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Lander was known as Pushroot, Fort Brown, and Fort Auger prior to its current name. The town was named Lander in honor of General Frederick W. Lander, a famous transcontinental explorer who surveyed the Oregon Trail’s Lander Cutoff. Several miles southeast of town near present-day U.S. Route 287 is the site of Wyoming’s first oil well, circa 1884. The town was incorporated in 1890.
On October 1, 1906, Lander became the westward terminus of the “Cowboy Line” of the Chicago and North Western Railway, thus originating the slogan “where rails end and trails begin.” Originally intended to be a transcontinental mainline to Coos Bay, Oregon, or Eureka, California, the line never went further west, and service to Lander was abandoned in 1972.
As of the census of 2010, there were 7,487 people, 3,161 households, and 1,932 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,603.2 inhabitants per square mile (619.0/km2). There were 3,385 housing units at an average density of 724.8 per square mile (279.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 88.0% White, 0.2% African American, 7.3% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 1.0% from other races, and 2.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.8% of the population.
There were 3,161 households of which 28.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.2% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 38.9% were non-families. 32.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 13% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.85.
The median age in the city was 40.3 years. 22.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.3% were from 25 to 44; 27.3% were from 45 to 64; and 17% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.0% male and 51.0% female.