park Service to help support the nation’s efforts to preserve America’s historic and archeological resources.   As of 2019, there are more than 95,000 properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Almost every county in the United States has at least one place on the list.  In Fremont County, there are thirty-five locations that have been added to the National Register of Historic Places.  One of the thirty-five locations is the Carpenter Hotel Historic District, now called the Miner’s Delight Inn Bed and Breakfast.  

    In 1890, Clarence and Eleanor “Nellie” Carpenter and their four children Ellen, Anne, James, and Edith left Crawford, Nebraska, and headed west to Oregon.  While crossing the Red Desert, all the families’ horses died from drinking alkali contaminated water.  After the tragedy, the family ended up in Atlantic City on October 13th, 1890.  Upon arrival, the family moved into an abandoned cabin on the site where the Carpenter Hotel Historic District is currently located.  

    From 1890 to 1903, the Carpenters added several rooms to the small, abandoned cabin.  By July 1903, Nellie began taking in boarders to supplement the family’s income.  While they began taking in boarders, the family began construction on a one-story hotel building using logs from Fort Stambaugh.  By 1904, the hotel containing six bedrooms, a dining room, and a kitchen was opened.  

    By 1907, Clarence Carpenter left his wife Nellie and his eldest daughter Ellen in Wyoming to run the hotel and headed back to Nebraska.  By 1908, Nellie divorced Clarence.  Nellie continued to run the hotel until her death from a stroke on August 18th, 1930.  The ownership of the hotel passed to Nellie’s daughter Ellen.  While Ellen owned the hotel, she held cake dances in the dining room after serving dinner to the locals.  She also organized picnics on the hotel grounds and group trips to local sights.  On Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas she held dinners for the local miners.  

    Beginning in 1930, the hotel housed the Post Office.  Ellen Carpenter served as the first Postmistress until 1953 when the Post Office closed.   The first phone booth in Atlantic City was in the corner of the Carpenter Hotel’s dining room.  A small cabin was built on the property that served as the town’s first gas station.  After the family’s original cabin was demolished, a two-story section of the building was later added in 1935 by Ellen’s youngest brother, Bud Carpenter, and Fred Baker.  In addition, the family replaced the four tent cabins on the property with log cabins and built a fifth cabin by Little Beaver Creek.

    Following the expansion of the hotel, Atlantic City went through a bust period and almost every business in town had closed by the mid-1950s.  At one point, Ellen and James “Jim” Carpenter were the only full-time residents in Atlantic City.  During this time, hunters, fisherman, and rock collectors would come to stay at the hotel.  In March 1958, electricity was brought to Atlantic City and to the Carpenter Hotel.   

    Ellen Carpenter passed away on May 13th, 1961.  Jim Carpenter tried to continue operating the hotel, but was forced to put the property up for auction to settle Ellen’s estate.  The auction was held on September 9th, 1961, and the contents of all the buildings were sold.  However, nobody placed a qualifying bid on the property itself.  So, Jim Carpenter managed to keep the hotel running until 1963, when he sold the property to Paul and Georgina Newman from New York City.  Currently, the Carpenter Hotel Historic District consists of a main lodge, four small cabins, a large cabin, and three outbuildings.   The Carpenter Hotel Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 12th, 2012.  

    Next up for the Fremont County Museum

    April 30, 1-3pm “Sheep Shearing Day” at the Pioneer Museum in Lander.  Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    April 30, 2-4pm “Arts and Music Day” at the Riverton Museum. Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    May 6, 9-5 “First Fridays” at the Dubois Museum, Pioneer Museum and the Riverton Museum.  State Farm Riverton/State Farm Lander

    Thru October 2022, 9-5pm Monday-Saturday, at the Pioneer Museum, “Hurrah for The Cowboy: Men of the Open Range” Art Exhibition

    The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander and the Riverton Museum need your financial support.  In the current economic environment, the museums are more reliant than ever on donations from the private sector to continue to provide the quality programs, collections management, exhibits and services that have become their hallmark over the last four years.  Please make your tax deductible contribution to be used specifically for the benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Fremont County Museums 450 N 2nd Rm 320 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.  

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