Jeffrey City is a former uranium mining boomtown in central Wyoming. Back in the 70s, this windblown strip off the I-287 boasted over 800 mine workers and three bars, a bowling alley, motel and laundry. What remains today is a ghost town with a population of 58.


Byron lives in a decommissioned gas station off Highway 287. After years of studying pottery in Taos, NM, he moved to Jeffrey City to be close to his mother in Lander, WY. Since then he has gutted the interior and transformed the eroding concrete building into his dream work space, Monk King Bird Pottery. “It was supposed to be called Mockingbird Pottery,” he tells us, until the sign maker made a spelling mistake.


Jeffrey City is not for the faint of heart. Located halfway between Muddy Gap and Sweetwater Station on one of the loneliest highways in Wyoming, it is notorious for its debilitating winds and harsh, cold winters. Even during its boom days, residents of Jeffrey City lamented the lack of services and stark isolation of the region. Fatal mining accidents were not unheard of; drugs and alcohol were prevalent. After significant layoffs began in 1980, Jeffrey City continued further down a path of decay and obscurity.


The following set of images is an attempt to depict the complexity of a former boomtown seared by past memories of loss and abandonment, and inevitably, the soulful, resilient individuals that inhabit it. Furthermore, it is a dedication to Byron, a Jeffrey City fixture and dear friend.

jeffrey city, wyoming, monk king bird pottery, character, studio, ghost town, mad potter
jeffrey city, wyoming, monk king bird pottery, character, studio, ghost town, mad potter

Locals say that the owner of this lot covered the building in religious insignia and bible scriptures for tax purposes.

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jeffrey city, wyoming, monk king bird pottery, character, studio, ghost town, mad potter

George L. Holt's New Map of Wyoming, cir 1885. Fremont County, where Jeffrey City is located, housed a number of boomtowns as indicated by the numerous "OIL" markers.

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jeffrey city, wyoming, monk king bird pottery, character, studio, ghost town, mad potter

Byron's uncle's beat up VW bug, one of the many discarded vehicles on Byron's lot.

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jeffrey city, wyoming, monk king bird pottery, character, studio, ghost town, mad potter

Byron at work in his studio. Locals call him the "Mad Potter."

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jeffrey city, wyoming, monk king bird pottery, character, studio, ghost town, mad potter

The west end of Jeffrey City, as seen from Highway 287.

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Byron creating his trademark "shot pot," a vessel created by shooting a soft clay pot with a .22 and glazing it afterwards.

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jeffrey city, wyoming, monk king bird pottery, character, studio, ghost town, mad potter

A trailer that Byron reserves for guests and travelers.

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jeffrey city, wyoming, monk king bird pottery, character, studio, ghost town, mad potter

Byron and his duck-taped shoes.

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jeffrey city, wyoming, monk king bird pottery, character, studio, ghost town, mad potter
jeffrey city, wyoming, monk king bird pottery, character, studio, ghost town, mad potter

Chuck lives in a house that he built himself next to Byron's studio. He spends his days painting and helping maintain the lot.

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jeffrey city, wyoming, monk king bird pottery, character, studio, ghost town, mad potter
jeffrey city, wyoming, monk king bird pottery, character, studio, ghost town, mad potter

Byron playing pool at Split Rock Cafe, a local bar right across the street from his studio.

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jeffrey city, wyoming, monk king bird pottery, character, studio, ghost town, mad potter
jeffrey city, wyoming, monk king bird pottery, character, studio, ghost town, mad potter
jeffrey city, wyoming, monk king bird pottery, character, studio, ghost town, mad potter
jeffrey city, wyoming, monk king bird pottery, character, studio, ghost town, mad potter
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