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The Mandel Cabin and Post Office

Open for self-guided tours from spring through fall

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If these logs could only talk...

      If these logs could only talk... what stories they could tell! Two years after the Battle of the Little Bighorn, settlers began moving into the Goose Creek valley in what was soon to become Johnson County, Wyoming Territory (Sheridan County was later carved out of Johnson County). 

      George Mandel, a European immigrant whose brother had been the first to settle in the Laramie Valley, ventured north to the Sheridan area and filed a desert claim.   Moving into an abandoned trapper's cabin (the 'Dutch Henry' cabin), he began harvesting logs from the nearby mountains using a borrowed team of oxen from Big Horn City. Soon a well-built cabin was constructed and Mandel wisely took advantage of his location along a stage route to establish a post office, which he named Mandel, Wyoming. The year was 1881.  

     Bothered by a steady influx of settlers, Mandel soon gave up his cabin and returned to Laramie to live out his days ranching with his brother.  Mandel left his cabin in the hands of Dr. Lloyd Rhodes, a nearby acquaintance and son in law of J. M. Works who lived further up Big Goose.  Rhodes became the second postmaster of Mandel, and for one year he attempted to make a living as a doctor until it became evident that there was little need.  In 1882 he sold the cabin and its meager contents to John D. Loucks for $50, making Loucks Mandel's third postmaster. 

     Mr. Loucks' first order of business was to add a store to the post office so he could sell goods. Next, he sent for his wife and children in Miles City, Montana, and to accommodate them, he moved the abandoned Dutch Henry cabin next to the Mandel Cabin and connected them by a breezeway.  Finally, he renamed the post office after his commanding officer in the Civil War, General Philip H. Sheridan. 

     During the next year, the two cabins would serve as the 'community center'- the first post office, store, school, polling place and the site of the first church service.

      Realizing the area's potential, Loucks began to draw up plans for a townsite with the help of surveyor Jack Dow. Loucks' dream soon became a reality and the town of Sheridan was officially platted, under the skeptical gaze of some onlooking cowboys.  Loucks then deconstructed the Mandel Cabin, moved its pine logs to the new town's main street, and reconstructed it, enlarging the post office and store and adding a second story for living quarters, a law office and a reading room.

        As the town grew, Loucks built a separate home for his family and sold the post office/store to Edward A. Whitney who, in 1885, would establish Sheridan's first bank in the building.  Mr. Whitney lived in the second story until the time of his death in 1917.

     Over the next years the building resided in several locations and deteriorated with each move.  But miraculously the original logs from 1880 survived.  The structure was eventually given to The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Wyoming who hired Duane Harvey to restore the cabin to a somewhat smaller version of the original cabin using the original hand hewn logs and sawed lumber from the early extension.  Today, the cabin stands permanently just a stone's throw away from where it was originally built.

"I was given the possibilities to be opened up in and around these beautiful valleys in their virgin purities and richness which seemed to say 'on this spot build your city: these valleys will support it, and here will be beautiful homes and schools and churches'...it was twilight and the new moon hung low in the west over the snow-clad mountains. While I wended my way down to the cabin that stood at the junction where Big and Little Goose met, and before preparing my evening meal, I took out a sheet of brown wrapping paper, laid off 40 acres of land, divided it into blocks and streets, and printed at the top 'Sheridan'...it was in this log house, with its dirt roof, that the first post office and the first store opened."

      -John D. Loucks, Sheridan's founder-1882


 

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The Mandel Cabin and Post Office is a member of The NSCDA's Great American Treasures which is a collection of more than 60 sites across the country, both BIG and small, that tell the story of how AMERICA became AMERICA.

The cabin sits on land generously donated by Whitney Benefits.

Activities

      Each spring, NSCDA-WY invites third graders from all over Sheridan County  to explore the cabin during their study of county history, showing them a short video which places the cabin in its historic timeframe and encouraging them to imagine life in earlier days.  The award winning curriculum and the nearby Whitney Commons park are popular field trip destinations.

       The Mandel Cabin is also included in the Sheridan Community Land Trust's Big Goose Creek Walking Tour and is listed with the Travelstory app.

        By request, the cabin can also be opened for private occasions.

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Contact Us

Tel: 307-737-2261                       lburgess@nscdawy.org  

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