Buffalo, Wyoming incorporated 138 years ago this month. – Sheridan Media


Downtown Buffalo today

Buffalo, Wyoming is the county seat of Johnson County and one of Wyoming’s most historic cities. Butch Cassidy no doubt roamed its streets, and Owen Wister visited Buffalo, stayed at the Occidental Hotel, and based many of the characters in his novels on people he met around Buffalo. Much of the Johnson County War was fought in and around Buffalo.

Although Buffalo was founded in 1879, when Fort McKinney was created, it was not incorporated until March 1884.

In a 1918 Buffalo Bulletin, he recounts how Buffalo got its name.

BUFFALO At the foot of the Big Horn Mountains lies the city of Buffalo. The first visitors to this part of Wyoming came in 1811, to pursue the fur trade in the great western county. Buffalo. which is built on both sides of Clear Creek, is a thriving modern city and contains about two thousand people….. After a few buildings came up and settlers started arriving, the residents decided to found a city, and of course from him a name. Each man received a piece of paper and on this piece he had to write the name he wanted. The slips were placed in a hat and the first slip out was the name of the new little town.

Will Hart, a native of Buffalo, New York, wrote down the name of his birthplace. His slip was the first drawn and so Buffalo was duly named, and not as so many people think, among the wandering bison herds. The first hotel in town was the Occidental and was built by Charlie Buell. At first it was a tent pitched among the trees. Just behind where the current building stands.

The Western Hotel

From The Democratic Leader (Dailyed), March 15, 1884, he speaks of Buffalo’s incorporation.

LAWS OF WYOMING, EIGHTH LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY. CHAPTER 11. Buffalo Incorporation of City Of, LAW to Incorporate the City of Buffalo. That it be enacted by the Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of Wyoming Sandction 1. That all that portion of the Territory of Wyoming in John’s Countyson, move to Delete Stream, immediately adjoining the American military reserve of strong McKinney, on the andast, as laid out and veneered For a city map by Juliet W. Hart, administratrix of the Estate of Urn of Verling K. Hart, deceased, under and by the name of Buffalo City, together with all additions thereto which may hereafter be made according to law, is hereby declared to be a corporation by the notme from the Thisty of Buffalo.

Section 2. The said City of Buffalo is hereby incorporated as a body corporate and politic, and invested with all the powers and attributes of a municipal corporation, and shall have power to sue and be sued; purchase and hold real and personal property for city use; to sell and transport any movable or immovable property, and to make many ordinances concerning the same which may be favorable to the interests of the city; enter into all contracts and perform all other acts relating to the property and affairs of the city necessary for the exercise of its corporate or administrative powers; have and use a corporate seal and change it at will; to exercise many other powers which are or may be conferred by law.

In Buffalo’s The Big Horn Sentinel newspaper in May 1889, there is an article about the new town.

CITY OF BUFFALO. The city to come from thand Awesome of AgricultureAl District of Wyoming. At the center of this rich agricultural, ranching and mining district, situated above and in the center of the most extensive coal deposits in the territory, and less than three miles from the base of the mountains of the Big Horn Range, lies the metropolis from northern Wyoming, the city of Buffalo. It dates its existence from 1879-80; in the last year it had a population of 20, and in April, 1883, when it was chosen as the county seat of Johnson County, its marvelous growth began, and at once it took the lead as the principal city of northern Wyoming , what position he has held ever since.

In 1884 it was incorporated by the Wyoming Legislature under a special charter and has a municipal government consisting of a mayor and five trustees. Its streets are lighted by electricity; it, has a complete water system, fire department, hook truck and ladder and hose carts. Its streets are well leveled and always passable; it has important sidewalks and crosswalks, fine brick stores, public buildings and residences. Its tax levy for three years has been only five mills; she never issued bonds, no longer owes (April 1889) a dollar, and has about 8.00 in the city treasury. In the center of Buffalo is the Johnson County Courthouse, a brick and stone structure. It was erected in 1883 at a cost of 40,000…connected and attached to the courthouse and prison annex.

The Johnson County Courthouse today

(According to the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office, the courthouse is a good example of the Italianate architectural style. It’s a two-story brick building, and it’s one of the oldest structures still standing in Wyoming. It was the sixth county courthouse built and the second oldest in Wyoming to retain its original character and is still in use as a courthouse today.)

The article continues: Buffalo has two hotels; the Occidental and the Cottage, both under the direction of AJ McCray, a pioneer in the city. Beginning with a small log cabin and canvas building in 1881 as its foundation, the present spacious Occidental has sprung up, with its sixty guest rooms and all modern conveniences.

The Occidental or the Beef, still in operation today, is a landmark in Buffalo. It offers authentic historic accommodations with all modern conveniences added. It includes a historic 1908 saloon and dining at The Virginian Restaurant.

Many famous and infamous people have already stayed at the Occidental. Owen Wister stayed there, as did Buffalo Bill Cody, Teddy Roosevelt and Calamity Jane. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid have arrived in town from their nearby Hole-in-the-Wall hideout. Famous detective and cattle killer Tom Horn was a frequent visitor, as were legendary sheriffs like Frank Canton and “Red” Angus.

The Western Bar

Cheyenne Daily Leader, December 24, 1880

Western Hotel, Buffalo. Wyo. Just open to the public; brand new and first class, capacity for 100 people. Travelers from the North will find everything for their comfort at the “Occidental”.

In the Buffalo Echo, January 7, 1887

BUFFALO. The rapid history and present state of the county seat . HIS LOCATION” Buffalo, the county seat of Johnson County, Wyoming Territory, is pleasantly situated on the banks of Clear Creek in the Clear Creek Valley, two miles east of Fort McKinney and about four miles from the Big Mountains. Horn. Its population is about 900 inhabitants and its number is constantly increasing.

HIS PAST. The first building erected in Buffalo was built by the Trabing brothers in 1879, and was devoted to the general merchandise trade and to relations with hunters and trappers and with the few cow camps there were then in that part. from the country. Due to its proximity to the military post and the advantages offered by the establishment of a general merchandise trade.

A sculpture on Buffalo’s Main Street depicting the conflict during the Johnson County War

Buffalo at once became the center of attraction for the “rustlers” of northern Wyoming and southern Montana, and on the banks of Clear Creek was soon gathered such a harsh element of humanity as a frontier colony is generally blessed or cursed. .

The article goes on to talk about the many “acts of violence” during the 1880s and 1881. However, in 1882, ….with the advent of a few more energetic and peace-loving citizens,… the city soon began to take on a different look.

Today, Buffalo is a thriving community of about 4,600 people and still retains much of the frontier flavor. This is one of the stops on the “Black and Yellow Trail” between the Black Hills and Yellowstone National Park. It is also a tourist destination, particularly Longmire Days, held in August, to celebrate Durant and Walt Longmire, the fictional town and hero of the TV show Longmire and the books of Ucross resident Craig Johnson.

Historic Buffalo Wyoming, incorporated 138 years ago this month.

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