History & Culture

Women camping in the 1920s

The First National Forest

The Shoshone National Forest was first created in 1891 as part of the Yellowstone Timberland Reserve. This part later became the Shoshone National Forest, the first national forest in the nation. 

The Shoshone has a rich cultural history. Archaeological and ethnographic investigations indicate that people have lived in the area now known as the Shoshone National Forest for at least 10,000 years. The Arapahoe, Blackfeet, Comanche, Crow, Nez Perce, Northern Cheyenne and Sioux tribes used the Shoshone for traditional cultural practices and subsistence living. The Shoshone takes its name from the Shoshoni Indians living in the area.

Kirwin Motel in 1934Famous mountain men such as John Colter and Jim Bridger were early visitors, as well as miners who sought their fortunes in the area's mountains. The ghost town of Kirwin, an early-day mining town, is a window to the past, recalling one of the colorful eras in Wyoming's history. The remains of tie hack flumes and cabins on the southern end of the forest are reminders of another era during which millions of railroad ties were produced.

See a timeline for key events of the Shoshone National Forest.

Visit the Wyoming State Historical Society website.

The Wapiti Ranger Station

A photo of the Wapiti Ranger Station

The Wapiti Ranger Station, located on U S Highway 14/16/20 about 30 miles west of Cody, was built in 1903. It was the first ranger station constructed at federal expense in the United States.

In 1963, the Ranger Station was added to the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark. The Ranger Station and outbuildings are still used today to house Forest Service summer seasonal employees and pack and saddle stock and for storing equipment and supplies.

The Black Water Fire of 1937

Photo of the Blackwater Fire of 1937The fourth deadliest wildfire in the nation's history, the Blackwater Creek fire was started by a lightning strike in the pine-filled Shoshone National Forest on Aug. 18, 1937. The fire smoldered and crept through the ground fuels for two days before it was spotted by the owners of a local hunting camp. It covered about 2 acres; by the time it was controlled four days later it had consumed 1,700 acres. (WyoHistory.org)

Blackwater Fire Memorial Ceremony Photo Album