Aladdin is a former coal mining settlement in Crook County, today a tiny roadside stop in the Black Hills of northeastern Wyoming, just a short drive from Devils Tower National Monument. Census records indicate a peak population of 200 people during its coal mining heydey, but today, only 15 residents reportedly remain. The centerpiece of Aladdin is the 118-year old General Store which does a brisk business serving travelers on the road between Devils Tower and Belle Fourche, South Dakota.
In July of 2014, the owners of Aladdin put the town up for sale. A sign on the door of the store reads, “This town is for sale. Store, house, bar, trailer park, post office, 30 acres, $1,500,000 firm.” There have been several interested buyers, but so far, no takers.
Any potential buyer with plans to operate the General Store would have to make a strong commitment of both dollars and labor. There is no running water at all in the store (travelers use outhouses when necessary), heat is provided by a wood burning stove, and running the town is a full-time job, seven days per week.
The inside of the store is absolutely packed with antiques and souvenirs. We spent a good twenty minutes inside shopping and imagining what it was like in the 1800s.
Just down the road from Aladdin is a former coal tipple, now a state historic site.
During its operational days, this tipple facilitated the coal mine at the top of the slope. A mine car would carry ore to the top of this structure and “tip,” dropping a load of coal down the chute into a waiting Wyoming and Missouri Valley railroad car at the bottom.
If you enjoy abandoned places and the high plains, check out our book, Churches of the High Plains.
There is a quite nice, paved walking path that leads from the bottom of the tipple to the actual mine entrance at the top, and you will be treated to an amazing view if you make the short, uphill hike.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media LLC