Perfect place, Washakie County provides resources
“In 1880, Chief Washakie once described Washakie County as the ‘Perfect Place,’” according to the Worland-Ten Sleep (WTS) Chamber of Commerce. “Our county is rich in natural resources with its majestic mountains and canyons, untamed badlands, clear, cold mountain streams, abundant wildlife and independent farms and ranches.”
Today, Washakie County is home to nearly 8,500 residents who call Worland, Ten Sleep and the surrounding rural area home, including many varied agricultural producers.
Washakie County’s 2,240 square miles are held by a combination of federal, state and private landholders.
Nearly 54 percent of the county is federal land, while 40 percent is privately owned. Many ranchers run on BLM lands, as well as their private holdings.
Nearly 5,500 people reside in Washakie’s county seat of Worland, ranking it the 13th largest city in the state.
The WTS Chamber of Commerce says, “Located 25 miles west of the Big Horns, Worland is a modern western community, which offers the ‘good life’ to residents and visitors.”
Worland serves as home for a number of nationally-recognized businesses says the WTS Chamber of Commerce, adding that Wyoming Sugar Company, Crown Cork and Seal, Pepsi-Cola and MillerCoors are all a major part of the community.
“The community depends on a mixture of agriculture, primarily malt barley and sugar beets, sheep and cattle ranching, oil production and manufacturing,” the WTS Chamber continues.
Local agriculture relies on companies like Wyoming Sugar Company and MillerCoors to sell their products.
“Warm and friendly, Worland is truly a western town to remember,” they add.
To the east of Worland, Ten Sleep is settled at the base of the Big Horn Mountains, and cattle and sheep production dominate the economic viability of the community.
“The local businesses are friendly and cater to locals and tourists,” says the WTS Chamber. “Ten Sleep’s name comes from its locations ‘ten sleeps,’ or nights, midway between the Sioux Camps on the Platte River from the south to a historical Sioux campsite to the north near Bridger, Mont.”
The WTS Chamber of Commerce boasts that the town’s atmosphere maintains a genuine western experience.
“July visitors may encounter original cattle drives that move through the center of town,” they quip. “Local cowboys and their horses have been photographed inside either of the town’s two saloons.”
At the end of the day, the small town’s location in the foothills of the Big Horns make it ideal for raising cattle and sheep, adds the WTS Chamber.
“The Ten Sleep experience is timeless and terrific,” they remark.
Ups and downs
Living in Washakie County provides benefits and challenges to residents and agricultural producers.
“As a farmer, one of the challenges that we face is the limited resource of ground,” says area farmer Vance Lungren. “The price of farm ground keeps going up.”
Limited resources in the form of water are also a challenge. Washakie County sees an average of 7.8 inches of rainfall each year, 21.1 inches of snowfall and 310 days of sunshine.
“We don’t get a lot of rainfall,” says Andrew Miller, “but we get by.”
At the same time, the climate is overall favorable, and Harry Mills of Red Reflet Ranch says, “If there is a calmer place in Wyoming, I don’t know where it is. We don’t have hardly any wind.”
Washakie County is known by some as Wyoming’s Artesian Water City, as many producers and landowners obtain water from artesian wells.
“Husky Oil Company may have been disappointed when they failed to strike oil at the 4,330 foot level, but their discovery was just as precious when the well produced a record volume of artesian water,” says the WTS Chamber of Commerce.
Husky Oil gave the well, which is located 23 miles northeast of Worland, to the city.
A second artesian well was added for backup later, resulting in a storage capacity of 6 million gallons.
“Local industry welcomes this fine artesian water supply,” WTS Chamber says, “and looks forward with assurance to a prosperous and growing economic future for Worland and Washakie County.”