Kemmerer has over a 100-year history that is steeped in rich stories and journeys including coal mining, railroads, bootlegging and the historic trails. The City of Kemmerer was a town that was organized in 1897, incorporated in 1899, by Patrick Quealy. Patrick Quealy and his partner and investor, Mahlon Kemmerer began their partnership in the development of coal mines in Frontier, a company town, and in Kemmerer, an independent town, both co-located in Uinta County, one of the five original counties in Wyoming. These two towns had a multitude of underground coalmines. From the late 1890’s until the 1960’s, there were active mines throughout the region.
Mines in this area stretched from Cumberland south near the Carter Cutoff (SH412) and north to Sublet and west to Cokeville. This coal mining boom produced coal towns such as Cumberland South, Cumberland No. 1, Cumberland No. 2, Blazon, Glencoe, Hams Fork, Sublet, Gomer, Suzie, Frontier, Diamondville, Elkol, and, of course, Kemmerer. Most of these towns no longer exist. However, a number of cemeteries still remain. This entire South Lincoln County area was active in coal mining due to the construction of the Oregon Short Line Railroad that still runs from the Union Pacific mainline along I-80 to the Oregon shores. If the railroad did not exist or was not built, the coal could not have been moved efficiently throughout the west and limited its worth.
In 1911, Kemmerer and Frontier were incorporated into Lincoln County. The Kemmerer and Quealy partnership brought to this region the Kemmerer Coal Company (the mine properties are still in operation today by Westmoreland Kemmerer) as well as the towns of Frontier and Kemmerer. Mr. Quealy, who lived in the area full-time, owned Frontier Supply Company and Uinta Improvement Company, became president of the First National Bank of Kemmerer, Quealy Sheep and Live Stock Company and Wyoming Timber Company along with various other companies in the area. Prior to Mr. Quealy’s work in Kemmerer Coal Company, he was employed by the Union Pacific Coal Company and worked to find, mine and ship coal for the Union Pacific Railroad. He actively worked in coalmines since 1884. He became very familiar with this area and began his ambitious plan to mine coal within the region.
Around the unique Herschler Triangle Park are located the remaining 100 plus year old buildings from Kemmerer’s heyday. Included is the 2nd JC Penney store (when Mr. Penney was in business with partners) and called the store the Golden Rule store, the “Mother” store for JC Penney that has been in operation since 1929 as well as the J. C. Penney house where Mr. Penney lived with his wife and children and it remains open for tours to the public during the warmer months of the year.
Year of Establishment
University of Wyoming Graduates