Forgotten Landmark-Town of New Fork (WY)

Photo courtesy of Google Maps Streetview, accessed 10/15/2011

 

The New Fork town site consists of several log and wood frame structures representing one of the
earliest settlements and commercial centers in the isolated upper Green River
Valley. The small ranching settlement was established by John Vible and Louis
Broderson in 1888 near the New Fork and East Fork Rivers. Both men were Danish
emigrants who had come to America in 1884. They met while working on the Oregon
Short Line railroad in western Wyoming and Idaho. The two men pooled their
meager resources into an informal partnership. They planned to file on
homesteads in order to raise cattle and to start a mercantile business by
locating a store close to the Lander Cut-off of the Oregon Trail. The partners
built a small log structure which served as the store, trading post, and living
quarters. The location became known as New Fork.

By the end of 1908, the town boasted a school, a saloon, a hotel, a barbershop, a livery and a
blacksmith shop, and a wood-frame house with a bay window owned by the saloon
keeper Frank Seabolt, in addition to the Vible stores and residence. In 1909
and 1910, John Vible contracted with locally prominent carpenters to build a
large frame dance hall. He named it Valhalla after the Norse Heaven populated
by heroes slain in battle. The dance hall became the focal point of community
activity including dances and political rallies.

By 1918, the post office was discontinued and mail was then delivered to nearby Boulder. New Fork had
gradually been eclipsed by other communities, including Pinedale which became
the county seat when Sublette County was created in 1921. Transportation
patterns had changed over the years, and the Lander Cut-off fell into disuse.
Railroad transportation never reached the upper Green River Valley. A scarlet
fever and diphtheria epidemic struck the Vible family in late 1915, and John
Vible, his daughter and two elder sons died within a period of two weeks. These
factors contributed to the demise of New Fork.[i]

Site is 3.1 miles south of Boulder, WY on U.S. Highway 191.


[i]
New Fork, National Register of Historic Places; Wyoming State Preservation
Office; http://wyoshpo.state.wy.us/NationalRegister/Site.aspx?ID=379

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