About Kemmerer, Wyoming

Located in southwest Wyoming’s high desert region, Kemmerer is the county seat of Lincoln County and is home to approximately 2,400 residents. This small town has a rich history intertwined with prehistoric fossils, pioneering retailers, and coal mining.

The Kemmerer area was once covered by an ancient freshwater lake during the Eocene Epoch over 50 million years ago. This freshwater lake, known as Fossil Lake, is the reason that Kemmerer and Fossil Basin are known today for having some of the world’s best-preserved fossils. Fossil Butte National Monument now protects a portion of this fossil bed.

In the late 1800s, explorers discovered rich coal seams and Kemmerer grew rapidly into a railroad town and mining center. For decades, local mines fueled regional industry growth.

In 1902, amidst the mining boom, James Cash Penney opened the “Golden Rule Store” in Kemmerer, marking the humble beginnings of his namesake JCPenney empire. The JCPenney “Mother Store” remains open for shopping today, continuing to sell JCPenney merchandise and also displaying some artifacts from the original 1902 store.

Decades beyond its pioneer past, present-day Kemmerer retains its small-town charm and connections to yesteryear. Historic attractions, fossil digging, and fossil shops continue to draw interest, reminding visitors of the natural and economic forces that shaped this community.

Fossil Basin
Fish the Layers of Time