Lander
Pop. 5,357 Elev. 7,500

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Hailed by several publications as one of the "Best Small Towns in the West", Lander is a friendly mix of the old and the new. The Lander Valley was once the tribal territory of the Shoshones, and is still home to the sole reservation in the state, the Wind River Reservation. This area was a part of John Colter’s excursions in 1807 and 1808, and next became a rendezvous spot for mountain men. Pioneers began settling in the valley in the late 1860s, and Major Noyes Baldwin established a trading post in 1868, which still stands on the creek of the same name. A military post, Fort Augur (later Fort Brown) was set up here to disperse commodities to the Shoshones. It was later moved farther north, closer to the reservation, and dubbed Fort Wahakie.

Disagreements over reservation boundaries inhibited settlement for a few years thereafter. In 1872, Chief Washakie renegotiated with the U.S. Government, and sold the land south of the North Fork of the Popo Agie (po-PO-zha) River. Many settlers came from the overflowing South Pass City, where gold had attracted the masses. The emerging town was dubbed Pushroot, due to the warm downdrafts from the Wind River Mountains that seemed to push crops from the ground earlier in spring than anticipated. When the town applied for a post office in 1875, the name Pushroot was rejected. Resident and former Pony Express rider Franklin Lowe suggested naming the town for Frederick W. Lander, who had engineered the nearby Lander Cut-off of the Oregon Trail in 1857.

Agriculture was the towns best source of revenue, and with the help of windmills, residents were able to effectively irrigate most of the valley. The population grew slowly but steadily over the next several years. The town became county seat when Fremont County was established in 1884. The streets had been designed extra wide to accommodate the freight wagons with their large ox teams, and they remained so even after the railroad arrived in 1906, effectively ending the need for the freighters.

Lander is known today as the "City of Bronze" for its bronze foundry, which has produced many bronze statues seen all over the US, including several that line the streets of Lander today. It is also an oil country hub, as well as being the first place in Wyoming where oil was discovered in 1833, by Captain Bonneville, who called a pool of oil he found here the "Great Tar Spring." When the "Spring" was drilled 51 years later, it proved to be a "spouter" capable of producing 200 barrels a day of top-notch crude. The area is now called the Dallas Dome Field

Today, Lander provides a pleasant combination of Old West hospitality and New West style. From cowboy-style horseback riding to modern eateries, guest ranches to bed and breakfasts, the town has something to greet travelers of all tastes. The community continues to honor its agricultural and mountaineering traditions, but has also become the headquarters for several environmental groups, such as the Wyoming Outdoor Council and the Nature Conservancy. All in all, Lander is a place where balance is achieved in marvelous ways.

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