Campbell County, in northeastern Wyoming, is part of the Powder River Basin, which stretches from the crest of the Bighorn Mountains to the western Black Hills. A perfect habitat for the North American bison and other large mammals, for generations the region was a valued hunting ground for American Indians, especially the Lakota Sioux.
The rectangle of present-day Campbell County, approximately 4,761 square miles, is mostly grassland over extensive sub-bituminous coal deposits dating from the Cretaceous and Tertiary Periods. Some of the coal deposits in the Powder River Basin are so close to the surface that early settlers could dig their own coal.
Ten thousand years ago, the first people came to the high plains to hunt buffalo and antelope. In more recent times, the Sioux and Crow claimed this area as their hunting grounds. In the 1880s, ranchers came to graze long horn cattle and sheep on the open range. They were soon followed by homesteaders, lured by the promise of free land.
In 1923, near the Peerless Mine, the Wyodak Company began developing surface operations. In 1925, Wyodak produced 33,579 tons of coal. Wyodak, purchased by the Black Hills Corporation on Nov. 1, 1956, and is considered to be the oldest continually operated coal mine in the United States, according to the Wyodak company website.
The Durham Ranch, located near Wright Wyoming, is a 55,000 acre bison ranch owned and operated by the Flocchini’s for three generations. The Durham ranch is one of the largest bison ranches in North America. The original bison brought to the ranch were brought over from Yellowstone National Park. Traveling either Hiway 50 or 59 you can see the bison as they range across the land.
Today, Campbell County is the energy capital of the nation. 30% of the nation’s coal is produced in area surface mines. The Coal Bed Methane industry is another major contributor to America’s economy and Campbell County’s prosperity. Ranching is the predominant land use; herds of cattle and sheep graze among large herds of deer and antelope. Every year in the fall, the abundance of wildlife attracts hunters from around the world.
Campbell County and Gillette are often cited among the top places to live both in Wyoming and the USA, in fact Gillette was named one of Livability.com's Top 10 Manliest Cities. From outdoor recreation to ballet’s and rock concerts Campbell County offers a bit of excitement for everyone.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway is an integral part of shipping in and out of Campbell County. With a large hub located in Gillette they are well located to haul coal out of the mines and other needed freight into Campbell County. Warren Buffet can be seen in Campbell County checking on his trains a couple of times a year.