Big Horn Basin

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From Wyoming Tales and Trails

This Page: Henry Clay Lovell, Town of Lovell.



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About This Site


Lovell, looking east, approx. 1920.

In the 1880's the Big Horn Basin began to be settled. In 1879, Henry Clay Lovell (1837-1903) trailed cattle into the Basin. The follwing year Wolfgang R. "Jack" Copmen (1850-1907) on behalf of Lovell brought in a herd from the Grand Ronde Valley of Oregon. Copmen later established his own ranch on Shell Creek which he named "Cloverly." After Copmen died, his ashes were spread in the canyon. There a butte is named "Copmen's Tomb." The name Cloverly lives on in the name of a geologic formation which took its name from the post office.


Copmen's Tomb, U.S. Highway 14, 1930's. near Shell, Wyoming.

The Postcard is in error on th spelling of Copmen. In 1883, Lovell established a ranch on the No Wook Creek. The ranch was financed by Anthony L. Mason of Kansas City and was, thus, named the M L after its two owners. Mason, a lawyer, was a financier and merchant with his fingers in a number of pies. Among his many pies were steamboats on the Missouri River including the A. L. Mason. The A. L. Mason was designed the beat the railroads on the cost of freight and was 252 feet in length and 52 feet in width. Lovell was a Topeka, Kansas, stock dealer. During the period 1871-1879, Lovell also had a contract with the Army for frieghting supplies from Kansas to New Mexico Territory. The freighting contracts ended with the arrival in 1879 of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad to Law Vegas, New Mexico.


Shell Canyon. Photo by Wm. P. Sanborn

The highway is visible on the left in the photo. Thus, the ranch was named for both Lovell who provided the work and know-how and Mason who provided the money. Notwithstanding that the ranch lost half of its herds during the great die-off of the winter of 1867-68, the ranch survived. At one time, the ranch ran some 25,000 head of cattle on a range extending from Thermopolis north into Montana.


Chimney Rock, formerly White's Monument, Shell Canyon.

Near the confluence of the Stinking Water (present-day Shonshone River) River and Sage Creek, Josiah C. Cook (1858-1914) established a road ranch which in 1888 was designated as a post office. The Post Office was named after Lovell. Later Lovell, himself, was the postmaster of nearby Kane named after his foreman Riley Kane (1824-1914). In the early 1880's Kane had been a prospector at Goose Creek (Present-Day Sheridan). He and another prospector from Goose Creek, James White, with a third man went prospecting and trapping over the winter of 1881 in Shell Canyon to the east of present-day Graybull. At the end of the winter, Kane went for supplies to Lander 200 miles to the southwest over the difficult Birdseye Pass. While Kane was gone, some cowboys discovered the murdered body of White. The remainng supplies, animals, as well as the third man were gone. When Kane returned unsuccessfully searched for the third man. At the lower end of Shell Canyon is a chimney rock originally call "White's Monument" after the murdered James White. The rock is know known as as Chimney Rock. White is remembered in the name of nearby White Creek.


Lovell, 1929.

In 1896 at the age of 23, Abraham O. Woodruff, was ordained as an Apostle in the Mormon church. Woodruff assisted in the settling of new communities and organizing stakes. Thus, not withstanding the earlier post office, Lovell in reality traces in beginnings to the coming of the first Mormon settlers led by Byron Sessions and charles A. Welch to Lovell and the nearby towns of Cowley and Byron about 1900. In 1902, Haskell S. Jolley organized the Lovell Cooperative Mercantile Co., and the Lovell Investment Co.n In the same year, 1902, the first school house was built. In 1904, the Church sent Woodruff to visit Mormon settlements in Mexico. On June 7, 1904, Woodruff's wife died of smallpox. Thirteen days later, Woodruff also died from the same disease. In 1906, Lovell was incorporated as a municipality.


Great Western Sugar Plant, Lovell, 1930.

In 1916, the Great Western Sugar Company established a sugar plant in Lovell. The increase in sugar beet production required an increase in the number of workers to do the "stoop" work of blocking and thinning the beet. Additionally, harvesting the beets required hand lifting and topping; that is although the beets could be mechanically loosened, they were required to be actually lifted out of the ground and the tops cut by hand.


Big Horn Glass Company Works, approx. 1920.

Additionally, a glass works and a bentonite plant were established. The glass works failed in 1921.


Interior, Big Horn Glass Company works, approx. 1920.

Next page: South Pass City.