While the railroad was the main hub of employment early in Laramie’s history, the cattle and sheep businesses helped grow the economy of the burgeoning town. Names such as Philip Mandel, Thomas Alsop, Charles Hutton, Robert Homer, and the Bath brothers became tied to ranches that caused stockyards to be built in Laramie to aid in the shipping of cattle and sheep to markets. Eventually, the stockyards would be expanded and the railroad would build and run an ice plant to assist in the refrigeration and transportation of produce from Laramie.
Old ranchers and newcomers would mingle and continue to grow the livestock industry in Laramie. These ranchers relied on businesses in town for their needs, continuing to grow the town’s economy in more ways than just ranching. By the 1880s, ranching had reached its peak in Laramie, but the cattle marketing collapsing in 1886 dealt a blow to the industry in Laramie.
Agriculture had continued to play a role in Laramie’s economy and history, although a much smaller role than in its early years. This can be seen at events around Laramie and UW’s large agricultural programs. Agriculture was a part of the Western way of life and for many around Laramie, it is still their livelihood.
Over the next two weeks, collections and items reflecting Laramie’s ties with ranching and agriculture will be showcased in the exhibits. Brands, ranch stories, and images are just some of the items representing the varied history of agriculture around Laramie that the American Heritage Center holds.
The Ranching in Laramie exhibit will run from August 6 to 20. Exhibits can be viewed in the 4th floor Reading Room. Reading Room hours are Monday 10:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. and Tuesday through Friday 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Closed Saturday and Sunday.
– Submitted by Katey Parris, AHC Reference Department.