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Town Of Etna

Town of Etna History
By Bonnie Nebeker
In 1879, the first log cabin was built where the G.W. McNeel ranch and the Salt River join. The cabin was built by men who were cutting ties and floating them down the river.
Later that year, George Heap, an early trapper, built his cabin on the east side of Salt River, near the place where Etna is now located.
Hadden, Loveland, Hansley, Ross and Woolsey were early settlers who settled on Birch Creek. During the first summer they were there, they cut hay, bunched it, and stuck a stick in the top of each bunch so that when the snow fell they would be able to find the hay. There was only one fault with this - when winter came the snow was so deep they couldn't find the sticks, let alone the hay.
Thomas W. Lee, known as "Tot" Lee, was credited with being the first school teacher to teach in a crude log school house about 1888.
In 1906, Rudolph E. Wolfley and his wife, Eliza N. gave the settlers a ten acre block of sagebrush covered land on which the Etna Church building was later located and the old school built.
The first little store was located in Mrs. Rudolph Wolfley's home in 1903 and stocked with just the barest necessities.
About 1907, the first post office was established with Eugene Weber as the first postmaster. Sylvia Stone Herric was the first mail carrier and carried the mail on horseback most of the time.
Preceded by the Baker Canal, the first irrigation project in Star Valley about 1906, and the McNeel Ditch, the East Side Canal Company completed a 20 mile canal drawing water from the Salt River in 1909.

For more information on the town of Etna and the rest of Star Valley, WY please go to the Star Valley Historical Society at


Star Valley Chamber of Commerce
150 S. Washington
Afton, WY 83110
307-885-2759 | 800-426-8833 | fax 307-885-2758
Melanie S. Wilkes, President/CEO
Mailing Address
P.O.Box 190
Afton, WY 83110