Nineteenth Century railroads were dependent upon coal for fuel. The vast coal
reserves of southern Wyoming helped determine the route of the transcontinental
Union Pacific Railroad and were the basis for Wyoming's first energy boom.
Communities sprang up along the line and several with coal deposits or rail
facilities survived. Coal mines were opened in the surrounding Bear River
Valley in 1868. Dreams of prosperity lured miners from England, Scandinavia,
China, and from throughout the United States to settle in "Wyoming Camp",
which later became Almy. Named for James T. Almy, a clerk for the Rocky
Mountain Coal Company and located three miles northwest of Evanston, Almy was
strung out along the Bear River for 5 miles. This particular "string-town" owed
its existence soley to coal mining. Her 4,000 residents suffered more than their
share of mining tragedies. On March 4, 1881, the first mine explosion west of
the Mississippi to claim lives, killed 38 men in just one of many serious disasters
to strike Almy. In January of 1886, 13 more died and on March 20, 1895, the
third worst mine explosion in Wyoming history, claimed the lives of 61 men.
The state Coal Mine Inspector determined the Almy mines "among the most
dangerous in the state". Finally, in 1900 the mines were closed by the Union Pacific
due to labor troubles and explosions. Almy lost its principal industry, the population
dwindled and the town suffered the fate of many railroad coal towns throughout Wyoming.