In 1899, a group of Sheridan men became interested in establishing a new lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Sheridan Lodge #520 received a special dispensation through Omaha Lodge #39, and Billings Lodge #394 agreed to sponsor Lodge #520. Sherman 0. Canfield was appointed as Omaha’s special representative.
There were five names affixed to the special dispensation: George P. Cronk, Grand Exalted Ruler 1903; Charles E. Fanning; F.J. McShane, Sheridan’s third Exalted Ruler; Frank E. Feury; and Gould Dietz. All were members of Omaha Lodge #39.
Sheridan Lodge #520 was instituted in August, 1899 and held it’s first meeting November 15, 1899, with Exalted Ruler C.P. Story at the helm. There were 33 charter members. The Sheridan group was granted a Charter as Lodge # 520 on July 12, 1900. The Lodge became a corporate entity in the State of Wyoming on May 8, 1907, and joined the State Association in 1947 or 1948.
The new lodge conducted its business meetings in a second-story room above the D. & D. Hardware store on the corner of Main Street and Brundage, the location now occupied by the Brown Drug Store. As the lodge grew, plans were made to provide a new building. Construction was begun in 1909, and the new building was completed in 1910 at a cost of about $50,000, a princely sum in those days, and one which provided the Elks of Sheridan with one of the finest and most modern lodge homes in the entire west. Dedication ceremonies for the new building were held in June, 1910.
The Sheridan Elks Lodge is the oldest lodge of the B.P.O.E. in the State of Wyoming, and also the largest membership. Sheridan Lodge #520 now has a total membership of about 900.
The Lodge has a long history of trying to carry out it’s major project, that of giving away free clothing to selected, needy children. Two memorable moments had to be 1) the grand parade march by members and their wives through a decorated arch at the main entrance when the grand opening of the newly built Lodge building was held and 2) the burning of the mortgage after paying for the Lodge building. Sheridan had ritual champs in 1951 and 1960.
Sheridan also has the distinction of being one of the few Elks Lodges to own and maintain an Elks Memorial Cemetery, where Elks and their ladies, as well as minor children, are provided burial spaces with free perpetual care. This burial plot was begun in 1941 with a relatively small plot of ground. It has since been enlarged on several occasions and now entails about 30 acres of land on the southwest edge of the Sheridan City Cemetery, most of which is landscaped and maintained. A large bronze statue of a majestic bull elk dominates the central portion of the cemetery, and was donated to the Sheridan Elks Lodge by Count and Countess Frederick Thorne-Rider.