Main street, Kirwin

Kirwin, Wyoming lies outside of Meeteetse. It was once a mining town of around 200 people, with the first shipment of ore transported out in 1897. The town itself sits at over 9,000 feet, and is in a valley between 12,000 foot mountains. In the winter of 1907 a heavy storm dumped huge amounts of snow on the town, and then an avalanche killed 3 people and destroyed several buildings including the general store. Because the area turned out to be a bust, with only small amounts of poor quality gold and silver, most people packed up and left Kirwin when the roads cleared after the storm. They left behind their buildings and belongings.

In the early 1930s, a man named Carl Dunrud purchased the area around Kirwin and built a dude ranch several miles outside of town. Amelia Earhart (yes, that Amelia Earhart) was one of the guests, and asked Dunrud to build her a cabin near Kirwin. The cabin was never completed after she vanished in 1937. 

A corner of Amelia Earhart’s cabin can be seen near the red-roofed building in this photo.  The cabin with the red roof is a forest service building. Earhart’s cabin was never finished, and is nothing more than a few logs stacked on top of one another.
The dude ranch.

We rode into Kirwin on 4-wheelers, so we could travel a bit slower and see more of the country. And while 4-wheeler rides are not my favorite thing in the world, it was totally worth it for this trip. It is possible to drive a truck back into Kirwin, but that probably would have freaked me the hell out. 150 foot drops into rushing rivers have a tendency to do that.

If you ever find yourself in northwestern Wyoming, think about checking out Kirwin. I have a feeling you won’t regret it. Things to keep in mind – it’s grizzly country, and you have to cross the Wood River several times. No Smart Cars, people.

Sources: The info I included in this post came from plaques at Kirwin, and from the Meeteetse, WY web page. The article on Kirwin can be read by clicking here.