Hartville, Wyoming, with a population of about 80, has one of the most interesting histories of any of Wyoming's towns or cities. Prospectors first came into this area about the same time they were looking for gold in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
In the 1870's gold was on everyone's mind. But what they found in Eureka Canyon was copper and iron ore. And they found it in amounts that justified two communities...Sunrise would later become a company town owned by the Colorado Fuel and Iron Corporation and Hartville became the rowdy boomtown. Indeed, it was a substantial enough town that Hartville became incorporated in 1884. Today it claims to be the "oldest incorporated town in Wyoming that is still in existence."
In its early days Hartville had all the amenities of a town much larger in size. Not only did it have the mercantiles, cafes, hardware stores and livery stables that one would expect, but it also boasted an opera house, thirteen saloons, several gaming houses, and two newspapers!
The copper ran out, but CF&I operated an iron ore mine at Sunrise until the 1970's. Since that time, Hartville has become a sleepy town with a large number of retirees who enjoy the simple, quiet pace of life. Except for a couple of bars and the post office, not much else was happening on Main Street. But all that seems to be changing.
A group of enthusiastic residents are working overtime to develop Hartville into a destination for tourists who love history, mountains and the great outdoors. And why not? Hartville's location in Eureka Canyon is idyllic, Guernsey State Park is just around the corner from downtown, and there's enough history here to fill volumes!
Another movement is also underway that is changing the face of Hartville. Storefronts that have been empty for a quarter of a century are wearing a clean coat of paint and recently cleaned windows. And inside you will find businesses and faces that are new in town. Online businesses, including a coffee retail business and a candle retail business, have recently opened their doors here, and a bed and breakfast inn will be opening soon.
The changes in the business atmosphere are being supported by improvements in the town's infrastructure. A new state-of-the-art municipal water treatment facility will easily take care of the growth this community is now experiencing.
Hartville is definitely a community with spirit, a vision of greatness, and and a "can do" attitude. Expect lots of the unexpected to happen here in the next decade, and if you want to see it the way it used to be, you'd better get there soon.