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Mike Evans shared some history of Fremont County post offices with us that he wanted to share with the rest of the community. While not necessarily a letter to the editor, it did provide some interesting local history. Part of his reason for doing this is because he is looking for a photo of the Gas Hills Post Office. If you have a photo of that post office, please email it to [email protected] and we can get it to Mike.
Fremont County has a notable collection of past and present post offices. The beginning and the end of each coincides with the founding and demise of some economic activity or gathering and dispersal of people. I suppose it is safe to say that the establishment of a post office added a bit of legitimacy to any location. Wyoming’s boom and bust cycles have a very long list of post office establishments and the eventual closing down of many. The need to communicate, share and send word back home has long existed. Those locations with good fortune still have a zip code.
After the Mountain Man era, mining was the reason European settlers came to Fremont County. Fremont County’s earliest post office was in South Pass City in 1861, which operates today when the state park is open. The two most recent to be established are Gas Hills and Jeffrey City in 1959. Home on the Range was changed to Jeffrey City in that year. Gas Hills closed sometime after 1981. This all had to do with the uranium boom and bust.
The hard rock mining efforts were up and down depending on the markets and the presence of a valuable mineral. Miner’s Delight came and went with the boom and bust. As did the Atlantic City, Lewiston and Grosvenor post offices. From 1861 to 1906, post offices existed as long ore was coming out of the ground. Atlantic City closed in 1954. Miners Delight operated from Jan. 1870 to May 1900.
Some early post offices were established on military facilities. Camp Stambaugh began operation on July 7, 1871, and ceased Dec 3, 1878. The camp itself was established in June 1870 to stop hostilities between miners and Native Americans and named for First Lieutenant Charles B. Stambaugh, who was killed in action near Miner’s Delight. Camp Brown’s post office was established in March of 1875 and the name was changed to Fort Washakie in May 1879.
Oil and gas exploration and production have their up and downs also. Lost Cabin had a post office from Aug 1886 until June 1966. As time went on, it took less workers in the oil patch and transportation improved and got faster. Less people lived in places like Lost Cabin, Moneta and Sand Draw so post offices were closed and consolidated to places with more postal patrons. Lysite has been handling mail since 1914.
There is a bit of controversy or confusion on the naming of the post office at Dubois. There is a “charming” but not exactly true story that the original good people of Dubois applied to the US Postal Service to name itself “Never Sweat.” The livingdubois.com website states that in reality, the name suggested was “Tibo,” the Shoshone nickname for the Episcopal missionary in the area. However, the person serving as Wyoming Territory’s Senator at the time did not like that proposal, so he named the post office after himself. However, not to be dissuaded, some of the local folks actually did apply and got the Postal Service to establish a post office named Neversweat. It operated from Oct 1895 to Nov 1897 up the river from Dubois.
Another reason post offices were established is because trails that became roads became crossroads. Places where people traveled and met each other. One such place had its beginning on the Oregon Trail near the Sweetwater River. Later the Stage Line between Rawlins and Lander and Fort Washakie continued the traffic. The Burnt Ranch had been established, so a post office was in order. E.A. Signor, who owned the ranch, petitioned the Territorial Congressman at the time for the name of Signor. Joseph Maull Carey, who apparently did not like that name but didn’t want to offend Mr. Signor, so he suggested spelling Signor’s name backward. Rongis was a post office from Jan 1883 until Oct 1926. Carey was later elected governor. A different kind of ranch, where Walt Disney once vacationed, had a post office from May 1936 to June 1955. It was called Diamond G Ranch, Wyo. Muskrat is notable as the post office near where Dr. David Love, a geologist, grew up on his family’s ranch. He was born 4 years after Muskrat closed in 1907.
Wind River Reservation had a post office named Shoshone Agency from Feb 1881 to Dec 31, 1944. The name was changed to Wind River in 1905. I believe Fort Washakie has taken over serving that area. Saint Stephens has been open since 1888 and Arapahoe since Feb 1893. Ethete is operational and has been open since Feb 1918.
The Bureau of Reclamation Irrigation Projects brought homesteaders to the county in the first quarter of the 20 century. Riverton was established in Oct 1906, Lenore existed from July 1907 to Feb 1942. Lander has been going strong since March 1875. Today, Fremont County has 15 operational post offices staffed by the United States Postal Service.
The Anderson Post Office holds the distinction of being the Fremont County post office to operate for the shortest time. Aug 27, 1913 to Nov 30, 1913. We do know Laura Anderson was the first and most likely only postmaster.
For the dates of opening and closing and the Fremont County Map of post offices, I used the book Wyoming Post Offices: 1850 – 1980, by John Gallagher and Alan Patera.
My personal interest is collecting postmarks and photos of the post offices from all around Wyoming. For Your Information, I am still looking for Gas Hills.