National Register of Historic Places


Jelm-Frank Smith Ranch

Albany County

Date Added to Register

Thursday, August 31, 1978

Smithsonian Number

48AB134

Read all about it

Three and a half miles south of Woods Landing, in the bottomland of the Big Laramie River, is the site of Cummins City, later named Jelm, and later a part of the Frank Smith Ranch. The historic district is just over a half-mile wide and includes a portion of Highway 10, as well as a portion of the lower slopes of both Jelm Mountain to the east and the Medicine Bow Mountains to the west. Nineteen structures are found at Jelm and the Frank Smith Ranch Headquarters.

Cummins City developed as a mining camp. Placer gold is reported to have been discovered in the Medicine Bow Range as early as 1858. In 1879 new prospects were discovered in gold-bearing quartz along the Upper Big Laramie River at Jelm Mountain. John Cummins promoted his mining interests in the region and by 1880 a plot for the new town called Cummins City was drawn up. Numerous buildings were erected including individual cabins, a boarding house, a meat and vegetable market, paint store, restaurants, blacksmith shops and a livery stable, and at least one bar. However, by the end of 1881 Cummins City began to decline. By 1886 it was reported that with two exceptions at a copper mine and at a bismuth mine, no mining had been done in the Cummins City district.

Later, near the turn of the twentieth century, interest in the mining district was revived by the discovery of copper in the Medicine Bow and Sierra Madre ranges, and in 1898 the Jelm Mining District was created. A new town plan was drawn up and in 1900 Cummins City was resurrected as Jelm. Mining carried on intermittently at Jelm, although it was not a large or permanent settlement. One who worked at both Cummins City and Jelm was Frank Smith. Smith was employed by John Cummins in the Jelm Mining boom. Following the decline of the gold mining district, Smith established a homestead on the east bank of the Big Laramie River near the Jelm townsite. The Frank Smith Ranch is an example of an early pioneer Wyoming ranch. Because of the association of its original owner with the development of the Jelm Mining District, because of the physical proximity of the ranch headquarters to the Jelm townsite, and because of architectural similarities between the headquarters and the townsite, the two have been placed together in a historic district.

Department of State Parks & Cultural Resources