The town of Cowley was settled by a group of Mormon pioneers called to settle Wyoming's Big Horn Basin. The town was named in honor of Matthias F. Cowley, one of the Apostles of the LDS Church at the time. The first company of pioneers arrived in the area on May 2, 1900, and began the construction of the Sidon Canal to bring water to the town from the Shoshone River. The canal was over 30 miles long and was not completed until 1904.
By winter 1900, there were approximately 18 log houses built in the area. Those original homes were built by Robert Baird, John Black, John Burke, Hyrum Cook, John Dickson, Robert Fraser, William Graham, David Lewis, Gilbert Marchant, Alfred Nebeker, William Partridge, William Simmons, George Taggart, Henry Tucker, Franklin Turnbow, Lemuel Willis, W. W. Willis and George Harston.
The first school was opened in a log house in January 1901, and the first teacher was Eliza R. Black. There were about 24-30 students.
On September 26, 1910, the Big Horn Academy was opened in Cowley, as the first High School. The first class to graduate from the Big Horn Academy was the class of 1912, consisting of 13 students. The first four-year graduating class was in 1915.
A new stone building was erected to house the Big Horn Academy in 1916. In 1925, the name was changed to the Cowley High School. The school's mascot was the Jaguars. The Cowley High School remained in the Big Horn Academy building until 1983, when the last class was graduated. There were only six students in the class of 1983, John Barnes, Ernesto Campos (a visiting student from Mexico), Gilbert Fisher, Greg Marchant, Randy Marchant and Bart Stevens. Due to the declining enrollment, the school in Cowley was closed.
Beginning in 1984, the town's students began attending the consolidated Rocky Mountain High School in Byron, Wyoming, with students from Byron, Deaver and Frannie. Rocky Mountain High School was moved to Cowley beginning in the fall of 2010, after a new High School was built in Cowley.
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