Encampment, Wyoming, a small town with a population of approximately 500 year-round residents, has a rich history that dates back to the late 1800s. Once called Grand Encampment by French-Canadian trappers who rendezvoused along the Encampment River, this town played a significant role in the mining industry. In 1897, copper was discovered in the Sierra Madre Mountains just above the settlement, attracting hundreds of people to the area to try their luck in the mines.
A Smelter and a Tramway
The mining operation grew, and a smelter was built along the river. To transport the ore from the mining site in the mountains down to the smelter, an incredible tramway was built. The sixteen-mile-long tramway could carry almost a thousand tons of ore a day, which was impressive for its time. Today, part of the tramway is on display at the Encampment Museum, which is a must-visit attraction in the area. The museum boasts many other interesting displays, including the infamous two-story outhouse, and volunteers offer tourists a wealth of information on the area’s history.
The Grand Encampment Opera Hall
The Grand Encampment Opera Hall, over one hundred years old, is another must-visit attraction. Melodramas are still performed there at least twice a year by the Grand Encampment Opera Company and are highly entertaining for the whole family. One performance is held during the Wood Choppers Jamboree and Rodeo, an event held every year on Father's Day weekend in June, and is located at the Encampment Rodeo Grounds. In addition to the melodrama, visitors will enjoy wood chopping events and a rodeo.
The Willis House
Another unique attraction in Encampment is the Willis House. This two-story modified American Four Square style house was built in 1908 by Mrs. Lydia M. Willis to be a deluxe house of prostitution and the headquarters of the Willis business empire. However, Mrs. Willis never finished the inside of the house, leaving it as a mysterious reminder of the town's past.
Explore the Gateway to Medicine Bow Forest
Encampment is also the gateway to the Medicine Bow Forest on the south end of the county. Visitors can enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, and hunting in the vast forest, which covers more than one million acres of Wyoming's southeastern corner.
Encampment, Wyoming, has a rich history that is worth exploring. The town played a significant role in the mining industry and boasts many unique attractions that showcase its past, including the Encampment Museum, the Grand Encampment Opera Hall, and the Willis House. Visitors can also enjoy the great outdoors by exploring the Medicine Bow Forest, making it the perfect destination for history buffs and nature enthusiasts alike.