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Fremont County - TravelStorys

Roads Through Wyoming: US-287

Location Trip Time Travel Type
Wyoming 2.5 hours

Fremont County

Fremont County At 9,266 square miles, Fremont is the second largest county in Wyoming, coming in just behind Sweetwater County. To put it in perspective, Fremont County is almost the same size as Vermont, however we average a population of around 40,000 souls, while the Green Mountain State runs at over 600,000 people. The high point is the summit of Gannet Peak in the Wind River Range at 13,804 feet asl, and the low point is in where the Wind River runs into Hot Springs County at about 4600 feet asl. Fremont County was created from Sweetwater County in 1884, and as Lander was by far the largest town with 525 people, it became the county seat. Fremont County takes its name from John Charles Fremont, nicknamed the Pathfinder. Mr. Fremont made a name for himself exploring the west and went through what would someday be Fremont County in the summer of 1842. Also on that trip climbed Fremont Peak in the Wind River Range, which at 13,745 feet asl is the third highest mountain in the state. He then navigated the North Platte River, including what we now call Fremont Canyon and Pathfinder Reservoir. On his second trip he was nearly killed by Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors near Rawlins, but then continued west to explore Oregon, western California, Nevada and Utah. He made a third trip as well, and his writings on the West helped to open it to U.S. expansion after the Mexican-American War. John Fremont became a Senator from California and was the first Republican nominee for President, chosen as such in the 1856 primary. He barely lost to James Buchanan in the general election, but had he won, history would be quite different. Fremont's strong anti-slavery position would have come into power four years before the election of Lincoln and thus perhaps spurred on the Civil War just a bit sooner, and with different leadership. Fremont served as a general during the Civil War and then later became territorial governor of Arizona. He died in July of 1890 at his home in New York City. With rolling grassland and multiple rivers, the area now called Fremont County was known to be exceptional bison habitat. As such, it was the desired land for Chief Washakie and the Eastern Shoshone, and a large portion of the area was granted to that tribe in the 1868 Treaty of Fort Bridger. In 1878 the Northern Arapaho moved onto the Reservation, and though it has shrunk in size with a few major land sales, the Wind River Indian Reservation remains the largest federal inholding within the county. Probably Fremont County's greatest contribution to the world actually came before the county had been formed. In 1869, when Wyoming was still a territory, South Pass City was a gold boom town and second only to Cheyenne in population with as many 6,000 residents (general area). In that year a racist saloon keeper named William Bright was elected to the territorial legislature. His next door neighbor, a Ms. Esther Morris, was a big proponent of the women's suffrage movement, and she pushed him to grant women the right to vote. He brought forth the bill, going a step further and giving women the right to hold any office, as well. The law passed and in December of 1870 Louisa Swain of Laramie became the first woman to vote in a United States election. For her part, Esther Morris went on to be Justice of the Peace in South Pass City. Fremont County has two large towns, Lander and Riverton, and then a few smaller municipalities like Dubois and Fort Washakie. The eastern portion of the county tends to have more extraction and energy related jobs, while the western portion sees more people working in recreation and for the federal government. As its been for 150 years, ranching is a part of life all over the region. Roughly 175 miles of your drive on the Washakie Highway lies in Fremont County.

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