Powell
Pop. 5,373 Elev. 4,365


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Named for famed explorer John Wesley Powell, this community first grew up around the crews that came to build dams and irrigation systems for the Shoshone Project in the 1890s. Powell himself conceived of utilizing damming and canals to "reclaim" the land for agricultural purposes. Homesteaders swelled the population during the early part of the twentieth century, and the Burlington Railroad turned the town into a major shipping hub for the Bighorn Basin. With the discovery of oil in 1915, Powell found its fortunes rising still more as the Elk Basin Oil Field brought further growth. The oil industry is still a factor in the town’s economy, but it is first and foremost an agricultural town, churning out sugar beets, beans, and malting barley year after year.

Powell is also home to Northwest Community College, one of the state’s two years schools, which brings educational and cultural opportunities to local residents. Founded in 1946, the college serves some 2000 students in the area, most of whom live on campus.

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