Douglas

Founded In: 1886

Population: 6,120

Elevation: 4,836 feet

Median Income: $36,944

Chamber of Commerce:  http://www.jackalope.org/

Douglas was put on the map in 1886 when the Wyoming Central Railway established a station. The settlement existed since 1867 as part of Fort Fetterman and was simply a tent city on the banks of the North Platte River. When platted, it was officially named Douglas after Senator Stephen A Douglas. The city continued to grow after it became a stop on several railways, including the Fremont, Elkhorn, and Missouri Valley Railroad.

In 1932, the legend of the jackalope emerged, instigated by Douglas Herrick and his brother’s study of taxidermy by mail order. After going on a jackrabbit hunting trip, the brothers tossed a jackrabbit carcass into their shop. The rabbit landed beneath a pair of deer antlers, and thus, the jackalope legend was born. The city of Douglas was designated the “Home of the Jackalope” by the state of Wyoming in 1985. Douglas now issues “Jackalope Hunting Licenses” to tourists that are good for June 31st of each year.

 

Climate

Douglas has a semi-arid climate, like the majority of Wyoming, meaning it has a humid continental climate with warm summers and no dry season. The warm season generally lasts from June 18 to September 5. The cold season lasts from November 17 to March 8. Douglas, on average, gets 14 inches of rain and 52 inches of snow per year.

 

Economy

Agriculture, primarily cattle ranching, serves an important role in the area economy. The energy industry also holds a strong presence in Douglas. Much of America’s energy comes from coal mines north of Douglas. Additionally, a recent increase in oil and gas production in the area sparked in the area.

 

Things to Do

Douglas’ location is perfect for the sports and outdoor enthusiasts. Medicine Bow National Forest (http://www.fs.usda.gov/mbr) is located nearby, as is Thunder Basin National Grassland. These large locations cover 2.9 million acres from Colorado to Wyoming. Douglas provides access to sightseeing and experiencing beautiful mountain ranges, grasslands, streams, and forests. Whether you enjoy hiking, biking, camping, horse riding, OHV riding, fishing, hunting, sightseeing, photography, or winter sports, the Douglas area is right for you!

Yet another beautiful area is Ayres Natural Bridge (http://wyoshpo.state.wy.us/trailsdemo/ayersbridge.htm).  The arch over Laprele Creek proved difficult to find during the pioneer days, but is now actively part of a trail that crosses Laprele Creek approximately two miles north of Natural Bridge.

The former Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad Passenger Depot in Douglas, built in 1886, is included on the National Register of Historic Places. In the Depot is the Douglas Railroad Interpretive Center (http://www.wyohistory.org/field-trips/douglas-railroad-interpretive-center). This exhibit contains eight railroad vehicles, one steam locomotive with tender, and seven cars including streamline passenger cars and a dining car.

If you happen to be in Douglas in August, then you definitely need to attend the Wyoming State Fair  (http://www.wystatefair.com/). It is known for its rodeo and animal competitions, as well as a carnival midway and live entertainment. While at the fairgrounds, don’t miss the Wyoming Pioneer Memorial Museum (http://wyoparks.state.wy.us/Site/SiteInfo.aspx?siteID=32). This museum houses a historical collection of pioneer and Native American relics from the area.

If you enjoy history, then you will enjoy the Fort Fetterman State Historic Site (http://wyoparks.state.wy.us/Site/SiteInfo.aspx?siteID=190). Located north of Douglas, this fort is preserved as a reminder of that colorful era known as the “Winning of the West.” The restored officer’s quarters and an ordnance warehouse house exhibits many artifacts of the Fort’s history, Fetterman City, and its Indian predecessors.

Another interesting piece of history, years beyond the “Winning of the West,” is the Douglas WWII P.O.W. Camp. Between January 1943 and February 1946, the camp housed first Italian, then German prisoners of war in the United States. The walls of the Officer’s Club remain painted with murals originally completed by three Italian prisoners and depict Western life and folklore.

Since Fort Fetterman days, Douglas perseveres as a center of American horse culture. In fact, the remains of the first winner of American Racing’s Triple Crown, thoroughbred Sir Barton, are buried in Douglas!  Still offering horse culture, Two Creek Ranch offers hands-on horse and ranching experience.  (http://www.twocreekranch.net/). This working cattle ranch just south of Douglas allows visitors to live and work as a guest on seven different cattle-moving experiences, or simply sit-back, and enjoy daily life on a ranch.

 

Shopping in Douglas

Main Street, Douglas, thanks to special attention from a group of downtown merchants, is seeing a growth in activity. Restaurants, boutiques, flower shops and bookstores make Douglas a fun place to spend the day. Many of the businesses are even housed in historic buildings.

  • A Fresh Attitude Floral (http://www.afreshattitudefloral.com/): Offers beautiful, fresh flower arrangements.
  • Above the Cellar: Art and craft supplies, fabric, cake decorating, candy making, rubber stamps, and scrapbooking.
  • City Shoe and Saddle Shop: Boots and shoes for all occasions, plus Indian jewelry, Western wear, knives, and saddles.
  • Curly’s Leisure Sports: Locally owned sporting goods shop.
  • Father Hubbard’s Cupboard: Thrift store items to help you take back a piece of Wyoming.
  • Jen’s Books: Browse 25,000 books in store or over 18,500 books online. Specializing in Western history.
  • The Prairie Stitcher: If you love to quilt, you’ll love this store!
  • This N That Store: Thrift store offering old stuff, new stuff, books, jewelry, watches, tools, and good old plain junk.
  • Whistle Stop Mercantile (http://www.whistlestopbooks.com/): A big-city-bookstore shopping experience specializing in titles and topics about the West, often written by regional and local authors.

 

Dining in Douglas

Although a small town, Douglas is big on flavor. Check out any of these fine dining choices:

  • The Depot Restaurant: In Douglas’ historic train depot, offering steaks and fresh burgers, sandwiches, and pastas, a large salad bar, homemade soups, and old-fashioned desserts.
  •  La Costa: Authentic Mexican dining.
  •  Friendz Pizzeria: Offering pizza and a wide selection of beers and mixed drinks.
  • Sapporo (http://2-sapporowy.menucities.com/): Japanese steak house, hibachi, and sushi.
  • Douglas Community Club (http://www.douglaswygolf.com/restaurant.html): The Douglas golf course grill provides sandwiches, wraps, paninis, salads, burgers, and pasta dishes.
  • Lindy’s Coffee Shop: Coffee, soups, salads, and sandwiches.
  • Broken Wheel Truck Stop: Family style restaurant serving American cuisine.
  • Village Inn (http://www.villageinn.com/locations/700124): Breakfast served all day long, plus burgers, sandwiches, chicken fried steak, and delicious desserts.
  • Clementines Cattle Company: Casual steakhouse for the entire family.
  • Waterhole: Full-service liquor store, bar and grill servings burgers, sandwiches, appetizers and more.
  • Four Seasons Chinese: Chinese cuisine offering dine-in, takeout, and delivery.
  • Home Bakery: In downtown Douglas since August 1965, offering doughnuts, cookies, and cakes for all occasions.

 

Living in Douglas 

In 1996, Douglas was listed by Norman Crampton as one of the “100 Best Small Towns in America.” As home to just over 3,000 residents, this small town has a community atmosphere with easy access to numerous amenities.

The residents of Douglas take great pride in their town and work hard to make improvements. One recent improvement is the Jackalope Bridge that provides a scenic crossing on the North Platte River. Once across the river, residents and tourists can enjoy miles of walkway, enjoying the beautiful Douglas area.


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