Kemmerer, Wyoming's Fossil Basin is Lost in Time

The Fossil Basin area is home to a 52-million-year-old graveyard that preserves an ancient underwater world of fish, turtles, crocodiles, insects, mammals, birds and leaves.
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Digging for fossils in Wyoming. Photo courtesy of Fossil Basin

Digging for fossils in Wyoming. Photo courtesy of Fossil Basin

Dig up your own piece of history after leaving Yellowstone.

Step back in time and bring a memento of history back home when you visit the vibrant, rich communities of Kemmerer/Diamondville.

“Kemmerer is a nice friendly, little town with a great history,” says Ellen Potter, executive director for the Frontier Arts Council.  “It’s a place where everybody knows you.”

With a population of roughly 2,600 citizens, Kemmerer grew from roots in coal mining, railroads and bootlegging more than 100 years ago. In its former glory, the town's older houses had secret tunnels under them where people smuggled liquor, which was illegal under Prohibition. Consequently, the town used to be nicknamed “Lil Chicago” as an homage to Al Capone, says Page.

Unearth Your Own Fossil In Kemmerer

Outside of Kemmerer/Diamondville, the land is basically a 52-million-year-old graveyard that preserves an ancient aquatic ecosystem. 

At one of the area's private quarries, visitors can be a paleontologist for a day digging through layers of time. These affordable quarry digs provide a perfect souvenir. Fossils range from fossil fish, fossil plants, turtles, stingrays, birds and many forms of aquatic life. There also are fossils for sale in downtown Kemmerer. 

Travel nine miles west of Kemmerer/Diamondville to visit the Fossil Butte National Monument and Visitor Center. The visitor center has exhibits with more than 300 different fossils on display, and there are two trails and a scenic drive at Fossil Butte for visitors to get a lay of the land. 

 

Visit Historical Triangle Park In Kemmerer

Kemmerer even has a celebrity in retail, as the home of the first J.C. Penney store, which opened up in 1902 by James Cash Penney. The building is still a functioning J.C. Penney retail store located in Triangle Park. 

If you are looking for art and souvenirs made by artist and crafters in Wyoming, visit Crafter’s Cottage and Tourism in the center of Triangle Park, the old town square where buildings are roughly 100 years old.

What makes Kemmerer/Diamondville special has to be the people. Locals still meet at Triangle Park, where car enthusiasts show off their old vintage cars. They enjoy the farmer’s market hosted on the weekend and wet their whistle at the 115-year-old bar, The Stock Exchange, built in 1902. If you need a bite to eat, locals recommend El Jalisciense and its massive burrito. While at Ham’s Fork Grill, make sure to order the chicken fried steak.

Summertime In Kemmerer

In the summer, the Kemmerer city council hosts multiple festivals, such as the Oyster Ridge Music Festival and Fossil Fest. During Oyster Ridge Music Festival known as “Wyoming’s Largest Free Music Festival,” people come from all over to enjoy the family festivities as well as the bluegrass and country musicians, which takes place in late July. In 208, the festival dates are  July 27-29, 2018. 

Fossil Fest is a festival focused on family in downtown Kemmerer, with many recreational events happening such as a parade, beauty pageant, 5K run, dodgeball tournament and water fight, scheduled in June. 

Kemmerer//Diamondville is a place with a real sense of community. 

“Kemmerer may be small but there is a lot of room for growth,” says Potter.

More information:
(855) FOSSIL-0
www.fossilbasin.org

Kemmerer Chamber of Commerce
Center of Town Square
1027 US-189, Kemmerer, WY 83101
kemmerer.org

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