On my way home from my Black Hills excursion, having righted my course after a wrong turn led me 30 miles too far south down Hat Creek Road in search of old Fort Hat Creek, I found my tires back on blacktop and heading the right direction towards home. (I never did find Fort Hat Creek by the way, even though I was within 2 miles of it when I took the wrong fork of the road and ended up deep in the Wyoming nothingness! A deer, lazily foraging along the bottom of Hat Creek stopped and posed for a pic (see below), so startled by my appearance it stared at my with a look of confusion, wondering what a strange human type was doing so far from anything “human.” That’s when I knew it was time to turn around!)
Rolling through Lusk, then on through Lingle, I headed west for a stop at Fort Laramie, then further west, then north to the little towns of Hartville and Sunrise. My grandmother on my mom’s side was born in Sunrise, Wyoming in the early 1920’s- a small company town run by the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company. Her father was a miner who worked in the copper mine at Sunrise. The family soon left, rumor saying my great grandfather didn’t want his daughter to go to school with Italians, who composed a large portion of the population at the time.
Hartville and Sunrise are virtually one in the same town. Hartville was first settled by miners in the 1870’s, incorporated in the 1880’s, and has lived on, although just barely, ever since. Sunrise is along the same road, just about a mile up the narrow rocky canyon from Hartville. Today, all of Sunrise lies behind a gate, on private property. But you can look over the fence and still see many of the old buildings. Hartville, down the valley is a quaint, quiet, treed and green oasis in this rocky, sagebrush canyon, that proudly boasts it’s place in history as Wyoming’s oldest incoporated town that’s still alive. Many old buildings and storefronts from Hartville’s heyday line the tiny main street, and a few have had recent renovation work done. Others are left in disrepair and show the ravages of time. The surrounding hills are dotted with crumbling rock foundations and toppled wooden structures that remind the visitor of more booming times in the region.
Top 2 photos were taken on Hat Creek, Wyoming, the remainder were taken at Sunrise and Hartville, Wyoming.