Sheridan Photos

From Wyoming Tales and Trails

This Page: The founding of Seridan, Lower Main Street

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About This Site

Main Street, looking North toward intersection of Main and Works, 1887

The two-story building in the photo to the left is the Windsor Hotel operated by Benjamin F. A. Kueny (1842-1907). The hotel was torn down in 1896 and replaced by the Hotel Towns, later renamed the Great Western Hotel.

John D. Loucks, the founder of Sheridan.

With the opening of Northern Wyoming at the end of the Indian Wars, the area of present day Sheridan was ripe for development. The first cabin in the area of Sheridan was constructed in 1878 by Oliver Perry Hanna (1851-1934) at Big Horn to the southwest of present day Sheridan. Because of his fondness for chewing tobacco, Hanna was known to the Indians as "Heap "Spit." Hanna established a farm with Jno. Bennefiel on Goose Creek. Only two years before Hanna constructed his cabin, the area of the confluence of Big and Little Goose Creeks was the site of Gen. George Crook's base camp in the so-called "Horse Meat Campaign." Hanna had been a soldier with Gen. Crook's forces.

Sheridan was laid out in 1882 by John D. Loucks who arrived in the area from Miles City and purchased a land claim and cabin from George Mandel for $500.00. The cabin had been erected by Jim Mason in 1878. Mason sold the cabin to Frank Yates and "John F. "Bean Belly" Brown who, in turn sold the cabin to Mandel. The cabin is still in existence although it has been moved. Loucks was originally going to settle in Big Horn, a small town to the south-west of present day Sheridan. On the way to Big Horn, Loucks' horse gave out and he started to walk. He stopped to rest on the hill where the courthouse is presently located and was insprired by the view. Thus, Loucks drew a plat for his proposed town on the back of a sheet of wrapping paper. In a sense, then, Sheridan owes its existence to a worn-out horse. Based on Loucks' drawing, professional surveyors laid out the town, the plat was approved, and a post office established with Loucks as the first contract postmaster. Loucks' compensation on a commission basis for the first three months was $13.45. The City was incorporated two years later in 1884 with Loucks the first mayor. Loucks, a Civil War veteran, named the City after his old commanding officer. In 1888, Sheridan County was formed from Johnson County and the city was designated as the seat in a contest with Big Horn and Dayton.

As shown in the following sequence of photos taken from the same location as the above photo, with the arrival of the railroad in 1892 the City became the scene of rapid growth. The area became a center for coal mining in 1893. By 1900, it had a population of over 1500 and by 1910 a population of approximately 12,000. The area was the headquarters for the OW Ranch which was moved to the area by John Kenrick from Old Woman Creek in present day Niobrara County. Nearby, Malcolm and William Moncreiffe, established a ranch which provided horses for Lord Roberts' forces during the Boer War.

Main Street, looking North toward intersection of Main and Works, prior to 1908.

Main Street, looking North toward intersection of Main and Works, 1908. Photo by James and Perry.

Main Street, looking North toward intersection of Main and Works, approx. 1970.

Many of the streets in the original section of town were named by Loucks for other early settlers. Works Street is named after James Works, an early cattle drover.

West side of lower Main Street, approx. 1890. Photo taken from intersection of Main Street and Brundage.

The building on the right is Samuel A. Leaverton's General Mercantile. The Masonic Lodge met in the second story. Post office was located in the store on the first floor. The three-story building, located where the Wyo Theatre is presently situated, was Coffeen's Hall. The Hall was located upstairs and a grocery was downstairs. To its left was C. W. Garbutt's grocery. Compare with the next photo of the same location taken in 1909.

Lower Main Street, 1909, looking south from Brundage. Photo by F. J. Bardholtz.

In the photo, Leaverton's store has been replaced by the Bank of Commerce at 50 N. Main. The building also housed the Masonic Temple. By the time the railroad arrived, the town had five fraternal orders as well as a Grand Army of the Republic post. The building on the left is the Diefenderfer and Dinwiddie Hardware Store. Before moving to their new lodge building in 1910, the Elks met on the second floor.

Next Page, Sheridan Continued.