- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 30, 2020

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - A new historical marker commemorates a community established by African-American homesteaders in southeast Wyoming.

The marker recognizing the former town of Empire in Goshen County can be found at the Dwyer Junction Rest Area on Interstate 25 north of Wheatland in Platte County.

The marker is a collaboration between the University of Nebraska’s Center for Great Plains Studies and Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails.

Empire dated to 1908. Founders Charles and Rosetta Speese used the Enlarged Homestead Act to claim 320 acres of public land. Other African-American families joined them, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported.

Empire’s population approached 60 within a few years but the community became a target of racially charged local disputes. The community broke into factions and farming difficulty caused the town to be largely abandoned by 1920.

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