Author: Mary Kelley;Campbell County Rockpile Museum
There is an old saying that the Powder River was a mile wide; an inch deep; too thick to drink; too thin to plow, and yet it was fought over many times in the early settlement of northeastern Wyoming. The lure of free land attracted tough pioneer families and rowdy outlaws to the new town of Gillette. Bars and brothels competed with schools and churches for the cowboys of some of the largest cattle and sheep ranches in the state. The coal that was discovered close to the surface, which first supplied settlers through blizzards and prairie winds, now provides one-third of the nations energy. Ranching is still important in Gillettes economy but the abundant minerals have truly put Gillette, Wyoming, on the map.