Find Real Estate Agents and Homes for Sale


Real Estate News --> Wyoming News

Coalition of caretakers keeping Wyoming's ghost towns alive


this eastern Wyoming town's founder passed it onto his daughter, who passed it to her kids. Two grandkids still clean the buildings. But at 80 and 78 years old, they're hardly kids anymore. They drive over to Jay Em from their homes in Glendo and Wheatland ...


Archived Story

Marjorie Sanborn, one of the heirs to the unincorporated historic town of Jay Em, Wyoming, poses for a photo Jan4, 2018 in front of the formerJay Em hardware and grocery storeSandborn's grandfather, Lake Harris, started the town in 1912 and her family still cares for the seven buildings that remainWhile Jay Em was never officially incorporated as a town, it had everything it needed to be one – a rock shop that produced fireplaces that still rest in Wyoming’s Capitol; three blacksmith shops that repaired wagon wheels and car chassis; a weekly newspaper; a bank that once was robbed and a gas station that once sold 6 gallons of gas for $2.04But better cars eventually took people to bigger townsThe population slowly dwindled Casper Star-Tribune via AP Christine Peterson Marjorie Sanborn, one of the heirs to the unincorporated historic town of Jay Em, Wyoming, poses for a photo Jan4, 2018 in front of the formerJay Em hardware and grocery storeSandborn's grandfather, Lake Harris, started the town in 1912 and her family still cares for the seven buildings that remainWhile Jay Em was never officially incorporated as a town, it had everything it needed to be one – a rock shop that produced fireplaces that still rest in Wyoming’s Capitol; three blacksmith shops that repaired wagon wheels and car chassis; a weekly newspaper; a bank that once was robbed and a gas station that once sold 6 gallons of gas for $2.04But better cars eventually took people to bigger townsThe population slowly dwindled Casper Star-Tribune via AP Christine Peterson jQuery(document).ready(function () { mi.leadAssets.init(); }); Business Coalition of caretakers keeping Wyoming's ghost towns alive By ELISE SCHMELZER and CHRISTINE PETERSON Casper Star-Tribune LinkedIn Google+ Pinterest Reddit Print Order Reprint of this Story $(document).ready(function () { mi.articleShareTools.init({ nextLinkedin: '19287', nextPinterest: '19265' }); mi.socialSharingScroll.init(); }); February 21, 2018 02:03 AM JAY EM, Wyo. They used to hold Saturday night dances on the top floor of the general store that grew so large the building started to sway. While Jay Em was never officially incorporated as a town, it had everything it needed to be one — a rock shop that produced fireplaces that still rest in Wyoming's Capitol; three blacksmith shops that repaired wagon wheels and car chassis; a weekly newspaper; a bank that once was robbed and a gas station that once sold 6 gallons of gas for $2.04. But better cars eventually took people to bigger townsThe population slowly dwindled. When it all closed down for good in 1976, this eastern Wyoming town's founder passed it onto his daughter, who passed it to her kids. jQuery(document).ready(function () { mi.renderNewsletterIframe.init({ container: '#newsletter-signUpWidget', url: 'http://x.email.macon.com/ats/url.aspx?cr=663&wu=189,http://x.email.macon.com/ats/url.aspx?cr=663&wu=194,http://x.email.macon.com/ats/url.aspx?cr=663&wu=200' }); }); Never miss a local story. Sign up today for unlimited digital access to our website, apps, the digital newspaper and more. SUBSCRIBE NOW jQuery(document).ready(function () { mi.calltoActionCtrl.init(); }); Two grandkids still clean the buildingsBut at 80 and 78 years old, they're hardly kids anymoreThey drive over to Jay Em from their homes in Glendo and Wheatland to give tours to visitors in the summerDonations are accepted. They're not sure who will take over once they're gone, so the oldest daughter, Marjorie Sanborn, has decided not to think about it. "He wanted to keep the town in the family so badly that I am just going to hang onto that wish of his as long as I can," she said. It's hard to know how many places like Jay Em still exist in WyomingThere isn't an official inventory on ghost towns — or nearly ghost towns. What is clear is the future of these places are left to a haphazard coalition of government agencies, casual volunteers and dedicated caretakers who stick out harsh winters and make long drives for their towns. It's worth it, they say, to preserve the remnants of Wyoming's hardscrabble past, to make sure future generations know what it took to put down roots here. - Unlike most towns that cropped up to support a coal mine, timber mill or railroad, Jay Em was created for homesteaders. Lake Harris, a 21-year-old from Wisconsin, filed for land under the Homestead Act in 1912 in an empty stretch of prairie along Rawhide Creek. He was one of the few people in the area who sold critical windmill parts, and success blossomed. "They had a bustling business with their hardware and supplies," said Sanborn, Lake's granddaughter. He started or eventually bought nearly everything in the town from the rock shops to the newspaper (run by his wife until her untimely death by flu in 1918). At its largest, Jay Em hosted more than 200 residents, including 67 European refugees from World War II at one point. Sanborn went to school for a time in the one-room building on the outskirts of the town. But by 1972, business had dwindled and Harris and his partner decided to retire. He left the buildings — his life's work — to his daughter and her children to maintain. - In 2003, Joe Ellis moved from Casper and his job at the Nicolaysen Art Museum to the high desert at the base of the Wind River Range to become one of four permanent residents of South Pass City. He never expected to become the superintendent of Wyoming's best known ghost town, which is part of the state parks systemFor hundreds of years, the site had served as a convenient point for travelers to pass through over the Continental DivideThen, in the 1860s, soldiers in the area reported they had found goldThousands of hopefuls flooded the area, establishing South Pass City, Atlantic City and Hamilton City in their wake. But the gold supply eventually wanedThe towns' populations followed suitOnce considered a possibility for the territorial capital of Wyoming, South Pass was nearly devoid of residents by the turn of the century. Now, it's left to the care of the state historic site's four full-time employees and a coalition of volunteersFifteen years after his move, Ellis has developed an affinity for the approximately two dozen structures scattered about his cabin. "It's a pretty extraordinary place," he said"It's high and harshThe people who came here were tough peopleThey really worked to make a life hereTelling that story is really exciting." Other Wyoming ghost towns are also managed by state and federal agenciesA coalition of volunteers and governmental entities — including the Shoshone National Forest, the State Historic Preservation Office and the Abandoned Mine Lands Division of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality — worked to restore the buildings of Kirwin, a remote ghost town in the Absaroka Mountains southwest of Meeteetse. Marit Bovee, an archaeologist with the U.SBureau of Land Management, helps to oversee the ghost town of Gebo, located about 14 miles north of ThermopolisAbout 1,200 people lived in Gebo at its peak in 1929But when the mines closed in the late '30s, the residents left the company town. In 1971, the U.SBureau of Land Management bulldozed many of the structures, though a few escaped destruction, Bovee saidA water tower, a row of stone houses and parts of the town's cemetery remainMining apparatuses and debris, like glass and pieces of metal, are still scattered around the site. Bovee's role is fairly hands offShe visits Gebo three or four times a year to check on the structuresMostly, she makes sure the site remains safe for visitors and keeps an eye out for vandalismIt's not a widespread problem, she said, but she'll occasionally find a fresh mark on a tombstone, or trash in the water towerA few years ago, it appeared that a group of people had a paintball game around the stone houses. "There hasn't been anything too severe," she said"(Gebo) is holding up to the elements very well." Ellis, in comparison, spends nearly every waking moment in his ghost townHe spends the summer guiding about 15,000 visitors through the town's restored buildings and hosting educational programming. But in the winter, when the tourists are gone and the town is silent and the 39 miles to Lander seem an odyssey, Ellis and the others turn to restorationWork has focused on the Carissa Mine and Mill and the surrounding structures since the state added that to the historic site in 2003Ideally, they'd like the mine equipment and apparatuses to look and function as they did in 1949. Ellis enjoys the solitude of South Pass and the lessons it offersThe town, and others like it, show Wyoming's roots. "It shows us where we've been," he said"With a boom and bust town like South Pass City, it's a pretty potent reminder for the boom and bust cities that are still riding that cycle." - Jay Em's roots show in the seven historic buildings still painted white with signs in the glass windows that say things like "BLACKSMITH SHOP 1929-1960s" and "GROCERY BUILT 1935." Sanborn, her sister, Hazel Mudgett, their siblings, children and grandchildren have spent decades working on the store, gas station and wood shop and other buildings. Shelves in the general store hold items you would expect to see like steel wool pads and soapOthers, like bottles of onion or garlic juice are a little more unique to the timeThe dark, wood floors are preserved as they were nearly a century ago, and copies of the Fort Laramie Sentinel and Jay Em News rest on a table for anyone interested. A sign propped in the window of the general store offers Sanborn and her sister's phone numbers for toursA sign on the highway points travelers to "Historic Jay Em." Sanborn has dreams of grants that could help support the nonprofit the family created a few years ago to keep the town operating as a historic siteThe town isn't empty — 16 people currently live near the center — but the only services offered are a post office and nondenominational church. Grants would allow them to fix the electricity and stop the leak in the rock shop that reminds Sanborn of Niagara FallsBut many grants require matching funds, which they're trying to figure out. "We don't know what is going to happen," she said recently"It's something I try not to think too much about, because when I'm gone I won't be able to do anything about it anyway." But while they can, she and her family will keep cleaning floors and dusting shelves, patching roofs and rebuilding walls and giving tours to anyone interested in hearing stories of Wyoming's past. A sign hangs in the rock shop at unincorporated historic town of Jay Em, WyoJay Em at one point had three rock shops, though they have long since been closedWhile Jay Em was never officially incorporated as a town, it had everything it needed to be one – a rock shop that produced fireplaces that still rest in Wyoming’s Capitol; three blacksmith shops that repaired wagon wheels and car chassis; a weekly newspaper; a bank that once was robbed and a gas station that once sold 6 gallons of gas for $2.04But better cars eventually took people to bigger townsThe population slowly dwindled Casper Star-Tribune via AP Christine Peterson lazyLoadingModule("inlinegallery-template-201257899", "inlinegallery-target-201257899", "gallery",500, undefined, undefined, undefined, "undefined", 201257899 , 1 ); Suggested for you lazyLoadingModule("zerg-template", "zerg-target", "zerg",500, undefined, undefined, undefined, "53342", undefined , undefined );   Comments   Needs to be visible to set the correct height of the comment componentI'm hiding it on document readyAppending it later did not work--> jQuery(document).ready(function () { mi.commentingFaceboook.init(); }); Videos SHARE COPY LINK More Videos Video Link copy Embed Code copy Facebook Twitter Email wpsRequire([ 'legacy-video' ], function ( video ) { return video.play([{"id":"198989859","publication":"macon","brightcoveId":"","asset_type":"videoIngest","url":"http://www.macon.com/news/business/article198989859.html","duration":"0:33","poster":"//www.macon.com/news/business/ffnoev-Chichester%E2%80%99s-on-Vineville-to-close/alternates/LANDSCAPE_768/Chichester%E2%80%99s%20on%20Vineville%20to%20close","title":"Chichester’s on Vineville to close","description":"Chichester’s on Vineville to close 0:33","displayDescription":"Chichester’s, a gift and antique shop which opened more than 30 years ago on Vineville Avenue in Macon, is expecting to close by the end of February, 2018.","videographer":"","credit":"lmorris@macon.com","published":1518053173,"sources":[{"src":"//dr6lcqo3bxtwa.cloudfront.net/binary/2018/2/8/1/1437582013143-p5k4ma/72e30aa1_859d_4366_9abb_f4d08a934e0a-1518053172338.mp4","type":"video/mp4"},{"src":"//dr6lcqo3bxtwa.cloudfront.net/binary/2018/2/8/1/1437580321678-6bjrso/72e30aa1_859d_4366_9abb_f4d08a934e0a-1518053172793.mp4","type":"video/mp4"},{"src":"//dr6lcqo3bxtwa.cloudfront.net/binary/2018/2/8/1/art_198989859/72e30aa1_859d_4366_9abb_f4d08a934e0a.m3u8","type":"application/x-mpegURL"}],"ads":[{"publication":"macon","tag":"//pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?ciu_szs=300x250&correlator=%5Btimestamp%5D&cust_params=sect%3Dbusiness%26id%3D198989859%26eid%3D201257904%26vidlength%3Dshort%26pl%3D&env=vp&gdfp_req=1&hl=en&impl=s&iu=%2F7675%2FMAC.site_macon%2FBusiness&output=vast&sz=400x300&unviewed_position_start=1&url=%5Breferrer_url%5D&vidlength=short&vpos=preroll","lang":"en","sz":"400x300","vpos":"preroll","cust_params":"sect=business&id=198989859&eid=201257904&vidlength=short&pl="}],"langCode":"en","brightcoveData":{"account":"","policyKey":"BCpkADawqM0PhCN6tCKCugXzM5zBpxSnq_OFmX1zrxdNPLieFPj7tkFzBcARFETI7Kr2lmkSMK-hKOuv7_pWJdbyZ8ZQoYQ4ebP7uhmuaYXW7mWsKxgOCjJPetbUN3ru39sSKoXjRL-0EJuY"}},{"id":"189264949","publication":"macon","brightcoveId":"","asset_type":"videoIngest","url":"http://www.macon.com/news/business/article189264949.html","duration":"1:17","poster":"//www.macon.com/news/business/eakyja-Amendment-does-not-allow-parking-in-yard/alternates/LANDSCAPE_768/Amendment%20does%20not%20allow%20parking%20in%20yard","title":"Amendment prohibits parking in some front yards in Macon","description":"Amendment prohibits parking in some front yards in Macon 1:17","displayDescription":"An amendment approved Monday by the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission would prohibit people from parking cars on the grass in their front yards.","videographer":"Linda SMorris","credit":"The Telegraph","published":1513044551,"sources":[{"src":"//dr6lcqo3bxtwa.cloudfront.net/binary/2017/12/12/2/1437582013143-p5k4ma/15ee9690_8682_4d03_b87f_08a036c55c04-1513044549336.mp4","type":"video/mp4"},{"src":"//dr6lcqo3bxtwa.cloudfront.net/binary/2017/12/12/2/1437580321678-6bjrso/15ee9690_8682_4d03_b87f_08a036c55c04-1513044550033.mp4","type":"video/mp4"},{"src":"//dr6lcqo3bxtwa.cloudfront.net/binary/2017/12/12/2/art_189264949/15ee9690_8682_4d03_b87f_08a036c55c04.m3u8","type":"application/x-mpegURL"}],"ads":[{"publication":"macon","tag":"//pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?ciu_szs=300x250&correlator=%5Btimestamp%5D&cust_params=sect%3Dbusiness%26id%3D189264949%26eid%3D201257904%26vidlength%3Dlong%26pl%3D&env=vp&gdfp_req=1&hl=en&impl=s&iu=%2F7675%2FMAC.site_macon%2FBusiness&output=vast&sz=400x300&unviewed_position_start=1&url=%5Breferrer_url%5D&vidlength=long&vpos=preroll","lang":"en","sz":"400x300","vpos":"preroll","cust_params":"sect=business&id=189264949&eid=201257904&vidlength=long&pl="}],"langCode":"en","brightcoveData":{"account":"","policyKey":"BCpkADawqM0PhCN6tCKCugXzM5zBpxSnq_OFmX1zrxdNPLieFPj7tkFzBcARFETI7Kr2lmkSMK-hKOuv7_pWJdbyZ8ZQoYQ4ebP7uhmuaYXW7mWsKxgOCjJPetbUN3ru39sSKoXjRL-0EJuY"}},{"id":"188039659","publication":"macon","brightcoveId":"","asset_type":"videoIngest","url":"htt

Trending Wyoming News:


  • LGBT anti-discrimination bill fails in Wyoming House
  • Are Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel married?
  • Google tools generated $2.9B in economic activity in Colorado last year, tech giant says
  • Homes with the Best Holiday Lights in South Orange and Maplewood
  • Lawmakers choose waiting game for penitentiary
  • Opposition slows permit process for new Wyoming coal mine
  • Wyoming Homes owner pleads guilty to theft charges
  • Player suspended from Belk Bowl for shoplifting at Belk
  • Wyo. cowboy culture inspires Chinese resort decor
  • Wall St set to open higher for first time in three days
  • Change Ups: MTM opens limitless time Youth House
  • Watch: This Prepper’s Paradise is For Sale
  • Wyoming makes top 10 of best states to do business
  • Rivers running high in central and western Wyoming
  • Group says Public in dark about cell tower plans in Grand Teton
  • New charges filed against Plainfield Township supervisor in real estate deal
  • Local Briefs: May 11
  • Your Dirty Questions Answered at The Car Wash Show 2017
  • Revisiting a shameful chapter in US history: Japanese-American internment
  • Laramie subs get it done, take home third