manville, wy

Manville is located at the junction of Highways 20 and 270 — 9 miles west of Lusk, Wyoming.

H. S. Manville of Milwaukee, Wis. migrated to the Territory of Wyoming in 1879. He became partners with James Peck in a cattle ranch seven miles west of the Hat Creek Stage Station. In 1880 Manville was named manager for the Converse Cattle Company. He hired Addison A. Spaugh as ranch foreman.

When the railroad came in 1886, a new town was born. Addison Spaugh was asked to name the town and he named it after his good friend and business associate.

Hiram S. Manville was also influential in the early development of the community. Manville passed away at Oakdale, Nebr. on December 14, 1911.

Oscar Selden filed the original town plat in October 1886. He paid to have the land surveyed and platted by Henry Chase. Selden purchased this land, subdivided the site into lots, streets and alleys and offered the lots for sale. He would give anyone a lot if they would build a house of value on it. He was killed by a shot fired through the window of his home. The killer was never apprehended.

Almost all of the original houses in Manville were of rock and some of those landmarks are still standing.

Manville has been situated in Laramie County, Converse Co. and Niobrara County. The first mayor was J. F. Christensen. At the height of Manville’s prosperity, the population grew to 1500 people. Oil had been discovered at Lance Creek and several oil companies had their headquarters in Manville as well as their warehouses. The town boasted two lumberyards, a realty office, insurance business, two banks, post office, variety store, telephone office, four hotels, elevator, hardware store, bakery, furniture store, mercantile, meat company, candy store, a shop that did general repairing, plumbing and tinning, several barber shops, numerous saloons, several cafes, a town hall, three newspapers, physician, surgeon, drug store, attorney at law, two garages, billiard hall, dance hall, theatre, baseball diamond, Masonic Lodge, Eastern Star, Royal Neighbors Lodge, grade and high schools and at one time there were about 100 pupils in the grade school. Later the schools were closed and the pupils were bused to Lusk. There was also a cheese factory, livery barn, sawmill, blacksmith shop, dentist, jewelry store and watch repair shop.

Manville’s first post office was allotted in 1887 with John A. Shaeffer as postmaster.

Early day volunteer firemen were summoned by the tolling of a bell hung on Main Street. A hand-drawn cart carried limited equipment and courageous fire fighters did their best to control the blazes.

Part of the J. A. Manorgan homestead became the Bell View Cemetery. In it rest many of the early day pioneers.

When the Lance Creek Oil boom came to an end, Manville began to dwindle. There is still a post office, Community Church, mayor and town council and a population of 94 people.

In the late eighteen hundreds a tornado ripped thru Manville wrecking many buildings. Shaeffer’s hall and opera house were completely destroyed and the post office and Manorgan & Company’s general store were badly damaged.*


From “Niobrara Historical Brevity” published by the

Niobrara Historical Society, in observance of the Lusk Centennial 1886-1986


  1. This is beyond beautiful. The images combined with the town history are perfect. I’ve always had a fascination with small towns like this.

    1. Thank you for visiting and leaving a positive comment. I, too, find myself drawn to towns within rural settings…buildings seem to express feeling states, especially those that are abandoned

  2. I loved your black and white photos of the town. They have a really meditative quality.

    1. Thank you Suzanne … the fading of rural America invites me to revisit the memories of freedom I have of my own childhood in Colorado

  3. I remember well being in several of the buildings you posted: the garage and the grocery store. My dad, his father, and brothers built a two-story home in Manville during the early 20’s that is still occupied. He was actually Mayor during the 80’s although he lived in Cheyenne. At age 4-5 I helped him wire several Manville homes in the 50’s when the REA (Rural Electrification Administration) came into being: small hands and arms are perfect for reaching into wall outlet cutouts to fish for wires. When the wiring was completed near dark, the “old owners” would unfailingly run from one light switch to another exclaiming “Honey look at that!” as they would flip the switches.

    My parents actually met in Manville where my mother-to-be was a high school teacher. In the 50’s it was apparent to me as a child that something had happened to Manville because there were several enormous basement foundations decaying along Main Street. Dad once said that steel for a multi-story building in Manville was dismantled and taken to Lusk to frame the Ranger Hotel (the large building on the SW corner at the stop light downtown). Grandma was Manville’s postmaster for many years. Manville still has famously good water.

    I could tell many more stories but will end by saying that my Grandpa and Grandma are buried in the Manville cemetery as is my Aunt Emma. Grandpa was one of the world’s very few checkers masters (They memorize every possible game). My father and brothers, whom I could never beat, never beat Grandpa.

Comments are closed.