Reprint of this story from the February 7, 1889 issue of The Platte Valley Lyre brought to you courtesy of Grandma’s Cabin, Encampment, Wyoming. Preserving History - Serving the Community.
Platte Timber - An Encircling Belt 130 Miles Long and 12 Miles Wide
Tributary to the great valley of the upper Platte is a timber growth which in magnitude, excellence, variety, and ease of access, is unsurpassed in the Great West. This timber growth follows the course of the mountain chains encircling the valley of the Platte and form a belt one hundred and thirty miles long by twelve wide. In this belt is included pine, both white and yellow, black fir or balsam, spruce, and quaking aspen.
This immense timber belt, like the mountain chains it continuously clothes, is semicircular in form, in extending from the northern extremity of Medicine Bow range to the Savery Divide.
At its northern staring point this timber belt clothes the mountain sources of Lake creek with white pine, black fir or balsam, and spruce, and the foothills of the same stream with quaking aspen. Thence it runs to the waters of the two branches of Clear creek. On this stream is located the saw mill of B.T. Ryan, now producing large quantities of excellent lumber.
From Cedar creek the belt reaches the splendid growth clothing the heads of the two Brush creeks. Here, in Brush creek park, was located in the early days a Union Pacific tie camp, the output of which was of excellent character.
Leaving Brush creek, the growth passes on south to French creek. On this stream is located a magnificent timber body – a timber body as yet scarcely touched by the ax. Next comes Mullen creek, a creek also of vast timber supply.
Beyond Mullen creek is found Douglas creek, a stream thirty miles long, with almost every mile closely timber clothed. On this creek there was also located at one time a Union Pacific tie camp.
Just south of Douglas creek, are the waters of Willow branch. This stream heads against a mountain ridge forming the Platte river divide, and is distinguished as the starting point of the great yellow pine growth of the upper Platte region. This yellow pine growth, board and heavy, runs form Willow branch to the line of North Park, and from thence far into Colorado. The lumber produced by this yellow pine forest rivals the best eastern article.
On reaching the North Park line the Platte timber belt turns to the west, and runs along the mountains marking the northern valley limits. In this western course the belt leaves considerable timber on three creeks, Big Creek, Bear creek, and Little Beaver, and fine growth on Big Beaver and Indian creeks. The Indian creek timber is especially adapted to fencing purposes.
And now is reached the head of the Grand Encampment, where the timber area is astonishing in its reach and general size of growth. Grand forests clothe this entire mountain region, extending to the head of Elk river, and passing onward toward Middle Park. In the vicinity of the Grand Encampment canon is a growth of yellow pine form which was obtained the material used in the building of the United States post of Fort Steele.
From the Grand Encampment the timber belt takes a northerly course, striking first, in its new line of travel, the head of Cow creek, where the timber field is wide and ample.
By way of the head of Cow creek is the road from the Saratoga Hot Springs to the summer resort and the trout fishing of Battle Lake, around which lake the pine and spruce growth is also dense.
To the north of Cow creek is Calf creek, amid whose forest was lately located the saw mill of B. T. Ryan, the mill now running on Cedar creek on the opposite side of the Platte Valley. Next are reached the two Spring creeks, the most northern of which streams displays a fine timber supply.
With the next stream to the north, Jack creek, the limit of the timber belt is reached, it here running out in the scattering quaking aspen motifs of the Savery slopes. Jack creek is a stream of long mountain course, and its timber wealth is vast.
Thus is traced the path of the great timber belt of the upper Platte region. It is indeed a rich resource. In its unlimited and exhaustless production are included white pine, a timber of excellent lumber character; yellow pine equaling the eastern product; black fir, or balsam, valuable for shingles and sheeting, and quaking asp, useful for fencing and firewood.
To all of this extensive and varied timber growth access in convenient and easy. There is not one of all the timber clothed streams mentioned in this article which has not its mountain road hewed into the forest heart, and as none of these streams exceed twenty miles in length, it will be readily seen that the hauling distance is short.
The lumber future of the Platte Valley is great.