Population 440 Elevation 6245
Latitude: 41.03 degrees north of the equator
Longitude: 107.65 degrees west of the prime meridian
Baggs is 76 miles from Rawlins, Wyoming and 41 miles from Craig, Colorado. The distance to Cheyenne, the state capitol, is 152 miles as the crow flies. We are part of Carbon County.
Wyoming highway 789 running through Baggs was commissioned in 1954 as part of a multi-state route that traveled through Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. The highway goes over the Continental Divide between Creston Junction and Baggs.
Baggs was reputed to be the a former home of one of the most notorious outlaw bands of the old west: Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid and their 'Wild Bunch". The Gaddis/Mathews cabin on Highway 789 in Baggs was a local hangout of Butch Cassidy.
The Bank Club Bar is listed on the National Historic Register and is located on old main street. The Jim Baker cabin at the LSR Museum is also on the National Register of Historic Buildings. The historic Savery Store is 100 years old. The current Fleming house was recognized as 100 years old in 2003.
The Dad stage stop site is 24 miles north of Baggs on the west side of the highway.
Baggs is the home of the Rattlers, the mascot of the Little Snake River Valley school.
On the Little Snake River you will find the towns of Dixon, Wyoming 7 miles east, Savery, Wyoming 11 miles east and Slater, Colorado 18 miles east, of Baggs.
AND did you know we have fiber-optic connections in the valley? Since 1996. That's why DSL service is available for your computer.
Customs and Culture of the Little Snake River Valley
As Prepared from Various Sources by Larry Hicks
Early man sites have been found in the Little Snake Basin with estimates from 6,000 to 8,000 years ago. During the last ice age typical North American mega-fauna inhabited the region. A woolly mammoth skeleton was excavated near Muddy Creek in the early 1960's.
By 1800 five Indian tribes including Shoshone, Sioux, Utes, Arapaho, and Cheyenne tribes used the Little Snake River Basin. The area was considered major warring grounds among the tribes. Many tribes hunted the area due to the abundance of game. In 1843 John C. Fremont stated that he had been no place in the west that had as much game as he witnessed in the Little Snake River area.
The first white men to travel and explore the Carbon County where the Astorians in 1812. While many parties of early trappers transverse the northern sections of Carbon county and the lower Platte Valley the first recorded instance of an organized party in the Little Snake Basin was the party of three men in May of 1839 including Robert Newell, Philip Thompson and an unknown third member. They traveled from the Platte valley to the Little Snake where they found a white man Joseph Walker living with a band of Snakes (Shoshone) with approximately 500 lodges. In the fall of 1839 a party of trappers spent some time in the valley. Kit Carson mentioned to E. Willard Smith of a fight between 7 trappers and a band of 20 Sioux Indians that occurred a few years previous as they passed the site headed down the Little Snake River Valley.
In 1841 a large party of trappers (40+) where attacked by a band of 300-500 Sioux Indians near the mouth of present day Battle Creek. In 1842 John C. Fremont was searching for an overland route and passed through the headwaters of Muddy Creek looking for "Bridger's Pass" in the Little Snake drainage. In 1844 on his return trip he again followed the Little Snake upstream from the west. It would appear that he crossed the continental divide somewhere near the head of Savery Creek. In 1849 the first immigrants, a band of Cherokee Indian, approximated the route of the 1884 Fremont expedition on their way to the California gold fields. By 1850 the U.S. Calvary was searching for a route, Stansbury in September of 1850 guided by Jim Bridger surveyed the route through "Bridger's Pass" for a wagon route. By 1860 this route was being routinely used as what is now know as the Overland Trail. In 1862 the Overland Stage Company established along this route. The stage company ran for six years along this route. In a diary of Frinfrock, 1864, he list the following passing along the Overland Trail 4274 wagons, 50,000 head of stock, and 17,584 people.
The first record of livestock being driven into the valley is 1845 when Jim Baker brought a sizable herd of horses into the valley from California. In 1864 alone, over 50,000 head of livestock passed down the Overland Trail along Muddy Creek, a tributary to the Little Snake River.
The first cattle entered the Little Snake Basin in 1871 when Noah Reader brought 2000 head that where turned out at the mouth of Savery Creek. Later in 1873 George Baggs brought 2000 head in to the valley near the vicinity of the Town bearing his name. From 1875 to 1885 cattle numbers increased dramatically in the Little Snake basin. After the winter of 1886-87 cattle died off and sheep men rapidly moved into the country. By 1900 approximately 300,000 sheep and 10,000 cattle where grazing in the Sierra Madre Range. In 1904 grazing in the Snowy range went under the administration of the U.S. Forest service and in 1907 the Sierra Forest Reserve authorized sheep grazing to 340,000 sheep. In 1920 the number was reduced to 100,000 sheep and 7,700 cattle. In 1934 the Taylor Grazing Act was passed and in 1936 livestock operators where charged $0.05 per AUM to graze on the forest.
Livestock operation (ranching) was directly responsible for the earliest permanent settlement of the Little Snake Basin. Many of the towns and other features carry the names of the early ranchers in the valley. It has been the mainstay of the local economy since the 1870's and the dominant use of the land. Many ranches in the basin have territorial water rights irrigating lands prior to Wyoming becoming a state. Consequently, the customs and culture of the ranching industry dominate the sociology in the basin. Rodeo's, branding's, ropin's and the associated horse-ranch culture form an important and long standing cultural component in the valley since its settlement. While agriculture has been surpasses by minerals as being the most important economic activity this is only temporary given that agriculture is based on renewable natural resource and mineral are a nonrenewable with a finite life expectancy. Ranching is the Little Snake Basin is heavily dependent on federal lands for a significant portion of the year. Every ranch in the valley has either a BLM and/or USFS grazing permit. Consequently, any reduction in federal grazing has dramatic economic consequences to the individual ranch but also the economic viability of the community.
Earlier miners where attracted to the valley when gold was discovered in the Hahns Peak region in the Routt NF in the later parts of the 1860's. By the late1890'S hard rock mining was well underway in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range. Copper was king and the primary mineral being mined. Several towns sprang up at the headwaters of the Little Snake basin including Old Battle, Rambler, and others.
Oil and Gas exploration, development, and production have become and increasingly important component of the local economy and tax base in the Little Snake Basin. The first discovery and production of oil in the basin occurred in 1954. The basin has seen three major booms associated with oil and gas exploration and development. The period from 1954-1964 and 1977-1982 were primarily associated with oil. In the mid 1990's to the present natural gas has been the hydrocarbon most prevalent in development and production. Today much of the Little Snake River Basin is underlain with coal with substantial coalbed methane reserves. Currently over 200 exploratory wells have been drilled in the last two years. Currently the BLM is working on an EIS for 3,880 coalbed methane wells. In the late 1960's and 70's low grade uranium was mined west of Baggs.
Just like the gold, copper, and uranium booms in the Little Snake River Basin, the oil and gas exploratory phase created a boom and bust economy. However, the development and production phases have moderate impacts on the community and provided for more stable economic growth.
Oil and gas exploration, development, and production have had little direct effect on the MBNF. However, the majority of the workers employed in this area spend a substantial amount of their time recreating on the MBNF in the forms of hunting, fishing, camping, horseback riding and snowmobiling. These recreational uses are the predominate uses by this segment of the population in the LSR Basin.
Personal and commercial timber harvest has occurred in the Little Snake River basin on the MBNF since the time the first trappers in the early 1800's constructed cabins. Railroaders in the 1860's, ranchers in the 1870's, and miners in the 1890's all relied on timber for personnel and commercial use. Today commercial and personal use of timber products on MBNF lands play a key role in the customs, culture, and economy of the communities in the Little Snake River Basin as well as Carbon county as a whole.
Fremont records in his journals that the Sierra Madre's contained more game than anywhere he had been in the west. Many Indian tribes hunted the area due to the abundance of game. Trappers where attracted to the area for the same reasons as the Indians due to the abundance of game. As early as 1839 easterners where coming to the area solely to hunt. E. Willard Smith in 1839 received a hunting trip to the far west as a graduation present from his father. He entered the head of the Little Snake River Valley on September 25, 1839. With the establishment of the Overland Trail in the early 1860's and the transcontinental railroad in the later 1860's market hunting became a prevalent industry in the area. Also with the railroad came Easterners and Europeans to the game fields of the Sierra Madre's for sport hunting. By the 1890's game populations where fairly decimated in the region from market hunting and unregulated sport hunting. At the turn of the century the state began regulating season on hunting. Game population has continued to increase through the 1900's with peak high population of elk, deer, and antelope occurring in the 1990's. Sport or recreational hunting has again become a viable industry in the Sierra Madre Mountain range. Hunting is the single largest recreational activity both in number of recreation days and of economic importance of all recreation activities that occur in the Little Snake Basin and the Sierra Madre Mountains.
Carbon County was a county before Wyoming was either a territory or a state. In 1868 Carbon County was a county in the Dakota Territory. In 1869 Carbon County was included as part of the Wyoming Territory. Between the early days as part of the Dakota territory and the present day, the boundaries of the county have changed several times. Other government bodies found today in Carbon county include federal, state, and county agencies, and other locally elected government entities including municipal, conservation districts, weed and pest districts, and numerous other special districts and local boards. The State of Wyoming enacted conservation district law in 1954. Today three conservation districts are found in Carbon County that roughly follow the boundaries of the Little Snake, Platte, and Medicine Bow River Watersheds.
ELK NEAR BAGGS