HISTORIC JAY EM
On the National Register of Historic Places!
Tours of Historic Jay Em, Wyoming are available by appointment.
Touring Jay Em is the perfect compliment to a day at Fort Laramie. Book a tour and explore the next chapter in western history (settlement)! Find out more below
History of Jay Em
Jay Em is located on the old Texas Trail, running north through Goshen County, and featured the last watering hole before reaching Lusk. The land around the watering hole was claimed by Jim Moore in the 1860s. By 1869, Moore had the second largest cattle ranch in the Wyoming Territory, under the brand “J Rolling M”, leading to the naming of a small drainage “Jay Em Creek”. Moore died in 1875, but his brand outlived him. In 1905, Silas Harris and his three sons took over the Jay Em Cattle Company. One of his sons, Lake Harris, established a post office in the Jay Em Ranch’s bunkhouse, bringing the mail from Rawhide Buttes. The Harris family also established a general store on the ranch.
Lake Harris filed a homestead claim in 1912 on Rawhide Creek, where he planned and built a small town. The streets were never paved or graveled, there were never sidewalks, curbs or gutters, and there was no municipal organization or community center. Jay Em’s buildings were constructed with local materials, and they demonstrate a rare consistency of architectural design. The district is a tightly knit commercial district with all buildings within a block of each other.
The town continued through the 1920s and 1930s as a regional center for commerce in northern Goshen County. In 1935, Lake Harris established the Jay Em Stone Company, making tombstones and building products from stone quarried around the Rawhide Buttes. After the 1930s, Jay Em declined as the automobile made it easier for local residents to travel to larger towns. The general store lasted until the late 1970s. Lake Harris died in 1983 at the age of 96. The few remaining residents of Jay Em have moved to more modern accommodations scattered around the edge of town, leaving the center vacant.
Alternate Spellings: JM
The tour is free with donations requested. The tour consists of 7 buildings consisting of 1 city block and a tour generally takes 90 min to 3 hours to complete depending on the level of detail you want: Garage/Filling Station, Black Smith Forge and Shop, Hardware & Grocery Store, Bank, Post Office, Mill, Church. There is a picnic spot with outdoor restrooms below the church. Please bring your own food and water as there are no services in Jay Em.
Seasonal: May – September (By Appointment Only)
Contacts: Marjorie at (307) 735-4364 or Hazel (307) 322-2839.
(Please give a couple days notice as tour operators do not live in Jay Em)
Special Notes: Bring your own food and water
Length of Tour: 90 min to 3 hours depending on interest level
Cost: Free with Donations