Why does Riverton smell so sweet in Spring?

Spring in Riverton, WY is right around the corner!

It’s a favorite time of year for locals and travelers alike because hundreds of crabapple trees burst into bloom all over town. The town smells like something from a dream – you really do have to be here to experience it. 

But, where did they come from? Why are there so many? Local writer Steve Peck shared this fascinating story of why there are so many beautiful, fragrant crabapple trees in Riverton.

It’s the city’s official tree, and 2023 is the 60th anniversary of the lovely, lasting designation.

In May of that year, Mayor Willa Wales Corbett (still the only woman ever to hold that office in Riverton ), issued a proclamation declaring the flowering hopa crabapple the official tree of Riverton.

She urged residents of the city to plant the hopa crabapple in their yards — and the city would help. Special shipments of young hopas were made available for purchase at discount prices.

As many as 1,500 were planted in the first year or two after the city’s proclamation, which built upon the presence of a good number of the trees that already were in town. 

Riverton was booming in 1963, with the city’s population on the way to growing 40 percent in the 1960s, and many new houses were rising in places that had been treeless farmland a generation earlier. 

The crabapples added an immediate bit of landscaping and a beautiful one at that. The trees were placed in front yards and back yards, in empty lots, in parks, business properties, and on school grounds. Mountain View Cemetery placed dozens of them. a few years later, so did Central Wyoming College as its campus took shape. There were even a couple of hopa crabs at the airport.

It was an enthusiastic civic project that most landowners in Riverton got behind with vigor and a sense of camaraderie. 

That’s how so many flowering crabapples came to be planted in Riverton — in white and two shades of pink. Today, 60 years later, in early to mid-May, our eyes and, delightfully, our noses remind us why this was such a good idea.

If you need any convincing, just step outside and inhale.