Cooke City Downtown

Cooke City

Cooke City is located on the northeastern edge of the Yellowstone National Park boundary and is accessed either by the Beartooth National Scenic Byway or by driving through the park.

Shoo-Fly, the original name of the mining town now known as Cooke City was changed by the miners in 1880 to honor Jay Cooke, Jr. Cooke, a Northern Pacific Railroad contractor and the son of an investor in the Northern Pacific Railroad, promised not only to promote the area’s development but also to help bring a railroad to the town. However, he got into financial difficulties, forfeited his bond, and his bonded mining claims reverted back to the original owners. by the 1870s, the town was booming. A few years later, Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce stormed through town and burnt down much of the gold mining facilities. Although they were reconstructed, due to their hard-to-reach location, the boom did not last very long. Old cabins are leftover from the mining days and the town reflects the past very well.

The town of Cooke City and the land around it were within the Crow Reservation until 1882 when the boundaries of the reservation were shifted eastward. Shortly after moving these boundaries, 1,450 mining claims were staked and recorded in the New World District. Most of these claims lapsed after a year. By 1883, Cooke City had grown to a community of about 135 log huts and tents.

John P. Allen was the first person to drive a four-horse team and loaded wagon to town. In 1883 he built the Allen Hotel, later renamed the Cosmopolitan. Eventually, he opened three mines: the O-Hara, War Eagle, and McKinley.

The townsite was platted in 1883, had two hundred twenty-seven voters, two smelters, two sawmills three general stores, two hotels, two livery stables, and a meat market. However, because of the large number of irregularly shaped mining claims and the problems of organizing them, it took eight years to complete the surveying and platting.

Today, Cooke City has a year-round population of approximately 90 people. The population expands to over three hundred when summer residents arrive The town has a rustic "old west" atmosphere, which can be traced to its mining roots. However, tourism is currently the mainstay of the economy.

This is a tourist destination, with people pouring in from both sides, but with Cooke City’s past, it is easy to see why.

Source: Cooke City Chamber of Commerce

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