Swiss American Historical Society Review

Swiss American Historical Society Review


Church, Settlement, Residents, Farming


Star Valley is a small community on the western side of Wyoming,

today consisting of the towns Alpine, Afton, Thayne, and others.

The area, sometimes known as “Little Switzerland,” is a thriving

community with a newfound focus on tourism and other businesses

and services. Star Valley was originally settled by pioneers from the

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 1870s. At the time

the area was considered the frontier of settlement in the American

West, in which, according to one current Star Valley resident, “people

were just trying to eke out a living.” With harsh winters and snow so

deep that it completely covered fences and signposts, survival was difficult.

Star Valley was sometimes known in those early times as “Starve

Valley,” and residents would often have to snowshoe for miles to bring

their families flour from the railhead. Residents tended to be farmers

with large families who relied on their own farming and cattle for food

and sustenance. This resulted in a large number of farmers becoming

involved in dairy farming, which would become even more significant

in later years.