Hoofprints of the Past Museum

kaycee-text-strip.jpg (24147 bytes)
Local History

Kaycee Area Chamber of Commerce P.O. Box 147, Kaycee, Wyoming 82639
Telephone: (307) 738-2444 ∙ E-mail:
kayceechamber@rtconnect.net

barbed_wire-640.jpg (17121 bytes)

Home

About kaycee, Wyoming

Local History

Calendar of Events

Business Directory

Community Facilities

Harold Jarrard Park

Hunting & Fishing

Kaycee Town Council

Photo Gallery

Links

Contact Us

Kaycee, Wyoming
Professional and affordable web site development for the Cowboy State!

HISTORY OF KAYCEE

     Where in Wyoming could one find a more historically rich and typically western spot than the great little town of Kaycee on the Middle Fork of the Powder River in the heart of the stock-raising area of Johnson County? It is chock full of interesting historical data. The town emerged during some of the wildest of Wyoming's history and even today, boasts itself as a true wild west town, complete with characters that seem right out of the 1800's.

     The first homesteader was John Nolan who put up his ranch along the Powder River.  The brand he used was KC.  During the Cattleman's Invasion of 1892, the Nolan Ranch was the scene of one of the most cowardly and brutal murders in the history of the west. 

The Killing of Champion and Rae

     On April 10, 1892, the "Cattlemen" burned Nolan's ranch house and murdered Nate Champion and Nick Ray, who were leasing the ranch from Nolan at the time.  This was part of a plot to scare the smaller ranchers into leaving Wyoming to the sole use of the large outfits so they could let their herds of cattle have the miles and miles of unfenced grazing land.  To this day, this lawlessness has gone by without due punishment.

     In 1896, Jim and Jesse Potts decided to build a blacksmith shop at the crossroads where the road from Buffalo to Midwest crossed the Powder River.  It was only a short distance east of the burned Nolan building.  This point was ideal for a business location.  Besides being on the main road, they would also have the trade from up and down the river.  It was right on the road to the Hole-in-the-Wall country.   Logs were brought down from the pine ridge, but before they could commence work on the blacksmith shop, George Peterson talked them into selling the logs to him.  He then (in 1897) built the first building, a saloon, in what was to be the city of Kaycee.   He located it on the spot where the post office later stood - the building south of the Grange Hall.  In approximately 1928, this building burned down.  The blacksmith shop was eventually built on the river bank in back of the Grange Hall.   The Potts brothers sold it and it is possible it changed hands twice before O.A. Parker became owner of it.  He moved his business down where the hotel and cafe now stand, on the east side of Main Street.

     From all records, the City hall (present Library) is the oldest building in town.  Although it was erected on what is a part of the present townsite, it was built about a quarter of a mile west of town and moved to its present location.  The walls are made of hand-hewn logs, almost two feet thick.  An unusual bit of fact about this building is that it has an escape hatch and tunnel leading out into an adjacent draw.  It is a grim reminder of the lawlessness of the west and evidence of the need for a quick exit in case of undesirable company at the front door.

     The oldest residence built in town was the Gordon Ellis house.  It is a little log cabin located out back of the Red Horse Station.  For several years it has been known as the "Goat House" since Chet Hall once housed goats in it.  Since then, this house has been renovated, and is now used as living quarters.

     About this time, the first store was established.  According to J. Elmer Brock, "On September 7, 1897, the Powder River Commercial Company was incorporated.  It had a capitalization of $20,000 and was under the management of five trustees. They were R.E. Hasbrouck and Fred Hasbrouck of Buffalo, Wy; James Rinker and A.L. Brock of Mayoworth, Wy and George Kaltenbach of Griggs, Wy."  That building is now the Grange Hall.  After the store became an established business, the need for a post office became evident.  Previously, all the mail was routed through Buffalo to Mayoworth, down Kaltenbaugh draw to the Griggs post office., which was located west of Kaycee on what is now the Art Haines ranch.  Everyone wanted the name of the post office to be "KC", the brand of the Nolan ranch but the government required them to spell it out, resulting in "Kaycee".  The first postmaster was Andy Kennedy.

     The town of Kaycee was incorporated in 1906.  The first church was organized in February 1918, under the jurisdiction of the Methodist Church.  Prior to that, the only religious messengers the community had were circuit riders and cowboy preachers.

     Kaycee today is a town of about two hundred and forty.  In addition to livestock raising and farming, great interest is centered around the oil fields, which are expanding daily.  The bentonite and uranium deposits are also vitally important.  Hunting has become important in the Kaycee area and helps make us the biggest little town in Johnson County.  We are so historically rich that no matter how modern the city becomes, the old landmarks cannot be destroyed!