Lander, Wyoming

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Lander is a city in Wyoming, United States, and the county seat of Fremont County. It is in central Wyoming, along the Middle Fork of the Popo Agie River, just south of the Wind River Indian Reservation. It is a tourism center with several nearby guest ranches. Its population was 7,487 at the 2010 census.


Lander was previously known as Pushroot, Old Camp Brown and Fort Augur. Its present name was chosen in 1875 in reference to General Frederick W. Lander, a transcontinental explorer who surveyed the Oregon Trail's Lander Cutoff.

19th Century

In 1868, the Fort Bridger Treaty set the Wind River Indian Reservation southern border at the Sweetwater River. But by the early 1870s, conflicts were increasing between white settlers illegally on the reservation and the Shoshone. The U.S. Government had also learned most of the desirable land east of the Wind River Mountains was on the reservation. As a result, in 1872 Congress authorized a delegation to meet with the elders of the Shoshone, including Chief Washakie to negotiate the trade or purchase of lands south of the North Fork of the Popo Agie River. After several meetings at Camp Stambaugh in the summer of 1872, the tribe agreed to sell the southern part of the reservation to the U.S. for $25,000, $5,000 in stock cattle and a five-year annual salary of $500 to Chief Washakie. The next year in 1873 The Jones Expedition further explored and documented the area that would eventually become Lander while finding a route to Yellowstone National Park. The expedition documents everything from hot springs to oil reserves and hieroglyphs in the area. Several miles southeast of town near present-day U.S. Route 287 is Dallas Dome, the site of Wyoming's first oil well completed in 1883. The town was incorporated on July 17, 1890.

20th Century

On October 1, 1906, Lander became the westward terminus of the "Cowboy Line" of the Chicago and North Western Railway, thus originating the slogan "where rails end and trails begin." Originally intended to be a transcontinental mainline to Coos Bay, Oregon, or Eureka, California, the line never went further west, and service to Lander was abandoned in 1972. With the arrival of the railroad, Lander's population more than doubled between 1900 and 1910. At the turn of the century the town and surrounding valley were promising places for agricultural development due to the area's climate and potential for irrigation. At the time there were several new ventures around the town producing wool, wheat, oats, alfalfa, hay, vegetables, small fruit and in some cases orchards. However, a report from the State of Wyoming published in 1907 says agriculture around Lander only supplies local demand. In 1962 U.S. Steel opened the Atlantic City iron ore and mill, 35 miles south of Lander near Atlantic City The mine was a significant employer in Lander, but by 1983 it ceased operations.

21st Century

Lander continues to evolve and faces similar issues as many small towns in the Western U.S. Education and outdoor recreation play a large role in the town's economy with the Wyoming Catholic College and National Outdoor Leadership School both based in Lander. Though agriculture and resource extraction no longer play a large role in the town's economy, its population has continued to grow since the year 2000.


Lander's economy is based on an array of industries and like Wyoming as a whole is supported by substantial tourism. Outdoor recreation along with healthcare, education, construction and retail sales make up much of the economy. The tourism season is primarily during summer months and though Lander and Fremont County are not near any major Interstate highway, the county generates significant income from travel related taxes.Present day Lander is home to numerous state and federal government offices, including the U.S. Forest Service (Washakie Ranger District, Shoshone National Forest), the Bureau of Land Management (Lander Field Office), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and a Resident Agency of the Denver Field Office of the FBI, as well as the Wyoming Life Resource Center and the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality. A major bronze foundry, Eagle Bronze, is located in Lander, as is the headquarters of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and other environment and land-related non profit organizations including offices of the Wyoming Outdoor Council, the Wyoming office of The Nature Conservancy, the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, and Wyoming Catholic College.

2017 Economic sector statistics

Sectors of the Lander Economy in 2017

Arts and culture

The Lander Art Center downtown displays rotating art exhibits, holds biannual art fairs, and hosts varying art classes. The work of William Shakespeare is performed by the touring Wyoming Shakespeare Festival Company, a non-profit organization based out of Lander. The Lander Community Concerts Association has brought in various performing artists since 1947. Lander's local library is the main branch of the Fremont County Library System, the original local Carnegie library still stands as part of the current building. In the early 1990s, the St. Louis based chamber-pop band, Lydia's Trumpet, recorded their song, "Lander" on the cassette release entitled: Valentine Waffle. The song is based on the city, its founder, and a nostalgic summer road trip there. The town is one of the headquarters of Asthmatic Kitty Records, founded by Sufjan Stevens.

Annual cultural events

The Pioneer Days Parade and Rodeo takes place on July 3 and 4 every year. The Lander Brew Festival features samples from Rocky Mountain-area breweries and has been held since 2002.Lander is also home to the Wyoming State Winter Fair. In addition to Livestock showings, there are also plenty of rodeo activities to see or participate in. Other annual events include the International Climbers Festival, and the Annual One Shot Antelope Hunt.


Outdoor attractions near Lander include Sinks Canyon State Park, Worthen Meadow Reservoir, Shoshone National Forest, the Wind River Mountains, and the Red Desert. Additionally, Lander is home to a number of museums, including the Fremont County Pioneer Museum, which focuses on the history of the Lander area; the Museum of the American West, which maintains a complex of historic structures; the Sacagawea Cemetery, the cemetery is located near Fort Washakie, 15 miles north of Lander on the Wind River Indian Reservation; the Lander Children's Museum, with hands-on exhibits; and the Evans Dahl Memorial Museum, dedicated to the Annual One Shot Antelope Hunt. Several locations in Lander are listed on the National Register of Historic Places including the Lander Downtown Historic District, Jackson Park Town Site Addition Brick Row and the US Post Office and Courthouse-Lander Main


Lander's city government is made up of an elected mayor, six-member city council, city clerk, treasurer and other departments, committees and appointed boards. City elections are on a non-partisan basis with council members elected based on wards where they live with two council members elected for each ward.Since 1998, Lander and Fremont County have been represented in the Wyoming State Senate by economist/businessman Cale Case, a Republican.


Public education

Public education in the city of Lander is provided by Fremont County School District #1. Lander Valley High School is the main high school. It is located just west of Main Street after the demolition of the historic high school. Despite attempts to preserve the school the land was sold and is now a business complex. Pathfinder is the alternative high school.

National Outdoor Leadership School

The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) was founded in Lander and is headquartered in the city. Its Rocky Mountain branch operates out of Lander. NOLS operates the Noble Hotel on Main Street for its instructors, students and alumni.

Wyoming Catholic College

In 2007, Wyoming Catholic College, a four-year, coeducational, private college was founded in Lander. The college was only the second four-year brick and mortar institution of higher education ever in Wyoming. It was designed to give students a general liberal arts education via a Great Books curriculum, while allowing them to develop morally and spiritually in a small Catholic community. It uses an Outdoor Adventure Program to take students into the nearby Wind River Mountains to teach leadership, decision-making skills, and to ignite their imaginations. The college received its Apostolic Blessing in 2005 from Most Reverend David L. Ricken, DD, JCL, the Bishop of Cheyenne. As of 2019, Wyoming Catholic College received full accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission.


Health care

The Wyoming Department of Health Wyoming Life Resource Center (WLRC), originally the Wyoming State Training School (WSTS), a residential facility for physically and mentally disabled people, is located in Lander. The facility was operated by the Wyoming Board of Charities and Reform until that agency was dissolved as a result of a state constitutional amendment passed in November 1990.

Postal service

The United States Postal Service operates the Lander Post Office.


There is a small general aviation airport in Lander, called Hunt Field. Scheduled passenger airline service is available via the nearby Central Wyoming Regional Airport located near Riverton, Wyoming.

Law Enforcement

The law enforcement within Lander consists of the Lander Police Department.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.67 square miles (12.10 km2), all land.Sinks Canyon in the Wind River Range is close to Lander.


According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Lander has a warm-summer humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfb" on climate maps. The hottest temperature recorded in Lander was 102 °F (39 °C) on July 27, 1935, while the coldest temperature recorded was −40 °F (−40 °C) on December 19, 1924 and February 8, 1936.


2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 7,487 people, 3,161 households, and 1,932 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,603.2 inhabitants per square mile (619.0/km2). There were 3,385 housing units at an average density of 724.8 per square mile (279.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 88.0% White, 0.2% African American, 7.3% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 1.0% from other races, and 2.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.8% of the population. There were 3,161 households, of which 28.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.2% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 38.9% were non-families. 32.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.85. The median age in the city was 40.3 years. 22.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.3% were from 25 to 44; 27.3% were from 45 to 64; and 17% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.0% male and 51.0% female.

2000 census

As of the census of 2000, there were 6,867 people, 2,794 households, and 1,824 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,554.0 people per square mile (599.9/km2). There were 3,036 housing units at an average density of 687.0 per square mile (265.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.81% White, 0.15% African American, 5.99% Native American, 0.32% Asian, 0.70% from other races, and 2.04% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.48% of the population. There were 2,794 households, out of which 30.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.5% were married couples living together, 10.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.7% were non-families. 30.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.91. In the city, the population was spread out, with 24.1% under the age of 18, 7.1% from 18 to 24, 26.7% from 25 to 44, 25.5% from 45 to 64, and 16.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.2 males. The median income for a household in the city was $32,397, and the median income for a family was $41,958. Males had a median income of $30,602 versus $20,916 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,389. About 9.9% of families and 13.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.3% of those under age 18 and 9.3% of those age 65 or over.

Notable people

Jim Allen (born 1952), a former member of the Wyoming House of Representatives, who was born in Lander Keri Ataumbi (born 1971), Kiowa artist, who was born on the Wind River Indian Reservation near Lander Steve Bechtel (born 1970), a rock climber with a number of first ascents in his record; Born in Casper, as an adult he lives and works in Lander Cale Case (born 1958), economist, businessman, politician; born in Lander Mike Dabich (born 1942), professional basketball center who played one season in the American Basketball Association Clayton Danks (1879–1970), the model of the cowboy on the Wyoming state trademark, the Bucking Horse and Rider, is interred at Mount Hope Cemetery in Lander. Ed Drew (1865–1911), born in Lander, was an Arizona rancher, miner, and lawman in the final years of the Old West Teri Greeves (born 1970), Native American beadwork artist, was born on the Wind River Indian Reservation near Lander Lester C. Hunt (1892–1954), 19th governor of Wyoming, U.S. Senator known as an outspoken opponent of Senator Joseph McCarthy Ralph Kimball (1878–1959), former Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court, who lived as an adult in Lander Larry LaRose (born 1953), NASA flight engineer, shuttle training aircraft, shuttle carrier associate, is a native of Lander. Nate Marquardt (born 1979), mixed martial artist and current welterweight in the UFC, was born in Lander Barney McLean (1917–2005), alpine skier, competed in three events at the 1948 Winter Olympics, born in Lander Joseph B. Meyer (1941–2012), Wyoming attorney general and state treasurer was an assistant county attorney in Lander early in his political career Helen Mowery (1922-2008), Miss Wyoming 1939, stage, film, and television actress, born in Casper, raised in Lander Bob Nicholas (born 1957), Wyoming State representative from District 8 in Cheyenne, is a native of Lander Phil Nicholas (born 1955), Republican member of the Wyoming Senate, born in Lander Sacagawea (c. 1788–c. 1884), from the Lemhi Shoshone tribe; assisted Lewis and Clark on their trek of discovery across the northwest Todd Skinner (1958–2006), free climber, who lived in Lander as an adult to be near its dolomite cliffs Guy Trosper (1911–1963), screenwriter who was born in Lander and is buried there Seth Brady Tucker (born 1969), poet, who was born in Lander
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