Established within the Department of the Treasury by Congress in April 1812, the General Land Office, through its Commissioner, was tasked with coordinating and administering all aspects of disposal of the public domain.
The work of the General Land Office extended to Wyoming Territory, with Dr. Silas Reed appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant as the first Surveyor General in 1870. That office, based in Cheyenne, saw 10 Surveyors-General administer more than 300 land survey contracts across Wyoming, and extended in service until 1925, when its local land offices in Evanston, Lander, Buffalo, Sundance, Newcastle, and Douglas were closed.
“During 55 years of General Land Office operations in Wyoming, the resulting survey and sale of public lands defined land ownership and use patterns that characterize the map of our state today” said Mike Abel, Director of the NHTIC. “We invite the public to visit the Trails Center and reflect on the story of the General Land Office as a predecessor of today’s Bureau of Land Management, and the interest we all have as individual citizens today in the future of our public lands.”
“As well, in this 10th Anniversary year of Trails Center operation, we commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Homestead Act, the Pacific Railway Act, and the Morrill Act, all passed by Congress in 1862 with profound effect on the development and quality of life in the American West in the present day.”
The exhibit, titled “Taking the Measure of the Land” includes copies of rare historic photographs and maps, and will be on display in the Edna Kennell Heritage Gallery through Saturday, October 13. For additional information please call the NHTIC at 307-261-7780.