Wind River Basin


From Wyoming Tales and Trails

(continued from preceding page)

This page: Shoshoni, B. H. Aronson, Asmus Boysen, the Town of Neble.

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Table of Contents
About This Site

Barney Aronson's Pilsner Saloon and "Shoshoni Locating Agency," approx. 1906.

Even before the railroad arrived, the town was promoted nationally by Barney Aronson's Shoshoni Pioneer Location Agency. Advertisements appeared in newspapers throughout the United States.

Advertisement for Shoshoni Pioneer Locating Agency, Los Angeles Herald, June 5, 1906.

A "locating agency" was a real estate agency which rather than selling property as an agent of the seller, represented buyers in locating property. Aronson's locating agency charged a buyer $25.00 for locating property.

B. H "Barney" Aronson (1861-1944?) joined the crowd moving from Casper where he had operated a wholesale and retail beer business as agent for Fremont Pilsner Beer. The Fremont Brewery was in Fremont, Nebraska, where Aronson had previously lived.

Shoshoni was projected to have major growth with the arrival of the Wyoming and North Western (later the Chicago and Northwestern) and as a result of various promotions by Asmus Boysen. Those included the development of copper mines at Copper Mountain by the Asmus Boysen Mining Co. as well as a land sale promotion. The Thermopolis Record, June 3, 1905, reported, "It is the almost unanimous opinion of experienced mining men that this district [Copper Mountain] will become one of the richest mining propositions ever developed in the Rocky mountain region." In Casper, The Wyoming Derrick, August 3, 1905, reported a discovery of copper and gold at Copper Mountain which "on top of the ground * * * ran 32 per cent copper and showed many colors of gold. The ore got better as the tunnel was sunk, the gold ore increasin in value until it is now fabulously rich."

Boysen, originally from Denmark, was a former member of the Iowa State Legislature, serving in the General Assembly from 1900-1903. In addition to the Copper and gold mining, he began the development of an irrigation and power dam on the Wind River. He was short of money and lost control of the dam operation and associated electric company.

Boysen Dam, approx. 1910.

Aronson was involved with the Asmus Boysen and his dam project and various related mining ventures. One venture was an unsuccessful scheme to dredge gold from the bottom of the Wind River three miles south of the townsite of Neble, Wyoming. Neble was located about 14 miles southwest of Shoshoni and was formed by Boysen who acquired the townsite from Nathaniel F. Shipton. Boysen renamed the townsite Neble after Col. Solphus Frederik Neble, the publisher of the Den Danske Pioneer, "The Danish Pioneer," an Omaha Danish and English language weekly newspaper intended for Danish Settlers. Boysen promoted an associated real estate irrigation project named Dannebrog. "Dannebrog" was the Danish name for its national flag. The project would be irrigated with water from Boysen's dam. Unfortunately, the dam was not high enough to provide water for the irrigation project. Preference in sales were to be given to Danish settlers. Col. Neble's newspaper had a circulation at one time of almost 40,000 including about 5,000 in Denmark itself. "Dannebrog" is the name for the Danish flag. Lots and acreage in Neble and Dannebrog were advertised in Co.. Neble's newspaper.

. . .
Left Asmus Boysen; Right, Col. S. F. Neble

In 1912, the 12th Annual Report of the Work of the Congregational Sunday School and Publishing Society in Wyoming reported that the Congreational Minister was attempting to indroduce the work of the Church in Neble. Nevertheless, at its peak, Neble never amounted to little more than the railroad depot, section house, some loading chutes, Albin Riner's store (which also served as a polling station), a school, and a population of about twenty-five. The town was less than successful. In December 1916 thirty-five blocks of the townsite were sold for taxes owed in the amount of $144.38. In the fall of 1917, the Neble School was closed due to lack of students. Riner moved to Riverton and opened a cafe. By the end of 1927, just about the only buildings in Neble were the railroad section house and a small shack in which was housed the last commercial enterprse in the town. On December 31, the business closed. The Shoshoni Enterprise, January 6, 1928 explained:

High-Powered Stuff That Would
Make Rabbit Spit in the
Face of Bull Dog

Last Saturday morning everything was peaceful and quiet at Neble, a little hamlet twenty miles southest of Shoshoni, nestling in the protective bend of Big Wind river, surrounded by great, silent cottonwoods on one side, and beetling bluffs upon the other. No portent of impending danger threatened; the air was hushed. No leave stirred nor bird stirred, not even a horse, stirred--it was very quiet--when suddenly the crunching of many feet upon frozen snow broke the deathly stillness, and Federal Officers C.A. Davis and J. H. Genny, accompanied by Under Sheriff Spencer Gaylord and deputy Jimmy Thompson made a forward tacke on a small Shack near the section house. Abruptly entering they discovered a 30 gallon still, 5 gallons of moon--the kind that would make a jack rabbit spit in a bull dog's face, or after two drinks, give a man courage to talk back to his own wife. A little brown brother from Mexico answering to the name of Elias Valdez was in possession, and tamely submitted to arrest. The liquor had evidently been recently run as no mash was discovered.
The five gallons of chained lightning was in pint and quart bottles, cunningly concealed about the room, ready for the hoiday trade.
The still, the moon and the Mexican accompanied the officers to Lander. Court being in session, Valdez asked permission to plead guilty and be on his way. Judge Fourt accomodatingly accepted the plea and presented him with a free pass to Rawlins, together with a forcible detainer of from 1 year to 18 months as a guest of the state--another evidence, of too much government in business.

Today, little if anything remains of the town. The town site is reached by dirt roads. Take Muskrat Road south of Shoshoni and turn on Neble Road. The town is remembered in the name of Neble Road and Neble Hill. The earlier name, "Wahaba" lives on in the name of a street in Shoshoni. A street in Neble was named after Aronson.

For a period of time, Aronson served as "acting" preident and registered agent of the Shoshoni Gold Dredging Co. Money for the operation came from Frank A. Seiberling of tire and rubber fame and his associates. The dredging company made six preliminary test drillings in the river bottom. Based on the test drillings, a three-foot Marion electric bucket dredge was acquired. The dredge, according to the Engineering and Mining Journal, January, 8, 1916, cost approximately $49,000. The dredge was frequently referred to as the "Neble Dredge." In order to power the dredge, An electrical line was run from the Boysen Dam twenty miles away. The gold was separated from the gravel and sand using cocoa mats. Unfortunately the take was only about a twenty-eight cents a cubic yard. Only then were more extensive test drillings made. They revealed that gold was not present in profitable quantities. Thus, the dredge was only operated for about six weeks before the operation closed. In August 1913 the cook house and the two bunk houses for the dredging operation were advertised for sale for their lumber value.

, The Shoshoni Gold Dredging Co dredge near Neble, Wyoming, approx. 1913. Photo published by A. O. Heyer.

In 1914 the dredge was sold to the Tin Cup Gold Mining & Dredging Co. of Gunnison County, Colorado, for about $11,000. Tin Cup is on the west side of the Cotinental Divide and best reached from the west. Some years ago the wrier visited Tin Cub via four-wheel drive vehicle using 6 ply tires crossing the Divide. Several Weeks before someone had attempted the trip with a Buick Regal. Their trip ended with a puntured oil pan. The dredge was dismantled and moved from Neble to Bertha Gulch two miles outside of Tin Cup. The cost of the dismantling, moving and re-assembly of the dredge was estimated by the Engineering and Mining Journal to be $65,000, greater than the cost of a new dredge. Unfortunately There was no electricity in Tin Cup. Electricity had not yet arrived at Tin cup. It was necessary to construct a dam at St. Elmo twelve miles from the dredge. The dam was constructed with a wooden bulkhead backfilled with rocks. The water was funnelled to a small power plant using a wooden barrel stave pipeline. The Tin Cup Operation lasted about a year. By order of the bankruptcy court in Denver, the dredge was sold on Sept. 2, 1915, for $5,000. Unsuccessful efforts were again made to use the dredge which ended in 1917 when the town of Tin Cup faded with the closure of the Gold Cub Mine. The most famous aspect of present day Tin Cub are the four parts of its cemetery: Protestant Knoll in which are interred Protestants and Masons; Jewish Knoll; Catholic Knoll and finally Boot Hill in which are interred some of the town marshals who failed to complete their terms as a result of lead poisoning. Another occupant of the cemetery is "Black Jack" Cameron who allegedly drew five aces. It tooks eight tries before a town marshal was successfully able to complete his term. Today, the remains of the Nebel dredge lie abandoned and rotting away alongside Willow Creek outside of Tin Cup.

In 1920, Aronson moved to Thermopolis to temporarily run operations of an oil company. In 1922, the oild company was sold. By 1927, Aronson was selling cars for the Willys-Overland agency in Thermopolis.

One of Wyoming's leading merchants, Charles H. King, the paternal grandfather of Gerald R. Ford, moved his operations from Casper to Shoshoni. The operaions included a lumber yard, bank, and mercantile. Until the railroad arrived, however, his residence was in a railroad car parked at the end of the line. The railroad depot was constructed prior to the arrival of the tracks. One newcomer resided in the depot until the tracks arrived. In 1905, the First National Bank was chartered. The same year, a post office was established and C. H. King's son-in-law Robert H. Knittle was named as postmaster. The town was incorporated.

Shoshoni Lumber Yard, approx. 1906.

Finally, On July 3, 1906, the railroad arrived.

First train into Shoshoni, July 3. 1906

Many of the residents who had come for the spectacle had never seen a real train before. One wag after the train had arrived yelled to the crowd a warning that the engineer was about to turn the train around. People scurried to get out of the way. When the first train arrived in Lander in October, the engineer repeated the joke. Alfred Mokler in his History of Natorona County, p. 49, 50, explained:

A great many of the people living at Lander had never seen a train of cars until this train came into the station. Some of the citizens carne into the country before there were any railroads in the central part of the state, and as they had no occasion to make a trip to Casper or Rawlins, which were their nearest railroad points, the distance to each point being about the same, they were content to do their traveling in a buckboard or on horseback. Others were born there and never had occasion to go out of the confines of the county. One old fellow, when he learned that the train was to come into Lander that day, immediately went to the station, and when informed that the train would not arrive for several hours, remarked that he had been waiting sixty-five years to see a train of railroad cars, and he guessed he could wait now with patience for several hours.

When the train arrived it was immediately surrounded with a throng of curious, excited men, women and children who looked upon the engine especially with awe and admiration. When the people were the most interested and were listening to an explanation and description of the mechanism of the locomotive, by a man who had seen a railroad train several times before, the engineer put his head out of the cab window and called out: "Stand back, for I am now going to turn this train around." There was immediately a great scattering, and it did not dawn upon them for some time that the train could not be turned around on a single track.

Regular service through to Lander, however, did not begin until 1907.

Shoshoni Railroad yards, approx. 1906

The Station was located at the south end of Main Street. Slightly to the right of the center of the photograph is a two-story white building. The building is the newly completed C. H. King Building on the corner of Main and Second Street which housed his mercantile emporium and First National Bank of Shoshoni.

Main Street looking south from about Third Street, approx. 1907. Aronson's Pilsner Saloon on the left.

Next Page: Shoshoni Continued