Driving to the town of Dewey, near the Wyoming border, means driving hours through the arid prairies. While Dewey isn’t a town anymore, some remnants of its past still remain like homes with peeling paint and decrepit barns.
The town was originally known as S & G Ranch, named after its founders Sturgis and Goodell. When the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad came to town, the economy boomed and the name was changed to the short and sweet Dewey, likely named for Admiral George Dewey, a Spanish-American War hero. Cattle were shipped by the rail and it became a busy little economic center in the otherwise lonely prairie.
Just west of town is a landmark called the Dewey Notch that was used in the early 20th century when livestock were driven to the railroad in town. When coming into the town from the west, the mark pointed cattle drivers in the right direction.
“When anyone coming in from the west topped the ridge at the Notch they could see Dewey and knew that their livestock would soon be loaded in rail cars and that they could purchase supplies and renew old friendships in this frontier town,” reads a sign in the abandoned town.
There were plenty of buildings in town, such as the church, post office, school, and a busy main street with shops of all variety. Some of these buildings still stand.
However, the railroad boom didn’t last forever, and the cattle-shipping railroad became obsolete as automobiles grew in prominence. Few people moved into the town, due to the bitter cold winters and the isolation from other towns, and the town was slowly abandoned.
Today, there isn’t much left, aside from several buildings with busted out windows and grass sprouting between the floorboards. A couple ranchers still call the area home.
(There is a popular geocache in town, so keep your eyes peeled and GPS handy.)
By Kelsey Sinclair