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A Wyoming town looks beyond coal ... to new uses for coal « Back to Search Results

Coal has driven Wyoming’s economy for decades — the state sits on a rich abundance of coal reserves. But the world is slowly moving away from coal as other forms of energy have become cheaper and environmental concerns mount. Coal burns dirty and produces a lot of greenhouse gasses that fuel climate change.

Add it up and coal towns are at a crossroads.

The Wyoming city of Gillette, population 32,000, is surrounded by coal mines. The city is located in the Powder River Basin, an area of Montana and Wyoming known for its coal deposits.

“We're called the energy capital of the nation because we have been supplying the nation with energy, about 30 to 40 percent, [for] the last 30 years,” says Louise Carter-King, Gillette’s mayor.

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Fast Fact Image

Upton is located 70 miles east of thirteen open pit coal mines, including the Thunder Basin Coal Mine, the nation's largest. You can arrange to have guided tours to learn more about this critical industry in northeast Wyoming. Upton and Newcastle are on the railroad right-of-way that ships most of the coal to midwestern and eastern markets. There is an average of 75 Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad trains that pass through Weston County daily. This is a train watchers heaven!