Most of the visitors who travel to Wyoming do so in search of the Wild West. And while the northeastern region does boast its fair share of ranches and rodeos, it’s known for its minerals—coal, oil and gas and uranium, to name a few.
This small section of the United States is most commonly referred to as the Energy Capital of the Nation. More than one-fourth of all American coal is mined from the Powder River Basin in Campbell County, which is in high demand today because it is low in sulfur—i.e., low emissions. Campbell County is the second largest producer of oil in the state, was the leading crude oil producer in 2010. Gas is also produced in Campbell County, and is piped south to Colorado and east to Nebraska.
In the late 1800s “Donkey Town,” aka Gillette, was homesteaded by cattle ranchers. In August of 1891, the Burlington and Missouri Railroad company pulled the first train into Gillette. Edward Gillette, a surveyor for Burlington and Missouri Railroad, suggested building the railroad route through the community of “Donkey Town”—a suggestion that saved the railroad thousands of dollars, and Edward’s reward was to have the town named after him. This also opened new markets to ranches in the rich Powder River Basin.
Gillette was incorporated on January 6, 1892, less than two years after Wyoming became a state. Small coal mines sprung up around Gillette in 1909. The first major coal mine built was Wyodak, east of Gillette. During the 1970s, more companies opened larger surface mines in Campbell County, and currently there are 14 mines in the county. Wyoming coal is shipped to 36 states where 99.99 percent of it is used to generate electricity. Today, an average of 85 coal trains daily snake their way along the railroad tracks. The main reason Powder River Basin coal is in high demand is because it is low in sulfur, which equates to very low emissions.
In the 1940s, oil exploration began in the Gillette area, and the first commercial oil field discovery was 1948. Then, in 1956, the first oil boom in Gillette began with other oil and gas discoveries in the 1960s and 1970s.
The city boasts excellent parks, golf courses, recreational facilities and the state’s premier multi-use facility, CAM-PLEX. Residents rarely mutter the phrase, “There’s nothing to do!” as there are a variety of events offered throughout the year—from rodeos to fairs to concerts and theatrical productions to hockey games and music festivals. And, if you’re wild about wildlife, nearly 77,000 pronghorn call this region home, along with a multitude of mule deer, turkey, sage grouse and more wild animals.
- Chamber of Commerce
- City of Gillette,
- Campbell County
- Gillette College
- Gillette Airport
- Campbell County School District
This information was provided by the Chamber of Commerce of Campbell County