Welcome to the town of
Elk Mountain, Wyoming
Elk Mountain History in Brief
Population: 192 -- Elevation: 7,264 feet
Lying in the shadow of its 11,156-foot namesake, the settlement of Elk Mountain, named after Sioux Chief Standing Elk, is a quiet community of cottonwood-lined streets, picturesque buildings, with world class trout fishing right downtown. Much of the historical significance of the Elk Mountain area lies in the development of a transportation network linking the east and west coasts. The Medicine Bow River crossing was used by the John C. Fremont expedition of 1843. On August 2nd of that year, Fremont's party camped in the proximity of the "Medicine Butte", an early name for Elk Mountain. The river would become a major crossing for immigrants and stage travelers.
In 1850, the Stansbury expedition, led by famed mountain man Jim Bridger, crossed the Medicine Bow farther north seeking a route for wagon travel. Later, in 1856, Lt. F.T. Bryan, discovered regular use of Stansbury's route and suggested it be used for the Overland Stage started by Ben Holladay. By 1862, the operation was imperiled by constant Indian attacks. Holladay chose to move the line southward, back to the Medicine Bow River Crossing, where he built a stage stop.
In 1862, Fort Halleck was built on the Overland Stage route a few miles west of Elk Mountain to protect travelers passing through this region. The fort was named after Major-General Henry G. Halleck, a key military aide to President Lincoln. The government maintained the fort from 1862 to 1866, when it was decommissioned because the diminishing Indian threat. The owner of the stage stop found a sufficient volume of trail traffic to maintain a toll bridge, although eventually stage traffic waned.
Elk Mountain's first mercantile store was constructed in 1902 using lumber from the Carbon Timber Company. The still standing structure is in current use as a caf‚ named The Crossing. In 1905 the Elk Mountain Hotel was built by John S. Evans, on the property previously used by the Overland Stage Station. The building's architecture is Folk Victorian style, reminiscent of what was found on the frontier during that time. Next to the Hotel stood the Garden Spot Pavilion, which was host to such notable entertainers as Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, and Lawrence Welk. These entertainers inspired hundreds to "jump on and ride" the Garden Spot's magical dance floor. The Hotel property served as an important component in the economic and social life of the Elk Mountain community, as the lodging, mining and livestock industries boomed. The property enjoyed a steady clientele and became a way-station for entrepreneurs and laborers who traveled here for the timber, mineral and ranching industries. The recently renovated 4-star inn still stands where it was first constructed almost 100 years ago, welcoming guests year-around, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Sitting as it does along the banks of the Medicine Bow River, Elk Mountain is a Mecca for world class trout fisherman from across the country. Visitors interested in beautiful scenery should take the round-the-mountain drive on Pass Creek Road as it is an area of stunning vistas teeming with wildlife. Elk Mountain has a variety of activities for each season, some of which also include hunting, snowmobiling, hiking, skiing, and camping. Please take the time to come visit us, we look forward to seeing you.