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The History of Kemmerer, WY

Kemmerer has a rich and nationally significant history. Kemmerer was established in 1897 and incorporated in January of 1899. It is a community with a mining past that is emblematic of the development of the industry in the American West. Kemmerer is the seat of Lincoln County, and it is located in a region of the country very near the Oregon Trail, California Trail, and Pony Express routes. It is also home to JC Penney's mother store. Kemmerer was founded by Patrick J Quealy, originally from Ireland, and Mahlon S. Kemmerer of Mauch Chunk, PA. One of Wyoming's unsolved mysteries is that of the murder of Anna Byers Richey, a rancher in Fossil, Wyoming, 12 miles west of Kemmerer. Annie, daughter of a wealthy rancher and known locally as Queen Anne, was the first woman to be convicted of cattle rustling in the state of Wyoming. She was, as the locals said, "thirty, purty, and full of life." After her conviction and while she was at home getting her affairs in order in May of 1922, Anna Richey was poisoned. Whether it was murder or suicide still remains a mystery today. She was about 26 years of age. During the 1920s, Kemmerer became a national center for bootlegging and a major supplier of liquor for Chicago. Kemmerer "moon" was a favorite of speakeasies. Kemmerer winemakers ordered grapes by the trainload to keep up with the demand. A 1931 bust near Kemmerer found 24,000 gallons of liquor! All this ended when prohibition was repealed in 1933.

The History of Diamondville, WY

Diamondville's name was derived from the quality of the coal mined here, as it seemed to resemble black diamonds and was of a superior grade. In 1868, a man by the name of Harrison Church discovered coal on Hamsfork. He built a cabin on the hill where the present town of Diamondville now stands. He succeeded in interesting some men from Minneapolis to form a company of which Church was a stockholder. The Hamsfork Coal Company was incorporated 1884. S.F. Fields, a promoter from Salt Lake City, took management and the Diamond Coal & Coke Company was founded. The Town of Diamondville was incorporated about 1896 with the Scottish Thomas Sneddon as the first mayor. After the opening of Mine #1 in 1894, most of the first people to settle here came from Almy, Wyoming, where a series of mine explosions had occurred in 1881, 1886, and 1896.
The original town was started on top of the hill south of the present main location because the river had to be rerouted before starting the building of homes in the valley. One of the unique features of Diamondville was a flight of 122 stairs made of wood that led to the top of the hill. The Diamondville Mine closed in 1928.

There is Oysters in Them Hills!

Ever wonder where the name Oyster Ridge came from? Approximately 95-100 million years ago, the Kemmerer area was beachfront property on the edge of an inland sea. Sandwiched in the sandstone and clay shale of the Frontier Formation, Oyster Ridge contains evidence of critters that lived in the water including clams and you guessed it, oysters. Some layers are thick with fossilized oyster shells, indicating the environment was just right for oyster survival and later, providing perfect conditions for fossilization. After the waters receded in early Cenozoic time, compressional forces uplifted, folded and moved the sedimentary layers (formed in the sea), several miles eastward. Today, Oyster Ridge, composed of the rocks in the hanging wall of the Darby thrust fault, runs north and south east of Kemmerer and Diamondville. Oyster Ridge is not famous for its namesakes but for the coal to which Kemmerer and Diamondville owe their existence.

Digging For Fossils

Yup, you can bring back a realllllly old piece of your vacation by digging fossils at one of local Fossil Quarries or you can just say you did and stop by The Tynsky Fossil Shop right on The Triangle.

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