The 67 Circle Ranch dates back to before Wyoming’s statehood, during territorial times. Ranch owner Edward Swan first traveled through the Green River Valley in 1863, returning fifteen years later to leave an indelible mark as a cattleman with his travel companion Otto Leifer. Swan and Leifer would become the first settlers to permanently homestead in Sublette County, attracted to the abundance of fresh water, pasture lands, protective topography, and wildlife in the region. Swan and Leifer constructed cabins on the homestead by 1880 and moved their wives and children out West to join them.
Swan and Leifer’s homestead neighbors Daniel Burr Budd and Hugh McKay settled on the land in 1879. Budd would leave to found the town of Big Piney, Wyoming, selling his stake in the operations to his partner McKay. Growth continued for the Swan and Leifer ranching operations until 1889 when a vicious winter storm swept through the Green River Valley decimating more than half of their existing livestock. In the wake of the storm, Swan, Leifer, and many cattlemen in the valley turned to hay farming to produce stores for future harsh winters. In 1895, the Leifer’s sold their ranch to James Mickelson. At the time of Mickelson’s death in 1921, the ranch was the largest in the state with 20,000 acres of land and 6,000 head of cattle.
The ranch then changed hands from Mickelson’s wife, to their children, and was later acquired by Bob and Mildred Miller. The Millers and their successors established the Miller Land & Livestock Company which is the contemporary holder and Grantor of the land once occupied by Swan, Leifer, Budd and McKay. The same land is now protected by a conservation easement held under the Green River Valley Program of the Jackson Hole Land Trust. As is the case for much of Sublette County, the land’s rich history gives us an even greater motive to practice land protection and steward our existing easements in Northwest Wyoming for future generations.