You are standing just north of the route taken by thousands of people, cattle and horses migrating west on the Lander Cut-off, the northern fork of the Oregon Trail, starting in 1858. None settled here then. By the late 1870s, cattle from the west were being trailed back to stock Wyoming ranges. The first Sublette County herds were a mix of western cattle but generally not Texas longhorns. In 1878-79, Ed Swan's PL, Otto Leifer's Circle, D.B. Budd's Quarter Circle Six, Hugh McKay's Sixty-Seven and A.W. Smith's Muleshoe outfits settled on nearby Piney Creek.
In the early open range days, Big Piney ranches pastured cattle east of the Green River in winter and west of the Green River in summer. The devastating winter of 1889-1890 killed up to 90 percent of the stock, and from then on, ranchers grew hay to feed livestock in winter. Hay meadows were built by clearing sagebrush, running ditches and irrigating the land. The Big Piney Roundup Association formed in the early 1890s to self-manage grazing on the open range, and other associations followed. With the creation of the U.S. Forest Service in 1905, grazing fees were implemented for the first time on public lands. In 1934, the Taylor Grazing Act was passed to manage grazing on all federal lands through permits and fees.
Sublette County's ranchers and grazing associations are proud of their history of stewardship on the range, which has helped keep our area beautiful and rich in wildlife.
For more information about Subllette County's historic ranches and agriculture industry, visit Green River Valley Museum in Big Piney.