The community of Centennial is located in the southeast corner of the state of Wyoming, 27 miles west of Laramie, Wyoming on scenic byway Highway 130. It is nestled in Centennial Valley with Sheep Mountain to the east, Centennial Ridge and the Medicine Bow Forest to the west.
Centennial is at an altitude of 8076 ft, and has the possibility of snow year round. It has the following weather profile:
Early Plains Indians passed through what is now Centennial Valley looking for wood to make teepee poles and bows. They were followed by tie-hacks, miners, and ranchers. Congress passed two acts in 1862 which had strong impacts on the valley. One was the Pacific Railways Act that led to the construction of the transcontinental railroad; the other was the Homestead Act.
A railroad tie camp was established in the mountains near Centennial Valley in 1868, but the workers were driven off by an Indian raid in 1869. The following year, the first homestead was staked out in the valley. During the next decade, most of the land was claimed by homesteaders.
Gold was discovered in 1875. The new town of Centennial and the Centennial mine were named the next year in honor of our nation's 100th birthday. During its first year of operation the mine produced a wealth of gold, but it was soon depleted. Many other mining operations were attempted during the next few decades, including a silver boom in the 1890's; but these were of no avail. The ranchers and loggers continued to do business. These activities probably kept Centennial from becoming a ghost town like so many other mining communities in the Rockies.
The promise of more mining continued to attract attention. In the early 20th century, the Van Horn-Miller Company began a railroad from Laramie to Centennial. This brought new life into the community. While the railroad was being built, Centennial grew into an active community with a newspaper, bank, hotel, fish hatchery, store, and two saloons. When the railroad reached Centennial in 1908, the prospect of gold had diminished so drastically that the tracks were turned south to transport coal, lumber, and cattle from Walden, Colorado.
There was promise again of great mining wealth in the twenties because of a platinum strike on Centennial Ridge, but this too was short lived.
Today Centennial is known more for its majestic mountain beauty than for its mining potential. It is a popular place in summer for hiking, fishing, camping and photography. In the fall it is known for hunting; and in the winter for skiing and snowmobiling.
Centennial has boasted a library since the 1920's. In 1979 Pat Self, owner of the Old Corral restaurant, graciously provided the community his The Goodie Shoppe, a small building next to the Old Corral, to use as a library. The grand opening was held August 20, 1979 and was attended by author James Michener (pictured right).
The Centennial library won the Andy Fisher Award of the Wyoming Library Association in 1984 for renovations in 1982-83, including adding heaters, electrical outlets, oak furnishings, and carpet.
At the time the library was heated by a wood burning stove. The Lions Club provided cut wood, and students and teachers sometimes helped move snow from the wood pile. If the library didn't get to 50 degrees by noon, it would close for the rest of the day.
In 1993 the Old Corral had new owners, and it was decided it was time for the library to have its own building. The Centennial Library and Cultural Association (CLCA) was formed to finance, construct, and maintain a building to house the library.
The new library was constructed in 1993 with the help of community volunteers. The Grand opening was held July 30, 1994.
The library is a branch of the Albany County Public Library. Albany County provides a librarian, books, subscriptions, audio books, cataloging, reference material, interlibrary loan, training, Internet access, and participation in the state's library database. The CLCA provides and maintains the building. Trained community volunteers staff the library Monday through Friday, 11 AM - 3PM, year round and Saturdays, 11 AM - 3 PM, Memorial Day through Labor Day.