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"Big Piney, the oldest permanent settlement of white people in Sublette County, Wyo., was named by Daniel B. Budd for the Piney Creeks—North, Middle and South—that flow off the east flank of the Wyoming Range to join the Green River. In 1879, Budd and his partner, Hugh McKay, came through the area when they trailed in a thousand head of cattle from Nevada with plans to ship them east to market from Point of Rocks in south-central Wyoming Territory on the Union Pacific Railroad.

"Before they could reach their destination, another 140 miles away, winter set in, and the men were forced to move the livestock to South Piney Creek to wait out the season. When spring came, they discovered the cattle had thrived on the local grass. Budd decided to stay in the area and soon brought his family.

"Budd was not the first to bring livestock to the Piney Creek area, however. In 1878, Ed Swan, most recently from Idaho, brought cattle with the PL brand. That same year, Otto Leifer, originally from Virginia, brought five to seven hundred head of cattle branded with the Circle. When these cattlemen arrived, they found Dick Fagan raising horses on North Piney Creek.

"During the early years, most Green River Valley cattle grazed on open range. No one cut and stacked hay except a few ranchers who cut grass growing beside the sloughs to feed their horses and milk cows. There were no fences except for a few corrals near the ranch houses.

"All that changed, though, in the severe winter of 1889-1890, when most of the cattle starved to death. (This was three years after the disastrous winter of 1886-87, when the cattle business suffered so badly in much of the rest of Wyoming Territory.) In the Green River Valley it was called the “Equalizer Winter;” as the loss from severe weather devastated prosperous and poorer ranchers alike."


Big Piney and Marbleton, Wyoming at