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prohibition was repealed in 1933.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,
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
There is Oysters in Them
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.