Jeffrey City, Wyoming

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Jeffrey City is a census-designated place (CDP) and former uranium mining boomtown located in Fremont County, in the central part of the U.S. state of Wyoming. The town is famous in Wyoming and the American West as symbol of a boomtown that went “bust” very quickly, as the mine was shut down in 1982 and over 95% of the inhabitants left the town within 3 years.[3] The population was 106 at the 2000 census, far lower than its onetime population of several thousand people.

Contents

History

Jeffrey City began in 1931 as "Home On the Range, Wyoming," the 640-acre (260 ha) homestead of a Nevada couple named the Petersons, who relocated because Mr. Peterson was sick after having been gassed in World War I. Mrs. Peterson opened two gas pumps when the highway came through, and began cooking for those who stopped. The Post Office at Split Rock, 14 miles (23 km) away, closed in 1943, and Mrs. Peterson took up the task of handling the ranchers' mail. She canceled the letters with "Home on the Range." She retired her post office cancellation stamp in 1957 when Home on the Range became Jeffrey City. Her family members are currently restoring the old Home on the Range post office site.

Home On the Range became Jeffrey City when those who came to mine uranium sought to honor Dr. C. W. Jeffrey, a wealthy doctor from Rawlins, Wyoming, who initially financed the costs for prospector and businessman Bob Adams to start the Western Nuclear Corporation mining firm and open a Uranium mine near the area in 1957, during the cold war and the height of uranium demand.[3]

Thousands of people looking for high-paying mining jobs streamed into Jeffrey City, and Western Nuclear designed and financed a company town for the workers and their families. At the height of the boom town optimism, an extremely large high school was built that included an Olympic-sized swimming pool. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the uranium market collapsed and the mine was forced to close. As was typical of many boom towns, Jeffrey City was singularly dependent on the local mine, and after it closed there was no reason for residents to remain. What was once a thriving local community with shops, schools, library, sheriff, youth hostel, churches, medical clinics and more, became a ghost town as 95% of the residents left the town by 1986.[3] Today, the only businesses that remain are the First (Southern) Baptist Church (which is still doing well thanks to the area ranchers who attend) and a bar called the Split Rock Café that caters to the few local residents and those passing through on the highway.

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