Copperton, Wyoming

Map of the Encampment District
Map of the Encampment District

Copperton History

Copperton was established in 1899 as the copper boom at the Encampment district was getting started. A post office was established in 1900 and discontinued in 1909.

Newspaper articles indicate that the town was "backed by men of capital" who hoped that it would become the chief commercial center of the district. An April 28, 1900 edition of the Rawlins Semi-Weekly Republican described town:

Copperton, started some eight months ago, and now boasting two hotels, two stores, one feed stable, one laundry, two saloons, twelve residences and about 50 people.

An article from July of 1900 put the population at around 200. It was likely Copperton never amounted to much more than what was described in these articles as not much was recorded about it and few photos survive of the town. Copperton was mostly abandoned by 1909 as mining faded in the district.

Conflict with Sheep Men

The following article appeared in the July 25, 1900 issue of the Laramie Daily Boomerang.


Shoot Up the Town of Copperton in Arizona Style.


The mutton whackers object to the promising mining towns that are springing up in their midst–miners are arming for a defense and there may be bloodshed-will lay in winter meat supply.

A special dispatch from Grand Encampment to the Denver News gives an account of trouble which has broken out between the miners and sheepmen as follows:

The new mining town of Copperton, twenty miles west of this place, was "smoked up" by a band of sheepmen last night. It was a plain warning to miners and prospectors to quit the western slope of the continental divide, and there is no doubt at Copperton about the determination of the sheepmen to hold uninterrupted possession of their ranges. Every unloop in the town was fairly riddled with bullets, and the miners were roughly dealt with, although no one was seriously injured.

The affair of last night came as a sort of climax to the events around Copperton of the past three weeks. and if the sheepmen make good their threats there is little doubt but that much bloodshed will result. The organization of the sheepmen in this movement is believed to be complete. There are over 200 droves of sheep in the immediate vicinity of Copperton, and each drove has at least one shepherd. The aggregate number of sheepmen in the district is estimated at 300 and among these are some of the hardest characters in the west.

The number of miners in and around Copperton is placed at 200; while only a few miles to the east are the mining towns of Rambler and Butte, with a combined population of perhaps 700. Aid has been sought from these adjoining mining towns and the residents of Copperton have sent a warning to the sheepmen that they, the miners, are there to stay, and that any further attempt on the part of the sheepmen to "run the town" will be resisted with bullets.

In the affair of last night. the inhabitants of Copperton were taken completely by surprise, the sheepmen galloping in on horses and with Winchesters and revolvers taking possession. The shooting that occurred was all done by the sheepmen, and was calculated more as a means of terrifying the miners and giving them to understand what might be expected, than of actually killing them.

Today there are many rumors afloat as to the attitude that will be taken by the miners, but all are to the effect that the sheepmen must quit the country at once or else free mutton will be found in abundance at every miner's cabin throughout the entire mining district. It is believed that thin threat is already being carried out, and that many miners are today laying in their winter's meat. There are practically no officers in this part of the country and the present troubles will probably be left to adjust themselves.

Grand Encampment: A Wyoming Copper District

Grand Encampment district Wyoming

The Encampment district is notable for the sixteen-mile-long aerial tram that linked the mill and smelter at the town of Encampment with the Ferris-Haggarty mine. At the time it was completed in 1902 it was the longest aerial tramway in the world. This article examines the history and mining towns of this Wyoming copper district. Continue reading... (members only content)

Western Mining History is the work of Aaron Walton. About Western Mining History

Western Mining History needs you! Please consider becoming a member.

Western Mining History Memberships