Cowley Info

The Explorers, front row (L to R): George H. Taggart, Byron Sessions, Abraham O. Woodruff, William B. Graham, Brigham L. Tippets, Sr., and S. P. Sorensen. Back row: Charles A. Welch, Hyrum K. North, John Stevens, William G. Simmons, and John J. Simmons. John Croft and W. P. Larson were in the party, but are not pictured in this photo.

Cowley History

The town of Cowley was settled by a group of Mormon pioneers called to settle Wyoming's Big Horn Basin. The town was named in honor of Matthias F. Cowley their founder, one of the Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the time. In February 1900, a group of explorers were sent by the Church, to find a suitable location for a colony in Northern Wyoming. The group (pictured above) met with William F. Cody, who had a permit from the state of Wyoming to build an irrigation canal. The first company of pioneers arrived in the area on May 2, 1900, and began the construction of the Sidon Canal to bring water to the town from the Shoshone River. The canal was over 30 miles long and was not completed until 1904.

By winter 1900, there were approximately 18 log houses built in the area. Those original homes were built by Robert Baird, John Black, John Burke, Hyrum Cook, John Dickson, Robert Fraser, William Graham, David Lewis, Gilbert Marchant, Alfred Nebeker, William Partridge, William Simmons, George Taggart, Henry Tucker, Franklin Turnbow, Lemuel Willis, W. W. Willis and George Harston.

The first school was opened in a log house in January 1901, and the first teacher was Eliza R. Black. There were about 24-30 students.

On September 26, 1910, the Big Horn Academy was opened in Cowley, as the first High School. The first class to graduate from the Big Horn Academy was the class of 1912, consisting of 13 students. The first four-year graduating class was in 1915.

Construction of the Big Horn Academy Building in Cowley, Wyoming. Just right of the Big Horn Academy Building, is the old Relief Society Building, and to the right of that, barely visible, is the old white Church.

A new stone building was erected to house the Big Horn Academy in 1916 (pictured above). In 1925, the name was changed to the Cowley High School. The school's mascot was the Jaguars. The Cowley High School remained in the Big Horn Academy building until 1983. Due to the declining enrollment, the school in Cowley was closed in 1983.

Beginning in 1984, the town's students began attending the consolidated Rocky Mountain High School in Byron, Wyoming, with students from Byron, Deaver and Frannie. For the 2010-2011 school year, the Rocky Mountain High School was moved to Cowley, with the completion of a new high school in Cowley.

(Information for the History section was taken primarily from With Book And Plow, by Mark N. Partridge, published 2003 by Family History Publishers, Bountiful, Utah, Copyright Cowley Pioneer Museum History Center.)
Visitors since May 1, 2013.

Matthias F. Cowley
, (1858-1940). Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from 1897 to 1905. The town of Cowley, Wyoming was named for Matthias F. Cowley. 

Cowley's log gym, constructed in 1935, is one of the town's icons. The building has hosted many basketball and other sporting contests, as well as serving as a community gathering place over the years. Pictured above, Cowley townsfolk gather for a banquet in 1940.


Cowley has a strong sports tradition. Pictured above is Cowley's 1922 Wyoming State Championship Basketball Team, from the Big Horn Academy.

The original Cowley Elementary School, pictured above, was built in 1910, and was the home of the Big Horn Academy from 1910, until the Big Horn Academy Building was completed in 1919. The building was used as the elementary school in Cowley until it was torn down and replaced by a new building. 
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