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The town was named after Michigan-born Henry Clay Lovell. Mr. Lovell and Anthony L. Mason of Kansas City, Missouri, brought the cattle industry to the Big Horn Basin in 1880. At one time, the ML Ranch herd numbered as many as 25,000 cattle. Mason died in 1892, but Lovell continued to ranch until his death in 1903.

Beginning in 1900, the area was being settled by Mormons, led by Apostle Abraham O. Woodruff. In 1902, the townsite began to grow and was officially incorporated in 1906. German farmers, attracted to the area by positive growing conditions, added to growth of the community in the early years. The sugar industry was established and provided additional jobs and stability to the area. 

Dr. William Watts Horsley moved to Lovell in the 1920s and was largely responsible for Lovell becoming the Rose City of Wyoming. Horsley, a foremost authority in the United States on roses, discovered the climate in Lovell exceptional for growing roses and he began to create colorful rose gardens. Dozens of local residents have rose gardens and the town itself has continued to cultivate a wide range of beautiful, blooming beauties for all to enjoy.