Wheatland, the county seat of Platte County, is the largest of our five communities. With a population of just under 4,000, Wheatland is a vibrant town surrounded by prosperous farms and cattle ranches.
Wheatland is on Interstate 25, the only north-south interstate in Wyoming. The community is conveniently located an hour north of Cheyenne, 1 1/2 hours from Laramie and the University of Wyoming, 2 hours south of Casper, and 2 1/2 hours north of Denver.
Wheatland is not only the business, commercial and governmental hub of Platte County, but the medical center as well. A new state-of-the-art hospital rose from the dust and rubble of the old Platte County Memorial Hospital, and construction will continue as the Platte County Nursing Home, a part of the complex, prepares for updating in the near future. Both facilities are staffed with competent, caring professionals. A medical clinic, two dental clinics and an eye clinic are also located in Wheatland.
In the late 1990's Wheatland's downtown began a make-over when the business loop through town was redone. Soon after, a one-of-a-kind pocket park was completed, including beautiful wall murals depicting life in our county, a splendid water feature, public restrooms and picnic tables. This community project has added tremendously to the aesthetics of downtown. Since the completion of the murals in the pocket park, a group of industrious, talented people have undertaken a project involving the painting of murals throughout Wheatland. Primarily found in the historic downtown district, these murals are a wonderful way to learn more about the community while spending part of a day walking through this clean, friendly community.
Did we mention recreation? Wheatland is in the center of Platte County making for easy access to the many outdoor opportunities nearby. During our pleasant summers daytime temperatures are warm and evenings are usually cool making it the perfect time to enjoy our many lakes, streams, and mountain destinations. In the immediate area, three smaller lakes are within a 15 minute drive. Festo Lake and Rock Lake are a fun place to fish, camp or picnic. Wheatland Reservoir #1, affectionately known as the "Little Rez," attracts a hundred or more outdoor enthusiasts on weekends who fish, camp, boat, water ski, canoe, and jetski.
For folks who like the larger lakes and don't mind the larger crowds, Glendo Lake, Guernsey Lake and Grayrocks Lake, our "3 G's," might be just right for you. Guernsey and Glendo are state parks and offer more amenities. Grayrocks has recently recovered from low water levels, the result of a ten-year drought. Its capacity is at 100% of normal, and boaters, campers, fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts are back. Stop at any business in the county for directions to this premier fishing/boating lake just 15 minutes west of Wheatland.
West of Wheatland are several roads that take you to the Laramie Mountains, part of the Medicine Bow National Forest, in just twenty minutes. Hiking trails, fishing streams and lakes, wildlife viewing and more await you, and it's easy to spend a full day or even a 3-day weekend exploring this rugged mountain playground.
Business opportunities abound in the Wheatland area. A positive outlook on the future of alternative energy, especially wind generation of electricity, has fueled renewed optimism in the future of the community, despite the national economic downturn.
Wheatland is home to an industrial park adjacent to the Laramie River Power Station, a 1,500 megawatt coal fed power plant southeast of Wheatland. Industries locating in this park have the option of using warm wastewater from the power plant for heating. Commercial fish ponds and greenhouses are seen as the most logical type of industry for this park.
The Britz Business Park, on the northwest end of Wheatland offers large manufacturing and retail lots just off exit 80 of Interstate 25 while the Garrett Industrial Park, a mile north of town on State Highway 320, is the newest development for industry in the Wheatland area.
It would be impossible to discuss Wheatland's strong economy without emphasizing the agricultural segment. The Wheatland Irrigation District formed in the late 1800's as the Wyoming Development Company by a group of visionaries including Joseph M. Carey who would later become governor of Wyoming. Literally thousands of settlers came west to the Wheatland Flats to buy acreage in the "Wheatland Colony."
As the farms developed and prospered, a flour mill, creamery, alfalfa mill and sugar beet factory were built. More settlers arrived, many of whom chose to start businesses to serve the farmers. Roads, telephone lines, postal service and a hospital and nursing school were soon constructed.
Many experimental crops were planted in the early years, including potatoes, sugar beets, fruit orchards, and berries. Wheat, alfalfa, corn, sugar beets, barley and oats seemed to do best in the semiarid prairies of southeastern Wyoming, and today much of what is produced is used as feed for the thousands of head of cattle that are raised in Platte County.
With the interest in alternative energy, Wheatland and Platte County have become a haven for wind developers who are in the process of signing contracts with seven wind associations in Platte County. We have some of the best wind in the world for wind turbines, and by 2014 Wheatland and the other four communities should see substantial growth in population and economy as a result.
As wind becomes a dominant energy source in the Wheatland area, community leaders are working hard to attract companies who assemble the turbines, build parts for the turbines, or transport them to other parts of the country.
Wheatland will continue to diversify its economy as it has always done beginning with the first permanent settlers who arrived here by wagon or rail in the late 1800's.