Permanent settlers began claiming this region by the late 1870s, at the end of the Plains Indian wars. The nearby Goose Egg Ranch dates to 1877 when the Searight Brothers Cattle Company trailed more than 20,000 head of cattle into Wyoming Territory. Gilbert Searight filed a homestead claim in 1883 on 640 areas along Poison Spider Creek, just over the ridge north of this location. Operations like the '07 settled by Rufus Rhoades in 1881, Martin Gothberg's Ranch, established in 1885, the Speas Ranch, CY Ranch and others started when cowboys, foremen, or investors set out to claim their own spread.
The sheep and cattle that grazed here created an economy that encouraged the westward extension of rail lines across Wyoming. Livestock ranged over tens of thousands of acres, with ranchers helping neighbors at roundup time.
Gilbert Searight managed his holdings from a cut stone ranch house with a complex of rock and log outbuildings, shown in this photograph taken around 1920. After J.M. Caret (Wyoming's first United States Senator and author of the Wyoming statehood bill) acquired the property in 1886, the "Searight House" came to play a colorful role in the history of the nearby community of Bessemer. William Clark operated the house as a hotel with reputable accommodations during the Bessemer's days to promise, and offered saddle horses and buggies to visiting oil field speculator's "at reasonable rates."
The lasting identity of this cultural landmark is attributed to cowboys who found a goose nest on an island in the North Platte River and delivered its eggs to their cook. Livestock from the Searight Ranch were identified with an oval-shaped "Goose Egg" brand.
After author Owen Wister described the ranch house as a setting in his popular 1902 novel "The Virginian," its sudden fame drew curiosity seekers and souvenir hunters who degraded the house so much by the 1950's that it had to be demolished. The Goose Egg Ranch, which predates both Natrona County and Casper, remains an active cattle operation today.