Annual Festivals: Lilac Days

The Town of Basin was founded in 1896 by Winfield Collins and named for the Bighorn Basin. In 1897, it became the county seat, following a raging fight for that designation between Otto, Basin and Cody. Basin was known as Basin City until it was incorporated in 1902 and City was dropped from the name. Basin’s struggle for civilization created a rich history if tumultuous events, including the famous “Raid on the Jail” in 1903. Apparently, the cases of 2 men accused of murder were being held in the Basin Jail were not being prosecuted to the satisfaction of a lawless segment of town’s people A mob formed one night in July of 1903, broke into the jail and shot the two men as well as a guard.

Much changed over the next few years as is referenced by an article appearing in the 1909 Denver Post; “The Town of Basin is an anomaly in the otherwise wild setting if Big Horn County. It has a population of about 1,000 and in no place in the west, and in few places in the east of its size, are seen so many evidences of civic development. The Town has splendid water and sewage systems, municipally owned, a telephone system, a natural gas plant which furnishes heat and light and an electric lighting system will be acquired soon.”

In 1903 two Civil War cannons, mounted on caissons, were placed by the front entry of the Big Horn County Library. The cannons, furnished to Battery B of the National Guardfor drill and training purposes became the source of controversy in 1922 when the government ordered them destroyed, but an active group of Civil War veterans successfully fought to have them preserved as a memorial to the Civil War.

Basin is often called the “Lilac City of the World.” The Town hosts an annual Lilac Days Celebration in June and is the host for the Big Horn County Fair each August.

Modern day recreation opportunities can be found all around Basin. Located on the Big Horn River and at the base of the Big Horn Mountains, Basin boasts access to fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, mountain biking and many other outdoor activities.

Population: 1,238
Elevation: 3380
Region: Northwest

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