Chugwater Photos

From Wyoming Tales and Trails

This Page: Chugwater continued, Town of Chugwater, early settlers.

Big Horn Basin Black Hills Bone Wars Buffalo Cambria Casper Cattle Drives Centennial Cheyenne Chugwater Coal Camps Cody G. A. Custer Deadwood Stage Douglas Dubois Encampment Evanston Ft. Bridger Ft. Fetterman Ft. Laramie Ft. Russell Frontier Days Ghost Towns Gillette G. River F. V. Hayden Tom Horn Jackson Johnson County War Kemmerer Lander Laramie Lincoln Highway Lusk Meeteetse Medicine Bow N. Platte Valley Oil Camps Overland Stage Pacific Railroad Rawlins Rock Springs Rudefeha Mine Sheepherding Sheridan Shoshoni Superior Thermopolis USS Wyoming Wheatland Wild Bunch Yellowstone

Table of Contents
About This Site

Chugwater Depot, approx. 1917.

Note the hotel in the background. Current photo of hotel toward bottom of page. Other early ranchers and settlers along the Chugwater included the Clay brothers, William L. Clay (1855-1939) and Charles Edward Clay (1838-1905) from Virginia. Charles E. Clay, a Confederate veteran, served for a time as a sutler's clerk at Ft. Laramie and also worked as a freighter. He was married to Lulu Fingernail Woman, an Ogallala Sioux. Following Custer's defeat at Greasy Grass (Little Bighorn), the marriage ended in divorce pursuant to Indian custom, with Lulu Fingernail Woman returning to her people, joining Crazy Horse's Band. The Band surrendered at the Red Cloud agency on May 6, 1877. Charles later married Mary Agnes Abney of Cheyenne and was elected to the Wyoming Legislature. He later served as town marshal in Elma, Washington, where he died of gangene as a result of being kicked in the groin by a drunk. Two sisters also lived in the Chugwater-Douglas area. Ann Elizabeth Steele was married to John Raven Steele who worked for a time for the Swan Land and Cattle Company. Sally was married to Alvah Washington Ayres who owned the Ayres Natural Bridge, later donated by his son to the state. The Clay name survives as the name of a street in Chugwater. [Writer's Note: Clay family information courtesy of Gynger Cook, a descendent of Charles Clay and Lulu Fingernail Woman.]

Chugwater School, undated.

Chugwater, as a town was laid out by engineers for the Swan Land and Cattle Co. Ltd. in 1886. The town grew, however, slowly. The Masonic Hall was constructed in 1904 and the Grant Hotel opened its doors in 1912. It, however burned in 1916 and was rebuilt in 1917. With the boom in Carey Act lands in the early years of the 20th Century, new settlers came. Most, however left with the drought. Some stayed and by 1919 the town was incorporated.

Chugwater Band, 1915.

In addition to being the headquarters of the Swan Land and Cattle Company, Ltd., other ranches in the area included the Diamond Ranch, founded in 1880 by New York architect, horse breeder, and polo enthusiast George D. Rainsford, the Kelly Ranch, the Huff Ranch, and the Bosler Brothers. The Bosler brothers, James Williamson Bosler, John Herman Bosler, and George Morris Bosler, were originally from Pennsylvania and had ranching interests in both Nebraska and Wyoming. Frank C. Bosler, son of John Herman Bosler, was a partner of Alexander Swan in the Omaha stockyards and was a stockholder in the Ogalalla Land and Cattle Co.

1st Street looking north, Chugwater, 2001, photo by Geoff Dobson

The two-story building to the left is the old hotel, see next photo. Chugwater, unfortunately, is a town where the main business section has been bypassed by the Interstate just a few blocks away. On the day the photo was taken, the only sign of life was one lone cowboy who emerged from a building next to the museum and disappeared. The museum, itself, was closed and the drugstore across the street from the museum, where one may obtain a key, was not yet open.

View of Hotel, 1st Street, Chugwater, 2001, photo by Geoff Dobson

Note sheep wagon next to one-story building. Although sheep wagons are traditionally canvas-topped with wooden-spoked wheels with iron tread, many have been converted to automobile wheels and covered with metal.

Next page, Iron Mountain.