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Laramie, Wyoming
Downtown Laramie Historic District
Downtown Laramie Historic District
Motto(s): 
Gem City of the Plains
Location in Albany County and the state of Wyoming.
Location in Albany County and the state of Wyoming.
Country United States
State Wyoming
County Albany
Area
 • City 18.38 sq mi (47.61 km2)
 • Land 18.36 sq mi (47.55 km2)
 • Water 0.02 sq mi (0.06 km2)
Elevation
7,165 ft (2,184 m)
Population
 (2010)
 • City 30,816
 • Estimate 
(2019)
32,711
 • Density 1,781.74/sq mi (701.16/km2)
 • Metro
38,943
Time zone UTC−7 (MST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
ZIP Code
82070-82073
Area code 307 Exchanges:721,742,745,755,766
FIPS code 56-45050
GNIS feature ID 1590526

Laramie is a city in and the county seat of Albany County, Wyoming, United States. The population was estimated 32,711 in 2019, making it the third-largest city in Wyoming after Cheyenne and Casper. Located on the Laramie River in southeastern Wyoming, the city is north west of Cheyenne, at the junction of Interstate 80 and U.S. Route 287.

Laramie was settled in the mid-19th century along the Union Pacific Railroad line, which crosses the Laramie River at Laramie. It is home to the University of Wyoming, WyoTech, and a branch of Laramie County Community College. Laramie Regional Airport serves Laramie. The ruins of Fort Sanders, an army fort predating Laramie, lie just south of the city along Route 287. Located in the Laramie Valley between the Snowy Range and the Laramie Range, the city draws outdoor enthusiasts with its abundance of outdoor activities.

In 2011, Laramie was named as one of the best cities in which to retire by Money Magazine, which cited its scenic location, low taxes, and educational opportunities.

History

Laramie was named for Jacques LaRamie, a French or French-Canadian trapper who disappeared in the Laramie Mountains in the late 1810s and was never heard from again. He was one of the first Europeans to visit the area. European-American settlers named a river, mountain range, peak, US Army fort, county, and city for him. More Wyoming landmarks are named for him than for any other trapper but Jim Bridger. Because the name was used so frequently, the town was called Laramie City for decades to distinguish it from other uses.

Laramie was founded in the mid-1860s as a tent city near the Overland Stage Line route, the Union Pacific portion of the first transcontinental railroad, and just north of Fort Sanders army post. The rails reached Laramie on May 4, 1868 when construction crews worked through town. A few passengers arrived on that same day. The first regular passenger service began on May 10, 1868, by which time entrepreneurs were building more permanent structures. Laramie City (as it was known in early years) soon had stores, houses, a school, and churches. Laramie's fame as the western terminal of the Union Pacific Railroad, acquired when the 268-mile (431 km) section from North Platte, Nebraska was opened in May ended in early August 1868 when a 93-mile (150 km) section of track was opened to Benton, 6 miles (9.7 km) east of present-day Sinclair, Wyoming.

University of wyoming 1908 crop
"Old Main" building at the
University of Wyoming
in Laramie - 1908

In 1869, Wyoming was organized as Wyoming Territory, the first legislature of which passed a bill granting equal political rights to women in the territory. In March 1870, five Laramie residents became the first women in the world to serve on a jury. As Laramie was the first town in Wyoming to hold a municipal election, on September 6, 1870, a Laramie resident was the first woman in the United States to cast a legal vote in a general election.

Early businesses included rolling mills, a railroad-tie treatment plant, a brick yard, a slaughterhouse, a brewery, a glass manufacturing plant, and a plaster mill, as well as the railroad yards. In 1886, a plant to produce electricity was built. Several regional railroads were based in Laramie, including the Laramie, North Park and Pacific Railroad and Telegraph Company founded in 1880 and the Laramie, North Park and Western Railroad established in 1901.

Governor Francis E. Warren signed a bill that established the University of Wyoming (UW) in 1886, the only public university in the state. Laramie was chosen as its site, and UW opened there in 1887. Under the terms of the Morrill Act, also known as the Land Grant College Act, in 1891 UW added an agricultural college and experiment station to gain benefits as a land grant college.

Late 20th century to present

In 2004, Laramie became the first city in Wyoming to pass a law to prohibit smoking in enclosed workplaces, including bars, restaurants and private clubs. Opponents of the clean indoor air ordinance, funded in part by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, immediately petitioned to have the ordinance repealed. However, the voters upheld the ordinance in a citywide referendum which was conducted concurrently with the 2004 general election. The opponents challenged the validity of the election in court, claiming various irregularities. However, the judge ruled that the opponents had failed to meet their burden of showing significant problems with the election, and the ordinance, which had become effective in April 2005, remained in effect. In August 2005, Laramie's City Council defeated an attempt to amend the ordinance to allow smoking in bars and private clubs.

Laramie, 1908
Laramie, 1908

Geography and climate

Lake Marie and Snowy Range
The Medicine Bow (Snowy Range) Mountains are popular with Laramie's outdoor enthusiasts.

Laramie is located at 41°18′47″N 105°35′14″W / 41.31306°N 105.58722°W / 41.31306; -105.58722 (41.312927, −105.587251). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 17.76 square miles (46.00 km2), of which 17.74 square miles (45.95 km2) is land and 0.02 square miles (0.05 km2) is water.

Laramie is on a high plain between two mountain ranges, the Snowy Range, about 30 miles (48 km) to the west, and the Laramie Range, 7 miles (11 km) to the east. The city's elevation above sea level is about 7,165 feet (2,184 m). The Laramie River runs through Laramie toward its confluence with the North Platte River east of the Laramie Range.

The city is about 50 miles (80 km) west of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and 130 miles (209 km) north of Denver, Colorado. Laramie lies along U.S. Route 30, Interstate 80, and U.S. Route 287, and it remains an important junction on the Union Pacific Railroad line.

Laramie's total precipitation averages about 11 inches (279 mm) a year, and the average number of rainy days per year is about 86. The city experiences a day that is 90 °F (32 °C) or warmer 2.2 times a year. The average temperature in December is 21.1 °F (−6.1 °C), and in July it is 64.0 °F (17.8 °C). Annual snowfall averages 48 inches (122 cm). Because of the high elevation, winters are long, and summers are short and relatively cool. The growing season is short, as the average window for freezing temperatures is September 14 through June 6, while for accumulating (≥0.1 inches or 0.25 centimetres) it is October 5 through May 12.

Laramie has a semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSk) with long, cold, dry winters and short, warm, somewhat wetter summers.

Climate data for Laramie, Wyoming (Laramie Regional Airport), 1981–2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 59
(15)
63
(17.2)
71
(21.7)
77
(25)
87
(30.6)
94
(34.4)
94
(34.4)
94
(34.4)
90
(32.2)
79
(26.1)
70
(21.1)
61
(16.1)
94
(34.4)
Average high °F (°C) 33.3
(0.72)
35.2
(1.78)
43.0
(6.11)
51.1
(10.61)
61.5
(16.39)
72.5
(22.5)
80.1
(26.72)
77.9
(25.5)
68.6
(20.33)
55.7
(13.17)
41.3
(5.17)
32.2
(0.11)
54.4
(12.44)
Average low °F (°C) 10.1
(-12.17)
11.9
(-11.17)
18.7
(-7.39)
24.6
(-4.11)
33.7
(0.94)
41.9
(5.5)
48.0
(8.89)
46.7
(8.17)
37.9
(3.28)
28.0
(-2.22)
17.4
(-8.11)
10.0
(-12.22)
27.4
(-2.56)
Record low °F (°C) −50
(-45.6)
−39
(-39.4)
−25
(-31.7)
−14
(-25.6)
5
(-15)
22
(-5.6)
30
(-1.1)
28
(-2.2)
−2
(-18.9)
−18
(-27.8)
−26
(-32.2)
−34
(-36.7)
−50
(-45.6)
Precipitation inches (mm) .27
(6.9)
.34
(8.6)
.59
(15)
1.08
(27.4)
1.69
(42.9)
1.53
(38.9)
1.43
(36.3)
1.25
(31.8)
1.11
(28.2)
.80
(20)
.58
(14.7)
.37
(9.4)
11.03
(280.2)
Snowfall inches (cm) 7.4
(18.8)
8.3
(21.1)
9.3
(23.6)
9.5
(24.1)
3.3
(8.4)
.2
(0.5)
0
(0)
0
(0)
.2
(0.5)
2.4
(6.1)
6.7
(17)
6.5
(16.5)
53.8
(136.7)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 4.6 5.1 6.0 7.8 10.5 8.5 9.2 9.8 7.1 6.4 5.7 5.2 86.0
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 5.0 5.0 6.0 5.5 2.3 .2 0 0 .6 2.5 5.4 5.5 37.9
Source: NOAA (extremes 1948–present)

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 828
1880 2,696 225.6%
1890 6,388 136.9%
1900 8,207 28.5%
1910 8,237 0.4%
1920 8,301 0.8%
1930 8,609 3.7%
1940 10,627 23.4%
1950 15,581 46.6%
1960 17,520 12.4%
1970 23,143 32.1%
1980 24,410 5.5%
1990 26,687 9.3%
2000 27,204 1.9%
2010 30,816 13.3%
2020 31,407 1.9%
source:

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 30,816 people, 13,394 households, and 5,843 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,737.1 inhabitants per square mile (670.7/km2). There were 14,307 housing units at an average density of 806.5 per square mile (311.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 89.5% White, 3.2% Asian, 2.8% from two or more races, 2.5% from other races, 1.3% African American, 0.7% Native American, and 0.1% Pacific Islander. 9.2% of residents were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 13,394 households, of which 20.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.0% were married couples living together, 6.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 56.4% were non-families. 36.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.14 and the average family size was 2.85.

The median age in the city was 25.4 years. 15.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 32.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26.5% were from 25 to 44; 17.4% were from 45 to 64; and 7.5% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 52.0% male and 48.0% female.

Arts and culture

Annual cultural events

Laramie Jubilee Days started in 1940 to celebrate Wyoming Statehood Day on July 10. Since then, Jubilee Days has expanded to include several days around the Fourth of July. Events typically include food, live music, games, carnival rides, a street fair, a parade, a softball tournament, and rodeo events.

Museums and concert halls

The Geological Museum at the University of Wyoming is open to the public and houses more than 50,000 catalogued mineral, rock, and fossil specimens, including a dinosaur exhibit. The university's art museum offers gallery exhibits, lectures, workshops, classes, and public tours year-round. The Fine Arts Concert Hall on campus presents frequent concerts and recitals during the school year. Housed in the Ivinson Mansion near the center of town is the Laramie Plains Museum. The Wyoming Children's Museum and Nature Center has interactive exhibits and pottery classes for children aged 3 and older.

Libraries

The central library of the Albany County Library system, with a wide range of materials for adults and children, is near downtown Laramie; the system's branch libraries are in Centennial, 28 miles (45 km) west of Laramie and Rock River, 32 miles (51 km) northwest of Laramie. William Robertson Coe Library, the main library of the University of Wyoming, has materials for general research in business, education, fine arts, science, humanities, and the social sciences as well as audio visual and government documents collections. The Brinkerhoff Geology Library specializes in geology, geophysics, physical geography, mining and petroleum geology, and geological engineering. Also at the university are the George W. Hooper Law Library, the Library Annex, a high-density storage facility located in the basement of the UW Science Complex, the Rocky Mountain Herbarium Library, a learning resources center with materials for teachers and children, and an archives, rare book, and manuscript repository known as the American Heritage Center.

National Register sites

WY 07-05-2008 12;17;17PM
Marshal's carriage at Wyoming Territorial Prison

Twenty-one sites in Laramie, including the Wyoming Territorial Penitentiary, are included on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The prison site includes buildings and other exhibits from a frontier community of the late 19th century. The other sites are the Downtown Laramie Historic District, the Ivinson Mansion and Grounds, Old Main on the University of Wyoming campus, the Barn at Oxford Horse Ranch, Bath Ranch, Bath Row, Charles E. Blair House, John D. Conley House, Cooper Mansion, East Side School, Fort Sanders Guardhouse, William Goodale House, Lehman-Tunnell Mansion, Lincoln School, Richardson's Overland Trail Ranch, St. Matthew's Cathedral Close, St. Paulus Kirche, Snow Train Rolling Stock, Union Pacific Athletic Club, and the Vee Bar Ranch Lodge.

Ames Monument (Laramie, Wyoming)
The Ames Monument

Two other Albany County sites near Laramie are on the NRHP. About 20 miles (32 km) east of the city is the Ames Monument, a large granite pyramid dedicated to brothers Oakes Ames, a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from Massachusetts, and Oliver Ames, Jr., who were influential in building the Union Pacific portion of the First Transcontinental Railroad. Oakes Ames was also implicated in the Credit Mobilier scandal and censured by the U.S. House. The other site is Como Bluff, a long ridge extending east–west between Rock River and Medicine Bow. Geologic formations in the ridge contain fossils, including dinosaurs, from the Late Jurassic.

Parks and recreation

Wyoming Lincoln Monument 1
Lincoln Monument as seen from inside the Summit Information Center off of Interstate 80 about 9 miles (14 km) east of town

Laramie has 14 city parks that, among them, include playgrounds, seasonal wading pools, jogging and biking paths, baseball and softball fields, a skateboard park, horseshoe pits, tennis courts, volleyball courts, a fitness circuit court, soccer fields, picnic tables, river fishing, and a seasonally stocked fishing pond. Laramie residents also have access to the University of Wyoming's 18-hole golf course, as well as a wide variety of university recreation sites including squash courts, handball courts, baseball diamonds, basketball courts, a climbing wall, and fields for football, soccer, and track.

The Community Recreation Center has an outdoor swimming pool, an indoor pool, an eight-lane lap pool, water slides, a full-court gymnasium, cardio equipment, circuit weights, and an indoor playground, and it offers programs in adult fitness, youth volleyball, junior basketball, and aquatics.

Environmental problems

According to a 2012 report by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), a former industrial site for the production of aluminum, arsenic acid, strategic metals and cement now owned by L.C. Holdings, 2 miles (3.2 km) south of Laramie had arsenic concentrations in on-site water well samples 3,100-times higher than DEQ cleanup levels. The site has been storing a 1,000-ton pile of contaminated flue dust from Bunker Hill Mine and Smelting Complex, an Idaho superfund site, under a tarp since the 1980s. In 2011 L.C. Holdings entered the DEQ's "Voluntary Remediation Program".

Sports

College

The University of Wyoming Cowboys compete at the NCAA Division I level (FBS-Football Bowl Subdivision for football) as a member of the Mountain West Conference. UW offers 17 NCAA-sanctioned sports teams – nine women's sports and eight men's sports. Wyoming's nine NCAA sports for women include basketball; cross country; golf; soccer; swimming and diving; tennis; indoor track & field; outdoor track and field; and volleyball. UW's eight NCAA sports for men include basketball; cross country; football; golf; swimming and diving; indoor track and field; outdoor track and field; and wrestling.

Outdoor

Sports enthusiasts find much to do in and near Laramie, nestled at 7,165 feet (2,184 m) above sea level between the Laramie Range (Laramie Mountains) and the Snowy Range (Medicine Bow Mountains). Popular activities include skiing, snowmobiling, mountain biking, hunting, fishing, and hiking.

Rock climbing, hiking, and camping are among the attractions of Vedauwoo, an assemblage of weathered granite slabs, boulders, and cliffs covering 10 square miles (26 km2) in the Medicine Bow – Routt National Forest, about 16 miles (26 km) east of Laramie off Interstate 80.

Volunteers from the Medicine Bow Nordic Association, in cooperation with the Forest Service, maintain groomed cross-country ski trails in a sector of the Laramie Range about 10 miles (16 km) east of the city. To the west, Snowy Range cross-country trails run through the national forest west of Centennial, and other trails follow gentle terrain 32 miles (51 km) southwest of Laramie near Woods Landing. Miles of snowmobile trails wind through the forests, and many forest areas are open to travel by snowshoe. The Snowy Range Ski Area, about 30 miles (48 km) west of Laramie off Wyoming Highway 130, offers downhill skiing and snowboarding on 27 trails ranging in difficulty from beginner to expert.

Laramie is a center for mountain biking. Mountain bike trails meander through forests in the Laramie Range and the Snowy Range. The Medicine Bow Mountain Bike Patrol, part of the Laramie Bicycling Network, is a non-profit volunteer organization that works with the Forest Service to patrol and maintain biking trails east of Laramie. The Medicine Bow Rail–Trail is a mountain bike trail, 21 miles (34 km) long, built between 2005 and 2007 on the bed of an abandoned railroad southwest of Laramie. It starts near the town of Albany and Lake Owen and extends south to the town of Mountain Home near the Wyoming–Colorado border. The Laramie Enduro 111K, an endurance mountain bike race of 111 kilometres (69 mi) is held annually on Laramie Range trails.

Other annual events include the Poker Run recreational ski race held in the Snowy Mountains each February, and the Tour De Laramie, a bicycle rally with stops at local pubs held in May. The Wyoming Marathon Races, a series of running and ultra-running events held in Medicine Bow National Forest, are held annually each Memorial Day weekend.

Trout fishing is another popular sport in and near Laramie. The Laramie River, which flows north into Wyoming from Colorado, is fished as are the smaller streams in both mountain ranges and the many small plains lakes in the Laramie Basin.

Other outdoor activities popular near Laramie include camping, picnicking, rafting on the Laramie River and the North Platte River, viewing of wildlife such as mule deer, elk, moose, and pronghorn, and general sightseeing. For 27 miles (43 km) of its length as it crosses the Snowy Range, the Highway 130 corridor has been designated a National Forest Scenic Byway.

Education

Albany County School District #1, headquartered in Laramie, governs 19 public schools in an area of 4,000 square miles (10,000 km2) including Laramie, Centennial, Rock River, and rural locations. A total of about 4,000 students attend these schools, the Laramie fraction of which includes seven elementary schools, one middle school, Laramie High School, and Whiting High School. Snowy Range Academy, a charter school, serves children in grades K–7. The University of Wyoming also offers a Lab School (colloquially referred to as "Prep") for K–9 students.

St. Laurence, a Catholic school of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cheyenne, formerly served children in grades K–6. It opened in 1951 and in 2016 it had 30 students. It closed on June 30, 2016 as its costs had increased and the numbers of students had declined. Laramie Montessori School now occupies the campus.

The main campus of the University of Wyoming is in Laramie. In 2009, about 13,400 students were enrolled there at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels. A branch campus of Laramie County Community College is also in Laramie.

The WyoTech campus offers 9-month courses in Automotive Technology, Collision & Refinishing Technology, and Diesel Technology, as well as a variety of specialized industry programs—including High-Performance Power Trains, Street Rod, Trim and Upholstery, Chassis Fabrication, and Applied Service Management.

Infrastructure and transportation

Major highways

  • I-80 East-West Interstate running from California to New Jersey. Intersects US 287 in Laramie.
  • I-80 Bus. Alternate Business Route running from I-80 just east of Laramie, concurrent with Grand Avenue, through the city to North 3rd Street, US 287.
  • US 30 (Lincoln Highway)
  • US 287 (Yellowstone Highway)
  • WYO 130 (Snowy Range Road)
  • WYO 230 (Meg the Mumbler Road)

Airport

SkyWest Airlines (United) provides daily commercial flights between Laramie Regional Airport and Denver, Colorado. The airport, 3 miles (5 km) west of the central business district, is operated and financed by the City of Laramie and Albany County. In addition to commercial flights, the airport serves private and corporate planes and atmospheric research aircraft from the University of Wyoming.

Ground Transportation

Laramie has multiple taxi companies, as well as Uber service, which launched in 2017.

For intercity service, Laramie is served by Greyhound Lines, with service to and from Cheyenne and Fort Collins. Green Ride of Northern Colorado provides service from Laramie to Fort Collins and Denver International Airport.

Laramie had passenger rail service from the Union Pacific until 1971. Amtrak continued service until 1983 on the Pioneer, then again from 1991 to 1997. Only curbside Thruway bus service is currently available.

The former Union Pacific passenger depot in Laramie was donated to the Laramie Plains Museum in 1985, and then to the Laramie Railroad Depot Association in 2009, which operates it as a small museum and a venue for community events.

Utilities

The city's drinking water comes from the Big Laramie River, the largest single source, and wellfields in the Casper Aquifer, and it is treated in a modern plant. The city's wastewater plant, which replaced an older plant, began operation in 1998. The Solid Waste Division operates the city-owned landfill, about 1 mile (1.6 km) north of the city. Laramie has 135 miles (217 km) of streets and 31 miles (50 km) of alleys.

Notable people

  • Craig Arnold (1967–c. 2009), poet, professor
  • Thurman Arnold (1891–1969), lawyer
  • Jim Beaver (born 1950), actor, writer, film historian
  • Jaycee Carroll (born 1983), basketball player
  • William L. Carlisle (1890–1964), one of America's last train robbers, lived in the town
  • Jesseca Cross (born 1975), former track and field athlete
  • Tommy Davidson (born 1963), actor
  • Sheridan H. Downey (1884–1961), lawyer, U.S. Senator
  • George Carr Frison (1924–2020), archaeologist
  • Grace Raymond Hebard (1861–1936), Wyoming historian, suffragist, pioneering scholar, prolific writer, political economist and noted University of Wyoming educator
  • H. L. Hix (born 1960), poet, academic
  • Raymond A. Johnson (1912–1984), aviation pioneer
  • Tom Lubnau (born 1958), politician and lawyer who served as Speaker of the Wyoming House of Representatives from 2013 to 2015
  • Cody Lundin (born 1967), survival instructor; teaches modern wilderness survival skills, primitive living skills, urban preparedness, and homesteading
  • William Mulloy (1917–1978), anthropologist
  • Timothy Mellon (born 1942), businessman, and the chairman and majority owner of Pan Am Systems
  • Edgar Wilson Nye (1850–1896), a.k.a. Edgar Wilson "Bill" Nye, nineteenth-century humorist, lived in Laramie from 1876-1887
  • Wayde Preston (1929–1992), actor
  • Chip Rawlins (born 1949), writer
  • Gerry Spence (born 1929), trial lawyer
  • Pete Simpson (born 1930), university administrator, historian, politician
  • Brad Watson (1955–2020), author, academic
  • Jamila Wideman (born 1975), female left-handed point guard basketball player, lawyer
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