What Was Table Rock, Wyoming? (original)

Table Rock Road coming up!On a lonely stretch of Interstate 80 in Southwestern Wyoming, the sign that marks Exit 150 reads, “Table Rock Road”. The surroundings there piqued the curiosity of travelers through the area for three decades. Centered in a seemingly desolate landscape on the south side of the highway was a barely noticeable community. Farther south, a piercing, white beacon flashed above a complex of towers and pipes, deceptively dwarfed by the immensity of the surrounding landscape. Nighttime travelers compared the view from the highway to a battleship somehow stranded in the desert.

Village driveway - thenThose that followed their curiosity, strayed off the highway and turned on to the road that led to the housing complex encountered privacy warnings. Ignoring those, braver adventurers found themselves on a simple paved oval, lined on both sides by well maintained, cookie-cutter houses with trimmed lawns and children at play. Here and there adults casually, but closely watched the intrusion. No one threatened. Many smiled. Those that stopped to ask were reminded that this was a private community, but answers to requests for directions or casual questions were amicably provided.

Table Rock house today

Photo:Christy Callendar

In recent years, the lights in those homes have died along with the lawns. Half of the community is gone and overgrown as if simply swept away by the Wyoming wind. The remaining homes have been heavily vandalized and show signs of squatters claiming these once-proud homes as their private shelters. The Red Desert is slowly reclaiming the roads, playgrounds and scattered piles of redwood from demolished decks. The privacy warnings are now reinforced with a locked gate and “No Trespassing” signs. This makes the site even more intriguing to some adventurers, who brave a trip over the barbed wire fence to tour this eerie “ghost town in-the-making”. A few have posted tasteful records of their tours. Some have been less tactful with their accounts. All have been left with a sense of wonder.

Soon, however, curiosity seekers will have nothing to seek here. What remains of Table Rock Village is scheduled to be leveled and left to the elements. The sand and sage of the Red Desert will eventually hide the traces of our community and only the memories will haunt this once-vital part of Wyoming history.

For many of us that called it home at some point in our lives, the slow but steady decay of our little oasis has been painful to witness. Its coming demise will leave an incomprehensible sense of loss for many. The people whose lives were touched by Table Rock life, however, remain and the spirit of the community lives on. So, for ourselves and for the curious, we leave our mark here. We invite you to learn why we were there, what we did, how we did it and how a tiny, insignificant speck of civilization in the middle of nowhere helped shape the people we are today. The links at the top of the page will get you started.

We were Table Rock. Table Rock was us.

About Dana

I spent 7 years at Table Rock with my wife, daughter and son. After transferring in from the Amarillo, Texas survey crew, I worked as a Plant Operator at Table Rock Processing Plant and later as a General Technician. Like most Table Rockers, life in Table Rock Village and working (and playing) in the Wyoming Red Desert had a great impact on the person I became. I now make my living as a freelance writer and I am working on a book about Table Rock and how it shaped the lives of the residents. I hope to share the stories of fellow Table Rockers as well as my own.
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  1. Summer Van Kam

    I read this and it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much…..Table Rock memories were some of the VERY BEST memories of my life! I will always cherish them and am so proud to have been part of that community……..THAT FAMILY! Hope everyone is doing great…..I am super excited about the reunion! MAY THE TABLE ROCK MEMORIES LIVE ON!

    • Stacey Hill Powell

      Love you!

    • Mary Robertson

      What a shock to read about this. We lived at Table Rock in 1978 while the power plant was being built. Ella May and Allen Byrnes ran the station/cafe at that time. Allen was killed by a trucker while he was repairing a truck on the side of the road. Ella May has since passed on. Such memories!!! We moved to Utah and then Nebraska from there and never travel that way any more.

  2. Stacey Hill Powell

    What a cool site! I loved my time in Table Rock. We had many many friends there and felt very safe and loved. I’m still friends with many people from those days even now. The funny thing about Table Rock is that anyone who is anyone in the oil and gas industry knows exactly where it is and what it’s purpose was. Oh, and they are dumbfounded that I actually lived there and LIKED it (except for having to get on the bus at such a horrendous hour in the morning to go to school in Wamsutter). Some of the best friends I’ve ever made were made there. RIP TRV!

  3. Jeremy Duty

    Wow just seeing the pics is terrible. I have not been there or have seen it for 20 years now. That is the place i got my first kiss, had alot of fun times there growing up.

  4. Stacy King

    Wow what a difference from the years I leaved there.

  5. Dwight

    More decades than just 3 travelers have been around there….. I still have a Ford Model Tee wheel bearing cap, found in desert 6 miles from any “now existing” road. Even now that my legs are giving out I love to truck around. Lincoln Highway, first interstate road….Hiway 1…. went through Table Rock , goggle that find some Americana…We were blessed with lots of past history and its accompanying ghosts… I love the Red Desert, nowhere else have I felt so alive.

  6. Ntsimp

    I have no connection to this place at all, but it caught my eye driving past last week. I had to look up more info. What a fascinating story! I added a little about Table Rock’s history to the Wikipedia article, and linked this blog from there. You’re providing a service to curious outsiders like me, as well as to the former Villagers.

    • Dana

      Thank you for the feedback on the site. It’s good to know that it may be of use to curious travelers as well as past residents. The village will soon be gone, but we’re hoping that this site will help keep its legacy alive.

  7. Dan Kotar

    Just to let you kknow that they are now destroying the village. I went by 8/27/11 and they were in the process of total destruction. Sad it has to end that way.

  8. Amanda

    Though I am not from Table Rock, I lived in Wamsutter Wyoming for 3 years. I drove past this beautiful place once a week. I never did make it past the no trust-passing signs, but I am kicking myself everyday for not continuing up Madison Dr. I have been doing a ton of research on your amazing little village. I could only imagine the crazy stories you all have to share. Crazy cold winters, to insanely hot summer nights, I would love to hear more about this place. I have been looking around for photos of the village right before they destroyed this amazing piece of AMERICAN HISTORY! My sister (an inspiring photographer) ventured passed the warning signs and mentioned a school type building, she said when she was standing in the “gym” she could feel the spirits of the villages around her, but they weren’t happy. She felt unwanted and ended up leaving before she could capture any photos. Bummer for me. Hopefully I hear some amazing stories at the place all of you call HOME.

    • Dana

      Hi Amanda, and thanks for sharing your thoughts. Many of our friends and co-workers lived in Wamsutter and some still do. Wamsutter CIGers had good times at the village, too. There are lots more photos and stories to be posted here, and with a little bit of luck the book will be completed soon. A friend has shared some photos from inside the fence and her feelings while visiting on her blog here, and it sounds as if they were similar to your sister’s. Unfortunately, the atmosphere there hasn’t been a pleasant one since it was abandoned. For those of us who remember it fondly, there is a sort of sad sense of relief in seeing it demolished. Closure of a sort, I suppose…

      • Amanda

        I am so glade to get a response from you.. A book? I cant wait.. Who is the author do you know? I have looked at her work in the past when I was in search of what table rock really was. I love it. I just cant believe she didn’t get any photos of the school, or go into any buildings like on her other adventures. When I was like 16, was the only time I took exit 150. I turned as if i was going into the town and seen the no trust-passing signs I got all freaked out and had to turn right around. I remember thinking,, Man its the next Area 51 under the small town as a cover. Who owned the village from desertion to demolition? Did anyone watch the place? Where there really squatters? Did no police venture past the signs? I know I am asking 20 questions sorry.. I am just so in ahh of the place and am so angry i never just went in.
        Thank you for your help and time,

        • Dana

          Hi again, Amanda.

          No need to apologize for the questions. Table Rock made a lot of people curious. You can find the answers to most of your questions about the Village here on this site. Just browse through the links at the top of the page.

          I think Anadarko Petroluem owned the Village when it was officially closed and still does. The land itself belongs to the Wyoming BLM and when the fences are gone it will probably be public land again.

          I know the author of the upcoming book fairly well; he’s me. I won’t be doing it all alone, though; there are lots of us with stories to be told and I hope to gather a lot of those stories.

          I’m glad to see you joined the Facebook group. You can probably get answers to any other questions you have there, since there are more than 160 members and most of them spent some time at the Village, if not part of their lives.

          There will be more pictures and stories posted here, too, so keep dropping by!

          • Amanda

            You can bet I will be stopping in. I found out that Table Rock was demolished after planning a trip back to Wamsutter with a friend of mine. We think we are going to be ghost town hunters ha ha just kidding.

            Table Rock is the Village that made me love history, the past. Just from the few stories i have read I could feel the family with in village. I mean some of you have not talked in years. Yet on facebook you act as if your right back there together. I just wish I could have stayed that way for other generations to experience.

            I can not wait to read the book that’s being created. I think that is so amazing that everyone is working together!

            The facebook page is awesome. I looked and read the stories for hours! Thank you all for letting me experience a a whole new outlook on life really.

  9. Casey Henson

    When my family moved from Table Rock in the summer of 1990, I had always kept a special hope and confidence that I would someday return. Because that community, that geologic spot on the map, was instilled in me from the earliest time I can remember. It was like; no matter where I would ever wander in life, I could always count on Table Rock being “home.”
    We did, in fact move back to the village in 1996. It almost seemed like we had never left. I remember riding in our loaded up oldsmobile with my dog, Gizmo on my lap as my mother slowly trudged through a blizzard on the long dark stretch of I-80. With white knuckles, a full thermos off black coffee, and alot of cigarettes, she managed to get us “home” safely.
    It was a different experience since we had all grown a little older. A few of the same friendly faces, I remembered before I left, were still there to welcome me back. As well as new friends and bonds which I would keep and carry with me to this day. But Table Rock was still the same. “The old stomping grounds,” as they say. It’s amazing how I can still recall every aspect of Table Rock through all of my senses… the bitter chill of the seemingly constant wind…. the smell of sage brush in the air after it had rained… the lights of the gas plant flashing in the distance… and the hum of eighteen wheelers barreling down the interstate. As for my sense of taste, I’ll have to go with mom’s home cooking. I’ll always have memories of every place I have lived but the ones I have of Table Rock are the ones most dear to my heart. Among many things, I consider TRV to be the birthplace of my “delusions of grandeur.” The breeding ground for my rock and roll dreams and the backdrop for the cinematic atrocities my friends and I would make out of sheer boredom. As children, our imaginations were endless but as teenagers, we had to be REALLY CREATIVE. Otherwise, we would all just go crazy! Being the only self proclaimed punk rockers in the village, we were never quite understood and we were ok with that. I’m sure to many of the adults, we were always up to no good. Truth is, we were just searching for ourselves inside a circle in the desert. Not your typical way of growing up. I could seriously go on and on but I wont. I do think the book is a great idea and I’ve spoke with friends about possibly making a documentary. That place was just one of a kind! It deserves to be immortalized in any way and in many ways. Thank you for starting this website.

  10. Dana

    Thanks for sharing, Casey. I remember your family well.

    A documentary could be a lot of fun. Maybe we can swap some stories as they develop.


    I worked here during constrution with the Boilermakers setting the large towers still have some pics of plant at that time ,no one I know any more has ever heard of sour gas plant if I brought it up, like big secret, thanks Bill

  12. Scott Armstrong

    I Scott Armstrong work at Table Rock for CIG/Colorado Interstate Gas for a brief time from 1989 to 1991. I moved on do to child custody battles at the time. I recently have been researching Crook County Wy where my grandparents are from and come across this info on Table Rock. Sorry to see this happen with the community and employment.

    • Dana

      Hi Scott,
      Thanks for the comment, and my apologies for the late reply. We’re all saddened by the demise of the village and plant, but the spirit lives on in the people that lived and worked there. If you’d like to reconnect with anyone, I’d recommend joining the Table Rock/Wamsutter Memories group on Facebook. Here’s a link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/218552828848/

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