energy capital of the nation
Gillette is centrally located in an area involved with the development of vast quantities of American coal, oil and gas Over the last decade, the population has increased 48 percent. Founded in 1891 with the coming of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, it was named for Edward Gillette, who worked as a surveyor for the company.
The Rockpile Museum documents life in early Gillette. After the railroad moved to Sheridan, Gillette survived in order to serve the ranchers, cowboys, and homesteaders who were trying to make a life in the countryside surrounding the town. Cattlemen drove their herds into the livestock yards at Gillette for sale and transportation to the markets back east. Industrious citizens set up businesses to cater to these people and any who passed through. Livery barns, stables, and blacksmiths popped up to house travelers’ horses and haulers’ draft teams. Bars and brothels catered to those who pursued that lifestyle.
Tourism Gillette’s inclusion on the Black and Yellow Trail in 1912, a highway extending from the Black Hills to Yellowstone, brought many different travelers and tourists into town via automobile resulting in construction of tourist camps, cottages, and motels along with cafes and eateries.
The Gillette Syndrome is named for the social disruptions that occur in towns experiencing rapid growth; during the 1960s, Gillette doubled its population from 3,580 to 7,194 resulting in increased crime, high costs of living and weakened social and community bonds.
Geography Gillette is situated between the Bighorn Mountains and the Black Hills in the Powder River Basin. Devils Tower rises 1,267 feet – 386 m – above the Belle Fourche River; the summit is 5,112 feet – 1,559 m – above sea level.
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