Date of Award:
Master of Arts (MA)
Most people are at least aware that, in the past, companies that owned mines, lumber mills, and other large-scale industrial projects in isolated areas also ran company towns. For many people, such towns conjure up images miserable working conditions, exploitative company stores, and inadequate shacks for most workers, while managers live in relative luxury up on “snob knob.” Most people are also fairly certain that such towns, at least in the United States, died out about the same time as the horse and buggy. Several industries in Wyoming, however, continued to support company towns through the end of the 20th century, with one such town surviving into the early 2000s.
This project looks at two of these towns supported by the uranium mining and milling industry that dominated central Wyoming’s economy for about 30 years starting in the mid-1950s. These towns, Gas Hills and Jeffrey City, along with Wyoming’s other modern company towns represent a new era in the history of these communities. Furthermore, they actually had many advantages for inhabitants, companies, and the local economy, especially compared to a small conventional community located near a resource boom. Often, and in contrast to the towns in this thesis, conventional towns must scramble to meet the demands of a massive migration, only to be left with unpaid bonds when the resource dries up or becomes no longer profitable.
Larsen, Zachary R., "In Defense of the Modern Company Town: Wyoming's Uranium Communities" (2019). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 7633.
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