GILLETTE — Communities in northeast Wyoming weren’t built on the coal industry’s back, but they reside there now.
In all of Campbell County and much of Sheridan County, businesses rely on income driven by the black mineral.
Restaurants regularly seat large crowds of miners and mine service workers. Hotels serve as temporary housing for workers. Everyone from cosmetologists to construction workers regularly deal with mine employees, contract workers and their families. The industry’s influence is inescapable and yet immeasurable.
There would probably still be a Gillette without coal mines. And a Sheridan, and a Wright. But whether they’d exist in the same way is debatable, and even downturns hurt.
That’s why the industry’s future has the eye of so many in the northeast corner of the state, a hub for the coal industry both in Wyoming and nationally.