Johnson County Wyoming Trails To The Past

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Billie Walsh
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Johnson County was organized in 1875. Encompassing the rolling plains of the Old West and the towering peaks of the Bighorn Mountains. It's a land rich in both history and scenery. A place of sheep herders and cattle barons, renegades and rustlers. Where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid holed up after their outlaw exploits. Where miners consumed with gold rush fever passed through on the Bozeman Trail. Where some of the most famous Indian battles in American history occurred. And where the Johnson County Cattle War took place. In April, 1892, it was the scene of a rangeland dispute which historians often deem one of the most notorious events in our history, between large cattle outfits and small stockgrowers (allegedly rustlers). It left its mark here in the late 1880s ... and that Owen Wister wrote about in his epic American novel, The Virginian.

The Outlaws of Early Wyoming

Johnson County Obituaries


Memoirs of Johnson County

A Little History of Johnson County Towns

Johnson County Pensioners in 1883

Johnson County Biographies


Johnson County Cemetery listings on Find-A-Grave
Johnson County Mail List on Rootsweb
Johnson County Message Board on Rootsweb
Johnson County Message Board on Genforum

Other Important Sources

County Clerk
76 North Main Street
Buffalo, Wyoming 82834
Ph: 307-684-7272
Fax 307-684-2708
Court Clerk
76 North Main Street
Buffalo, Wyoming 82834
Ph: 307-684-7271
Fax 307-684-5146


(Sources: Various Buffalo Bulletin articles; submitted by Kari)

There are several legends about the curve to Buffalo's main street. One is that the street follows an old Buffalo trail. Here is another. This story is taken from an article written in the Buffalo Bulletin-Heritage Edition-1999.
In 1879, Ft McKinney was just established on Clear Creek about 3 miles west of Buffalo and J. H. Conrad had opened a general merchandise store in what was soon to become the thriving little town of Buffalo. Conrad naturally wanted a road or trail past his store as an extra convenience for his customers. That same year, George Washbaugh was employed by a Mr. Powell, who operated a string of bull teams, freighting between Ft Laramie, WY and Ft McKinney, along the Bozeman Trail. Washbaugh was foreman of the freighting outfit.
On one of George's trips to Ft McKinney, he received word from J. H. Conrad that if he would bring down one of his bull strings and make a road past his place of business, he (Conrad) would give him a suit of clothes. Washbaugh came down with a string of ten oxen and three heavy freight wagons and made the trail desired by Conrad, collecting the new suit in payment. It is logical and evident that the oxen, following the natural grade of the hills, leading into and out of Clear Creek, made a very crooked trail. So it would seem that it was no particular fault of man, but just a string of oxen that were trying to keep things on the level that made Buffalo's Main Street so crooked.
The town site was located shortly thereafter and everyone apparently settled down along the trail made by Washbaugh and his oxen and it appears no effort was ever made to straighten out the street. Buildings began to spring up and as they did, they followed the contour of the old trail.

Adjacent Counties

Sheridan County | Campbell County | Converse County | Natrona County
Washakie County | Big Horn County
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Wyoming Trails has several counties and projects up for adoption. If you would be interested in adopting a county or project look at the Wyoming Trails. If you find one that you would like to adopt e-mail the State Administrator.

[ Being a County or State Administrator is fun and rewarding. If you have an interest in the history of Wyoming and the genealogy of it's residents please consider it. If you think "there is no way I can do this" there are many people ready, willing and able to help you. It's not near as difficult as you might think. ]
Last Updated, Tuesday, 10-Jul-2018 11:05:27 MDT
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