Lander is one of the older town sites in
western Wyoming, having been founded in 1869 as a small army post named
Camp Augur, established to provide some protection for immigrants headed
west to California and Oregon over nearby South Pass. In 1875 the town
that grew up with the camp became Lander. In 1884, Lander became the
Fremont county seat.
Above - This is a very
old (and somewhat unclear) view of Lander and the Lander Valley,
taken sometime in the 1910s, I think. Somewhat to the right of
center in the photo is a grain elevator that can clearly be seen in
the later pictures below. The C&NW runs right-to-left just in
front of it.
supposedly in 1941. I wonder, though - the cars look like something
more out of the late 20s and into the 30s. Compare this to the later
pictures taken from about the same vantage point.
in the mid- to late- 40s. The grain elevator is now operated by the
of the 1950s. The ever-present grain elevator still towers over the
rest of the town. Lander looks amazingly like it did in the earlier
photos if you discount the color, doesn't it?
Lander in 1985, from almost the same spot. Lots of changes, but some
landmarks remain - the grain elevator, now loudly proclaiming the
owner, and on the very far left of the photo you can see the long
cabin that is also in the 1950s photo. Sadly, one of the things that
isn't there anymore is the railroad. No tracks.
back a little bit, here's Lander in 1908. The Apple City?
I think this photo must
have been taken from the grain elevator.
is one of my favorite prototype photos on the whole site. This is
the Lander C&NW depot, obviously in wintertime. A lot of what
might look like graininess in the photo is actually a light
snowfall. I don't know when the photo was taken, but it had to be
well before 1955. Sure looks cold outside, doesn't it! Looking at
the depot, you can almost feel the warmth of the waiting room from
Hotel Fremont in Lander in 1928. As I recall, it was still there
when I lived in Lander in the mid-1960s. This is one of Lander's
landmarks in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Hotel Fremont eighteen years earlier, in 1910. Appears that the
building has been re-faced sometime in the interim, doesn't it?
had been trying to get a railroad into town since it was founded, courting
first the Union Pacific, then the Chicago & North Western. Finally,
after the Wind River Indian Reservation opened to white settlers, the
C&NW agreed to come to town. Construction started out of Casper in
1905, and the first passenger train arrived in Lander on October 15, 1906.
There was a huge celebration at this event, and the county fair was
incorporated into the festivities. Schools were closed, and the mayor of
Lander declared a three-day holiday for the celebration.
During construction in
Lander, five houses had to be moved off the newly established
right-of-way, and the C&NW completely took over First Street.
The passenger train ran
once daily, and included full Pullman service from Chicago. Later on this
was downgraded to a doodlebug. On April 19, 1943 passenger service to
Lander was discontinued, 37 years after it began.
On November 10, 1972, the
last freight train ran out of Lander. The line between Riverton and Lander
For 66 years, Lander was
known as the place "where rails end and trails begin." Just
before abandonment, conditions on the line (and of the line) were
so bad that the twenty mile trip from Riverton to Lander took three hours.
Ten years or so later, Riverton also was abandoned by the railroad.