#Lookback: Edgar H. Fourt: Lawyer, Legislator, Judge, Outdoorsman 1864-1934

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.

Edgar Fourt and his twin brother, Edwin were born along the St. Croix River in Wisconsin on May 7, 1864. Their father was a Civil War veteran who was disabled with a shattered leg, so the boys learned early how to help around the farm. There were seven living children ages 3 to 14 in this family when their mother died in 1876. Their father remarried, but their stepmother had no patience with the children and turned them out into the world one by one. The twins were only 10 years old when they lost their home. The siblings stuck together, and all but one of them completed college.

Edgar completed a law degree in Wisconsin in 1890 the same year Wyoming became a state, and he was making inquiries about opportunities in the West when he was offered a chance to be the orator for the 4th of July in Lander. He rode the train as far as Rawlins, Wyoming where he boarded a stage with four fellow passengers for the trip to Lander. At a stage station along the Sweetwater River, the passengers watched as a new, rather drunk, the unsteady driver took control of the reins. The whip cracked and the horses jolted forward along the rough road. The driver lost control of the team, and the horses headed back to the stage station, but not before becoming entangled in a barbed-wire fence. The passengers leaped from the stage as the crazed team dragged the empty stage behind them. Luckily, none of the passengers were seriously injured.

One of Edgar Fourt’s fellow passengers was Emile Granier, the wealthy French Civil Engineer working in the South Pass area. Granier had some legal issues and gave Fourt a $25 retainer fee. Fourt had his first client.

Fourt hung his shingle in Lander. He soon realized that water rights and mineral rights would be major legal issues for the new state and so geared his practice to these issues.

Fourt was directly involved in many of the legal issues of Fremont County in the early days. He was at the forefront of opening the Wind River Reservation to White settlement and lobbied unsuccessfully, for the State Agricultural College and for the state capitol to be located in Lander.

When Fourt served as a legislator from Lander, he fought for an appropriation to develop the hot spring at Thermopolis. He was also involved in the development of the town of Thermopolis and the coal mining town of Gebo.

He untangled the mineral rights at the Wypo and Dallas Dome oil fields, and so helped with the development of the Wyoming oil industry.

On September 23, 1894, Fourt married Sarah Roberts, the sister of Rev. John Roberts who officiated at the ceremony. They had one son, Charles Leon, but the marriage was evidently unhappy, and Sarah took their son and returned to Wales about 1900. He made at least one trip to visit his son in Wales. 

In 1927, he was appointed to be a judge in the new Ninth Circuit court.

As an older man, he developed a passion for the backcountry and the mountains. He realized the economic opportunities of tourism in the Wind River Mountains. He took photographers to visit the glacier fields around Gannett Peak in order to promote tourism. The glacier fields were named for him. Today, the photographs from his trips are valuable to scientists, since they help document climate change and the receding glacier fields.

He requested that after his death, he be cremated, and his ashes buried in the glacier fields he loved. His nephew fulfilled this final wish, and a bronze plaque is affixed to a boulder above his ashes by the Fourt Glacier field.

(Fourt: Kneeling with dog in photo)

Next up for the Fremont County Museums

June 2, 6 pm at the Riverton Museum, “Before Yellowstone: Native American Archeology in the National Park”

Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek Series

June 2, 9 am at the Dubois Museum, “Explore Mason Draw!”

              Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

June 4, 9-5 at all three museums “First Fridays”

Children Accompanied by a paying adult admitted Free

June 9, 9 am at the Dubois Museum, “Making Ice Cream”

              Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

June 10, 7 pm at the Dubois Museum, “Learning About American Prisoner of War Camps Across America” by Kathy Kirkpatrick

              Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

June 12, 2-4pm at the Riverton Museum, “Dig into the Field of Archeology”

              Baily Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

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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