#Lookback: Settlement of Shoshoni

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.

Homesteaders began settling around Shoshoni in about 1860.Officially, Shoshoni was founded in 1904, by the Pioneer Townsite Company. The Pioneer Townsite Company was a subsidiary of the Fremont, Elkhorn, and Missouri Valley Railroad Company (The Elkhorn Railroad). The Elkhorn Railroad was in the process of expanding its tracks west from Casper, Wyoming. The Pioneer Townsite Company founded towns ahead of the westward extension of the railroad.

After its founding, Shoshoni quickly grew to a population of about 2,000 residents. At first, Shoshoni was a tent city, which meant that most local establishments were operated out of a tent, including the local Congregational church. Later, the church rented a log cabin for the paster to live for $8.00 a month and held church services in the cabin that housed the town hall and the town jail. In 1908, the Congregational church dedicated a permanent church building. This church now houses the Community Presbyterian Church in Shoshoni. The parsonage was finished a few years later in 1910. By 1906, the town of Shoshoni was incorporated. The first Postmaster of the town was C.H. King’s son-in-law, Robert H. Knittle.

The quick growth of Shoshoni was attributed to three anticipated projects. The first project was the upcoming opening of land within the Wind River Reservation for settlement and the arrival of the railroad in Shoshoni. In 1905, with the McLaughlin Agreement between the United States Government and the native residents of the Wind River Reservation, 65% of the land on the Wind River Reservation was ceded for white settlers. After an agreement was reached, plans for opening the land were made for August 15th, 1906. Before the land on the Wind River Reservation was officially opened, the railroad finally arrived in Shoshoni on July 3rd, 1906. The depot in Shoshoni was located on the south end of Main Street. People gathered in Lander and Shoshoni to await the official opening of the townsite land on August 15th, 1906. While they waited, many businessmen who were looking for new opportunities in the new townsite began to gather supplies and prepared to stake a claim on the best lots in town.

The second project, near Shoshoni, was the exploration of Copper Mountain for minerals. On August 3rd, 1905, The Wyoming Derrick reported that copper and gold at Copper Mountain. Within a short amount of time, there were 500 mining claims around Copper Mountain. By 1909, mining in Copper Mountain was dead. This was because of the failure of the Boysen Dam to provide enough electricity to power the mining equipment at Copper Mountain.

The Shoshoni Gold Dredging Company was one of the failed mining endeavors at Copper Mountain. Barney Aronson moved from Casper, Wyoming, and established Barney Arnson’s Shoshoni Pioneer Location Agency. A locating agency was a real estate office that represented buyers in locating a property to buy. Arnson charged each buyer $25 dollars for locating property. After the discovery of gold and copper, Barney Arnson joined Asmus Boysen in his mining ventures in Copper Mountain. One venture was the dredging of gold from the Wind River near the townsite of Neble, Wyoming. This old town was located about 14 miles southwest of Shoshoni. Neble was formed by Nathaniel F. Shipton and acquired by Boysen. Boysen renamed the townsite from Wahaba to Neble after Colonel Solphus Frederik Neble, the publisher of The Danish Pioneer. As acting president, Barney Arnson registered as the agent of the Shoshoni Gold Dredging Company. The money for the operation was acquired from an investor named Frank A. Seiberling, the co-founder of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. At first, the company made six test drillings at the bottom of the Wind River. Based on the results of the test, the Shoshoni Gold Dredging Company purchased a dredger that cost approximately $49,000 and became known as the Neble Dredge. The dredger only got about twenty-eight cents worth of gold per cubic yard. After more extensive test drillings, it was discovered that dredging gold at this location was not a profitable business. As a result, the dredge only operated for about six weeks before it was closed. By 1920, Aronson moved to Thermopolis to operate an oil company.

The third project was the construction of an irrigation system and hydroelectric power from Boysen Dam built by Asmus Boysen. The current Boysen Dam was built in the 1940s and was named after the man who built the original dam in 1908. Asmus Boysen was born in Denmark in 1868, and he immigrated to the United States in 1886. In Illinois, he met and married Anna Leet. He and his wife moved to Audubon County in Iowa, in the early 1890s. For the next decade, Asmus made worked in banking and other capitalist ventures in Northwestern Iowa. He even served as a State Representative in the Iowa General Assembly from 1900-1903. However, Asmus moved west to Wyoming, to start a mining business known as the Asmus Boysen Mining Company. He invested in a dam that would provide power and irrigation for his mining business. The original structure was located downriver from the present Boysen Dam. It was made of concrete and generated about 710 kilowatts of electricity. The Burlington Railroad eventually built tracks over the dam through the Wind River Canyon. By 1925, the dam silted up and flash floods began to endanger the tracks of the Burlington Railroad. The company sued Asmus and demanded that the dam be removed. In 1948, the original dam was demolished.

Next up for the Fremont County Museums

Aug 4, 6 pm at the Riverton Museum, “Harry Harpoon Concert”

Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

Aug 6, 9-5 at the Dubois Museum, Pioneer Museum, Riverton, “First Friday” Children admitted free accompanied by an adult

State Farm Lander: Justice Jacobs
State Farm Riverton: Tyler Watson

Aug 7, 9 pm at the Dubois Museum, “Astronomy of the Summer Sky”

Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek

Thru October, 9-5 Monday-Saturday, at the Pioneer Museum, “Joseph Scheuerle Western Art Exhibit”

Handle With Care: Reed Schell

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 2ndRm 320 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.

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