Early Pinedale History
On September 7, 1895 Charles A. Petersen and his family moved to Pine Creek Flat, Wyoming. They took possession of a cabin probably built and abandoned by an early trapper. His nearest neighbors, a few miles away, were Tex Pierce and the Hoff brothers, Harry and Henry. Soon after, Robert Graham and Carl Lauritsen arrived from Council Bluffs, Iowa, and established a camp on the shore of Fremont Lake. Graham later moved into another cabin on 160 acres adjoining Petersen.
During the next several years, more families moved into the Pine Creek area, including William Shanley, J. Hill, a Hansen family, J. Sweeny, Verne Sill, and Albert Bayer among them. Charlie Petersen later wrote about this time: "we considered ourselves a community, and we applied for a local post office." The closest post office was Cora, eleven miles away. The government granted their petition, with the understanding that the town folks carry the mail from Cora without cost to the government and provide an office and name, and a postmaster. Petersen wrote, "my wife became postmistress, and of the several names sent in for the new post office, Pinedale, suggested by my oldest daughter, was chosen by the post office department. Christine also got the privilege of carrying the mail. Once a day, in all kinds of weather, she made the trip." Petersen kept the post office until he went into the saloon business, at which time, according to him, "I had the post office turned over to Mrs. Graham, and the office removed to their home, with the consent of the government."
Homesteaders were increasingly settling along the Pine Creek and surrounding areas. Mr. Albert Bayer took a contract to build the area's first ditch, which ran along the higher flats for the purpose of watering the flat below Pinedale and Pole Creek.
Starting in about 1896 and lasting a few years, a tie camp was established at the headwaters of the Green River, located by Kendall and serviced out of Cora. Machinery and freight passed through Pinedale on its way to these sites. Recognizing the growth potential of the area, Mr. Ben Walker brought up from Saratoga a portable sawmill and established it at Surveyor's Park about 12 miles above Pinedale. Logs milled here were used in the buildings in Pinedale and surrounding areas. This mill was later purchased and operated by Charles Petersen, where he also lost an arm.
In addition to being perhaps "Pinedale's" first settlers, Charles Petersen and his wife have one other (and thus far) undisputed first when their son, George B. Petersen, was born on October 17, 1898, making him the first white child born in Pinedale. Petersen and his family left the Pinedale area in 1905, after playing an important role for ten critical years in establishing this community. He sold his place to Dr. Sturdevant.
The town site was laid out by Charles A. Petersen and Robert Graham
in 1904. The story, again as told by Mr. Petersen, is as follows: "Mr.
Graham had a conversation with Mr. Patterson, who had, by then opened
a store near Mr. Noble's ranch, near the present location of Cora. Mr.
Patterson made a proposition as follows: If Mr. Graham and I would lay
out a small town site at Pinedale, containing five acres of Graham's
land and five acres of mine, and would give him one-third interest in
the town site, he would build a store and put in a general stock of
merchandise to the value, if I remember rightly, of $5000. Mr. Graham
and I assented. I secured a surveyor, and the town site of Pinedale
became a town on paper, (owned by us three), and is so recorded in the
County of Fremont.
"Mr. Patterson started to build a good-sized store building on
the land. With the consent of the other owner we donated four lots for
the school purposes of the district. I sawed material and built a one-room
school house on the land. I told the school board that in return for
the land I would donate the building, and, as we had already donated
the lots, the board accepted with thanks. That enabled us to have fall
and winter school.
"Mr. Patterson had a relative, I believe by the name of Watts Brandon, who was an able young married printer and newspaper man. The town board, as an inducement, gave him two town lots to come and start a small community paper. I agreed to give him a proper price for the first paper off the press, and I believe several others did the same."
These were not the first buildings in "Pinedale", though. Charles Petersen's first paid employment in the area was freighting for the Vible and Broderson's store at New Fork. While in Rock Springs on one of these freight runs, it was suggested to Petersen that he start a bar in his new home "town". The Rock Springs liquor wholesaler would supply his business if Petersen first constructed a building. So, he built a small log cabin for the bar, and with the wholesaler's backing, this became "Pinedale's" first business. This was probably located on his ranch, and not in the area later donated to become part of the town.
According to Petersen, it was "a roaring success-with accent on roaring. In spite of all the shooting and drinking there never was a man hurt in the whole time I ran the saloon. So far as I know it was the same with the Falers Brothers who were my successors."
C. Watt Brandon, though, claimed to have built the first building in Pinedale. In his story years later in the Kemmerer Gazette, Mr. Brandon wrote: "Memories of other days were brought back to me the other day when the Pinedale Roundup arrived with a picture on the first page of the first building completed in Pinedale, the office of the old Pinedale Roundup built by me in August, 1904. It was in that building, erected of logs , and with a dirt roof, that I spent four of the fastest years of my life, in a country more than 100 miles from the railroad, without telephone, telegraph or motor vehicles. The building which was still owned by Barney Tibbals to whom I sold it, was destroyed by fire several years ago."
Yet another source claims Pinedale's first building was erected by the government on the corner of Main and Lake Streets by the Forest Service. According to the Pinedale Roundup at the time, though, this building, which was also used as a drug store, wasn't built until the spring of 1905, not making it the first after all. Soon after this, Zeph Jones, the Forest Service Supervisor from 1905 to 1908, and Spicer had a store, moving a building in from the Belnap Place on Carl Jorgenson's home place in Cora. (Or did they buy Patterson's Store?) This latter building was incorporated into the building which stands today on the corner of Main and Franklin and occupied by the Rio Verde Engineering offices. (Franklin Street was named named for the Patterson's son.
The Woodmen of America built the town's first two-story building (26' X 60') when they built their new Woodman Hall in town on the corner of Franklin Avenue and Pine Street, and was also the Old Masonic Lodge. This was their second building in the area. In the fall of 1904 they succeeded in getting enough members to get a charter, including Mr. Peterson. They built a log cabin on Willow Creek to be used for lodge meetings. It was also used for community meetings and a summer school. Their new two-story building in town was completed by Christmas 1904 and was first used to host the Woodman Dance, a Christmas party, in -5 degrees with no heat! This building also served as the post office and a community gathering place for social events. It was later torn down and rebuilt on the same location using the same logs and again housed the post office and the town's first pharmacy. For years, the post master of Pinedale was Kit Carson. He helped move the post office to its present location. The building still stands and is now Coffee Etc., after recently being Sweetwaters. The pharmacy was moved by Sonny Korfanta to his new building where Western Trails Boutique is now located on Main Street. Actually, Sonny built it twice,having lost his first drug store to fire.
Also in 1904 the Sprague Hotel was built, all part of a burgeoning town in 1904. The first town electric light was here by September of 1904 following in January 1905 with telegraph lines then telephone lines in March of 1905. By the end of that year a bridge was complete over Pine Creek, making transportation to and from here easier. Road work had been a major push for the community, especially with the introduction of the areas first automobiles, which began in 1907. The first auto on Pinedale Streets was reported by the Pinedale RoundUp in August 14, 1907 when a Gale 27 Horse Power weighing 1900 pounds made the trip to Pinedale from Rock Springs in seven hours.
Why did the town grow so quickly? "Boosterism", which had hit much of the West, seemed to also be at work in Pinedale. Boosterism is a term given to this turn-of-the-century activity of trying to lure people to your area so to have a large community. Advertisements about such communities would "boost" about the area, hopefully entising the migration. Early "developers" of Pinedale seemed to quickly establish community necessities, such as a Post Office, store, roads, and even electricity. In 1909 the Pinedale RoundUp printed, "The Green River Valley affords the Best Opportunity for raising of any part of the state. Now is the time to get cheap land" and "Pinedale is the most centrally located of any point of the upper Green River, come and get in on the ground floor." (Don't many of us wished we had relatives that did.)
Tourism was also promoted from Pinedale's earliest days. The Pinedale RoundUp touted the first tourist of the season arrived in June 1905. The same issue reported 10,000 trout were planted in Burnt Lake and town lots 25' X 100' were on sale for $25.00. Fremont Lake was also busy with several boats already launched. There was even discussion in June 1907 that the Railroad was to be built here. And there was an attempt to build a new town called "Tourist City" near Cora. At the same time a Recreation Park at Fremont Lake was proposed. By 1911 the Commercial Club was formed in Pinedale. By year's end they had the editor's support when he encouraged folks to "shop at home." (Sound familiar?)
"Civilization" is often judged to have arrived when a community builds a church. The Congregational Church was organized in July 1907 and their church was built a few years later on the corner of Mill Street and Tyler Avenue. Pinedale's first church was built on land donated by L.H. and Etta Hennick. Some of the original church remains in the parsonage house, but most of the church has been remodeled several times throughout its almost one-hundred year history. Much of the town's social life was centered around the Community Church. Meetings, social events, plays, and even school was conducted in this church. (It wasn't until 1940 that Pinedale had it's second church, a Catholic Church, built on the corner of Franklin and Magnolia, and since relocated to Sublette Avenue.)
By 1908 Patterson plats were added onto the town on the north, east, and south. The town increased in size by 20 acres when these plats were added.
Pinedale was incorporated February 12, 1912. In early 1911, C.F. Patterson began running editorials in his paper, The Pinedale RoundUp, advocating incorporation. The 1911 Pinedale census lists the population "around 183." Of these voting residents, 30 voted in favor of incorporation while only 2 cast votes against the referendum. Zeph Jones, Forest Service Supervisor, was elected Pinedale's first mayor. Within a few months, in March 1912, the State Bank of Pinedale was incorporated. In May of 1912 the seal of the town with a Pine tree was adopted.
Relative to other communities in what is now Sublette County, Pinedale is one of the "newer" towns. Big Piney was established in 1888, Cora in the 1890s, Kendall had an established post office by 1899, and Daniel was established in 1900. Only Marbleton was established as late as was Pinedale, in 1912, but that's another story.
As the population continued to grow, so did the town. More stores,
saloons, a blacksmith shop, and a school were among the next buildings
erected. All the original buildings on the Pinedale townsite were built
of logs for the first few years, some squared and others just native.
Irrigation ditches ran down each side of the street, furnishing water
for domestic use and irrigation. "By experiments we found that
pine trees set out in August with plenty of roots were the most successful"
remembers C. Watt Brandon, years later.
Eventually, new ideas prevailed, not only by the "pilgrims", but by successive waves of "imports." The town continued to change and thrive, when many in the county didn't. Roads continued to improved especially in1914 when a group of Pinedale Boosters went to Rock Springs to meet with their Commerical Club about construction. Perhaps the biggest boost to Pinedale, though, came in 1921 when it narrowly defeated Big Piney for the county seat. With this position, of course, came the building of the court house.
One of the well remembered early Pinedale landmark was the Fardy Hotel, located where Stockman's is now. According to long-time resident Paul Hagenstein, the Fardy Hotel was the "epicenter for carousing, boozing, and gambling." The hotel was run by Mrs. Ida Fardy who is remembered as a big woman and always wore denim dresses and aprons with big pockets, where she kept her money. The saloon and gambling hall were located in the back rooms of the hotel. Some customers patronized both businesses, when they drank too much and ended up staying the night. After quitting the hotel and bar business she moved to the eastern edge of town to an area then called Fardyville.
Bars were a more popular business in those early years. In addition to the Fardy Hotel, a person could also drink and gamble at Jack Mudd's place, located where Kat's Steakhouse is now. There was also the Fremont Saloon, infamous for the murder of the barkeep who was stabbed with an ice-pick through the heart. It was never determined what the motive for this killing was, nor was the murderer ever determined.
Many more businesses have come and gone in the ninety short years of
Pinedale's history. Much, though, that was begun in those first ten
years continues to be of concern for our community. The community is
still largely supported by agriculture, the federal government, and
tourism, just as it was in the beginning. May we continue to thrive
in the next 100!
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