History and prehistory come alive in the town of Ranchester, the first stop off I interstate 90 on U.S. Highway 14.
While many people pass through the towns of Ranchester and Dayton on their way to Yellowstone National Park, they are worth a stop of their own. They invite people to slow down and enjoy a little small-town charm.
Ranchester is home to the Connor Battlefield State Historic Site, Tyrannosaurus Rex Museum, Rotary Park and beautiful mountain views.
Connor Battlefield State Historic Site was where the U.S. Army and the Arapahoe tribe met in the Battle of Tongue River, which ended in Connor’s troops being forced out of the area.
The battle is considered the most important engagement of the Powder River Expedition of 1865. It caused the Arapahoe to ally with the Sioux and Cheyenne tribes at the Fetterman Fight just a year later.
Town residents are planning a variety of events to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Connor Battle in 2015. A local diorama artist will complete a diorama to capture the battle and place it in the Ranchester Information Center for all to see.
The town park at the Connor Battlefield site also provides playground equipment for children and a monument in honor of the site.
For visitors and locals who want to go back a little further in time, the T-Rex Natural History Museum on U.S. Highway 14 offers a life-sized cast skull of the female Tyrannosaurus Rex known as Sue and also a cast of a Trecertops skull known as “Mikey” in honor of the museum’s owner, Mike Dawson.
The museum also features a collection of minerals and crystals, a model of an F-86 fighter jet next door to a scale dinosaur skeleton and a gift shop.
Rotary Park in Ranchester offers visitors a place to relax and enjoy paved walking trails, fishing and picnic facilities.
The town holds a festive Fourth of July celebration each year and also offers a small library, a modern diner called Eat Street and the soon-to-be built Ranchester Mercantile that will feature three businesses and an open-air farmers market.
Town of Ranchester
- 855 total residents
- Male: 432
- Female: 423
- Under 18: 278
- Largest age group: 50-64: 160