Information

Wyoming


Wyoming became the 44th state to join the union in 1890. state to allow women to vote–an achievement that represented oneof the early victoriesof the Americanwomen’s suffrage movement. Today, although it is the 10th largest state by area, Wyoming has the smallest population of all the states, with just over 550,000 residents.The state is home to most of Yellowstone National Park, one of the most popular national parks in the country. Millions of touristsvisit Wyomingevery year to seethe geyser Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in the country, as well as a variety of wildlife including moose, elk, bighorn sheep, wolves, coyotes, eagles, black bears and grizzly bears.

Date of Statehood: July 10, 1890

Capital: Cheyenne

Population: 563,626 (2010)

Size: 97,812 square miles

Nickname(s): Big Wyoming; Equality State; Cowboy State

Motto: Equal Rights

Tree: Plains Cottonwood

Flower: Indian Paintbrush

Bird: Meadowlark

Interesting Facts

  • On September 2, 1885, a group of white coal miners attacked and killed 28 of their Chinese coworkers, wounded 15 others, and torched 79 of their homes in Rock Springs. None of the perpetrators—who had been angered by the refusal of Chinese miners to join in a strike for better wages, and by the Union Pacific Coal Company’s decision to allow the Chinese to work a lucrative part of the mine—were ever convicted for the brutal massacre.
  • Henry Longabaugh received the nickname “Sundance Kid” after serving time in prison between 1887 and 1889 for stealing a horse in Sundance, Wyoming. He later met Butch Cassidy and joined the notorious Wild Bunch.
  • President Theodore Roosevelt designated Devils Tower—a natural rock formation resulting from a volcanic intrusion and a sacred site for many Plains Indians—the first national monument in the U.S. on September 24, 1906.
  • In 1949, a massive blizzard blanketed Wyoming, killing 17 people, 55,000 cattle and 105,000 sheep.
  • Wyoming is the leading producer of coal in the United States; in 2010, the state produced 40 percent of the nation’s total.

PHOTO GALLERIES












Wyoming

People lived on the wide open plains of what’s now Wyoming at least 12,000 years ago. Signs of these long-ago inhabitants include an ancient 245-foot stone shrine that was built near Lovell, Wyoming, and possibly used for important ceremonies. Thousands of years later Native American tribes including the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Crow, Shoshone, and Ute lived on the land.

Some historian think the first European to arrive was explorer François Louis Verendrye in 1742. In 1868 Wyoming became a U.S. territory, though the U.S. cavalry (the U.S. Army service members who fought on horses) and Native Americans continued to battle for control of the land. In 1890 Wyoming became the 44th state. Shoshone National Forest was set aside in northwest Wyoming in 1891 as part of the Yellowstone Timberland Reserve. It is the country’s first national forest.

Members of the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes still live in Wyoming today.

WHY’S IT CALLED THAT?

Experts aren’t sure where Wyoming’s name originated. The name might come from a Delaware Indian word meaning “mountains and valleys alternating,” or “large plains.” It might also come from the Munsee language, meaning “at the big river flat,” or the Algonquin language meaning, “a large prairie place.”

It’s nicknamed the Equality State because it was the first state to grant women the right to vote and to have women serve on juries and hold public office.

Right: Wyoming state symbols

GEOGRAPHY AND LANDFORMS

Wyoming is bordered by Montana in the north Montana, Idaho, and Utah in the west Utah and Colorado in the south and Nebraska and South Dakota in the east. It can be divided into three regions.

The Great Plains spread across the eastern part of the state, and is covered with shrubs and short grasses. This region also contains the Black Hills, where Devils Tower National Monument (the first national monument) stands. Devils Tower is a butte—a massive, flat-topped hill with steep sides. (You might think of national monuments as manmade buildings, but these sites can be important landforms too!)

The Rocky Mountain ranges run north to south across most of the state. Grand Teton National Park is here. So is Yellowstone, the world’s first national park. Yellowstone is well known for Old Faithful, a geyser that erupts about 17 times a day.

The Intermontane Basins region is between the mountain ranges, and has short grasses and few trees. It includes the Red Desert, the largest living dune system in the United States.

WILDLIFE

Buffalo, pronghorn, black bears, grizzlies, and bighorn sheep are among Wyoming’s many mammals. Red-tailed hawks, prairie falcons, pinyon jays, and mountain bluebirds are a few of the birds that soar overhead. Reptiles include western painted turtles, rubber boas, Great Basin skinks, and Great Plains earless lizards. Amphibians such as Columbia spotted frogs, Wyoming toads, and western tiger salamanders can be found here.

Grasses, semidesert shrubs, and desert shrubs cover nearly all of the state. Sagebrush and Rocky Mountain juniper are examples of these plants. In forested areas, you can find ponderosa pines, lodgepole pines, and Douglas firs. Yarrow, sticky purple geranium, pinkfairies, and Indian paintbrush (the state flower) are a few of the wildflowers that grow throughout Wyoming.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Wyoming produces the most coal in the United States. The state also produces petroleum, natural gas, and bentonite, a natural clay that comes from volcanic ash and is used in foods, construction, detergents, and as cat litter.

FUN STUFF

—Famous folks from Wyoming include painter Jackson Pollock and Patricia MacLachlan, the children’s author who wrote the book Sarah, Plain and Tall.

—Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is a town of ski resorts, dude ranches, and even wildlife safaris that showcase the Yellowstone ecosystem. It’s also home to the National Museum of Wildlife Art, which has a three-quarter-mile-long sculpture trail. Here, life-size buffalo and moose sculptures appear to gallop through the mountains!


Relief

Wyoming’s topography is dominated by several large basins and the ranges of the Rocky Mountains that border them. The broad basins are synclines. The mountains dominating Wyoming’s horizon were formed during a period of mountain-building activity known as the Laramide orogeny, which affected the region from about 70 million to 40 million years ago. The land surface of Wyoming has a mean elevation of 6,700 feet (2,040 metres) above sea level, the highest of any state except Colorado. Three-fourths of Wyoming lies more than 1 mile (1.6 km) in elevation, and two-fifths exceeds 7,000 feet (2,100 metres). The state’s lowest point, at 3,125 feet (953 metres), lies in the channel of the Belle Fourche River as it flows from the state into South Dakota its highest point, Gannett Peak, part of the Wind River Range in west-central Wyoming, reaches 13,804 feet (4,207 metres) in elevation.

Wyoming has six physiographic regions: the Black Hills the Great Plains the Southern, Middle, and Northern Rocky Mountains and the Wyoming Basin. The Black Hills extend into South Dakota and are of generally low relief. Wyoming’s Great Plains region occupies the easternmost one-third of the state, gradually increasing in elevation from the state’s eastern border to the many mountain ranges that mark the region’s western margin.

The Southern Rocky Mountains extend from northeastern Colorado along the Laramie, Medicine Bow, and Sierra Madre ranges, making their farthest extension into Wyoming along the Laramie Range, where the mountain system terminates just south of the North Platte River near the city of Casper. The Northern Rocky Mountain region extends south from Canada across the states of Montana and Idaho and enters Wyoming at the northwestern corner of Yellowstone Park. The much larger Middle Rocky Mountain region occupies most of the northwestern quarter of the state, extending south along the Idaho-Wyoming border into Utah. Included in this region are the scenic Bighorn and Wind River mountain ranges, the geysers and fumaroles of Yellowstone Park, the igneous Absaroka Plateau on the park’s eastern margins, and Gannett Peak.

The Wyoming Basin borders the Continental Divide between the Southern and Middle Rocky Mountains and is composed of interspersed smaller mountains and intermontane basins. This region includes Flaming Gorge, created by the erosive action of the Green River, and the Great Divide Basin, which encloses an area of interior drainage with no outlet.


Wyoming Railroads In "The Equality State"

Perhaps more than anywhere else Wyoming railroads are all about the coal, although that wasn't always the case.

This is Powder River Basin (PRB) country and you can literally watch (if you’re up for the drive) trains follow one another, elephant style, to and from the mines in the region. 

Table Of Contents

Through the mid-2010's, PRB coal became so highly demanded that BNSF Railway and Union Pacific would dispatch a combined 85 trains a day from mines in Wyoming and Montana. 

With coal's decline in recent years, however, this number has declined somewhat. 

Historically, the state was home to Union Pacific's main line and key maintenance facility in Cheyenne.  In addition, the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy maintained a through route here (now operated by BNSF).  

For a state of its size, Wyoming has surprisingly lost almost none of its rail infrastructure, only short abandonments here and there. 

Today, Cheyenne remains an important location for UP.  This is also the point where the railroad's steam fleet is maintained 4-6-6-4 #3985 (since retired), 4-8-4 #844, and 4-8-8-4 "Big Boy" #4014.

So, if you enjoy gorgeous scenery, trains battling Mother Nature and lots of coal then Wyoming railroads offer it all!

Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 "Big Boy" #4017 is west of Cheyenne, Wyoming with a long manifest freight on September 8, 1958. Richard Wallin photo.

A Brief History Of Wyoming Railroads

Wyoming railroads date back to the Union Pacific when the railroad reached the state’s eastern fringes in 1862 en route to its eventual meeting with the Central Pacific Railroad in May of 1869 at Promontory Point, Utah to complete the famed Transcontinental Railroad.

Interestingly, the state of Wyoming became an important state to Union Pacific as Cheyenne was a major hub where its two eastern main lines converged (and still do).

Classic Lines To Serve Wyoming

Additionally, its main line to the Pacific Northwest (Idaho, Oregon, and Washington), much of which was controlled by its former subsidiary the Oregon Short Line, diverged from its main route to Los Angeles in western Wyoming.

Colorado & Southern 2-10-2 #900 (Class E-5A) steams along the western end of Chicago, Burlington & Quincy's system with a short freight train near rural Horse Creek, Wyoming on October 25, 1957.

While Union Pacific still mostly dominates Wyoming's rail network, the West's other major Class I, BNSF Railway also retains a presence in the state operating former CB&Q/C&S lines.

Abandoned Railroads Of Wyoming

The state of Wyoming's rail network has only slightly declined since the 1920's.  The decline has only been 50 miles and actually peaked in 1995 at 2,065.

As a result, there are few abandoned railroads here.  The most notable is the original routing of Union Pacific during its building of the Transcontinental Railroad during the 1860's.

Since that time the railroad has greatly improved its main line between Cheyenne and Evanston and bypassed more circuitousਊnd steep sections.

The other notable line was the Chicago & North Western's former "Cowboy Line" to Lander, Wyoming.  Most of this long branch, which pushed west from Omaha, Nebraska was intended by the C&NW to reach the west coast.

Unfortunately, the railroad ran out of money before it was able to complete this route.  It remained a long, agricultural branch until its final abandonment in the early 1990's.

Of course, both companies control the lucrative PRB coal, which now is a four-track main line shared by the two western giants.

Former regional Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern long attempted to push its way into the PRB region but when it was acquired by Canadian Pacific in 2008 the Class I showed no interest in this project.

Several Burlington Northern SD40-2's and a fuel tender hustle empties back to the mine south of Donkey Creek, Wyoming in July, 1991. Warren Calloway photo.

Aside from these Class Is serving Wyoming today, there are also a few short lines operating in the state including the Bighorn Divide & Wyoming Railroad and the Colorado & Wyoming Railway. 

In this scene Union Pacific's, eastbound "City of Los Angeles," was captured at Dale Creek, Wyoming outside of Laramie circa 1950.

Today's Wyoming railroads operate over 1,850 route miles, which interestingly has not significantly changed over the years due to the surging demand for the clean-burning PRB coal.

During the late 1990s the state actually saw its peak mileage at over 2,050 miles and still retains much of this infrastructure. For more information on Wyoming railroads, in terms of route mileage over the years please refer to the chart below.

* Wyoming's first railroad was the Union Pacific as it built west to meet the Central Pacific in establishing the nation's first transcontinental railroad.  In his book, "The Men Who Built The Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869," author Stephen Ambrose provided an excerpt from the Chicago Tribune's November 16, 1867 edition in which the lead article noted:

"Dated Cheyenne 11/14/67 Yesterday, at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, track-laying crews on the UP was completed to the city of Cheyenne, and in a few moments the whistle of the locomotive was heard above the noise of the hammers and the rattle of wagons all over the bustling city." 

It marked the initial 43 miles of railroad serving what was then Wyoming Territory (Wyoming after July 10, 1890). 

Union Pacific would, of course, go on to meet Central Pacific at Promontory Summit, Utah on May 10, 1869.

Historically, Wyoming lay right in the heart of Union Pacific's classic streamliner fleet, the City trains such as the PortlandLos Angeles, and San Francisco.

With Amtrak not retaining even one of UP's revered City trains the national carrier currently provides no service to the state of Wyoming. However, to learn more about these classic UP streamliners please਌lick here. 

If you’re interested in railroad museums and tourist railroads, while Wyoming railroads do not feature much there are a few things to see.

First is the Douglas Railroad Interpretive Center, maintained by the Douglas Area Chamber of Commerce in Douglas, Wyoming.

The chamber includes a small collection of equipment, such as a Burlington 4-8-4 steam locomotive, which is housed at the restored Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Railroad depot.

A Union Pacific FA-1/FB-1 set, led by #1606-C, at Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1964. Mac Owen photo.

There is also the Cheyenne Depot Museum (also known as the Wyoming Transportation Museum) housed in the beautiful Union Pacific railroad depot in Cheyenne.   Also, for great reading about a few now-abandoned Wyoming rail lines please click here.

In all whether you enjoy Mother Nature’s beauty, main line railroading, or large steam locomotives that put on quite a show, Wyoming railroads offer it all.

And remember, if you tire of the railroading just head up to Yosemite National Park to see some of the most spectacular natural wonders in the country. It alone is well worth the drive to see, railroads or no railroads!


Wyoming — History and Culture


Few other states in America embody the attitude and atmosphere of the working cowboy as much as Wyoming. This rugged, remote territory got its start with cattle ranching, but eventually added leisure tourism to its economy when the world’s first national park was established at Yellowstone. Wyoming is a four-season travel destination, with great skiing at Jackson Hole and plenty of summer outdoor adventure in the Tetons and Wind River Range. The folks here have found a way to merge their cowboy traditions with the tourist dollar by transforming dozens of huge ranches into guest ranches where visitors can live out their dreams of being a cowboy (or cowgirl) for a few days.

History

Several major Native American tribes lived in Wyoming prior to the arrival of the first Europeans. The Lakota, Shoshone, Crow, and Arapaho were the largest tribes living here and today, the Lakota and Shoshone share a huge Indian reservation in the Wind River Valley. They hold many sites in Wyoming as sacred, including Devils Tower and the Grand Tetons.

Though French fur trappers were the first Europeans into the area, the Lewis and Clark Expedition led by John Colter and his Shoshone wife Sacagawea reached Wyoming in 1807. Their initial reports of Yellowstone were considered to be fictional, but the discovery of South Pass in 1812 allowed the Oregon Trail to continue over the mountains into the Pacific Northwest. In 1850 Jim Bridger discovered Bridger Pass, which was later used by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1868 and again by Interstate 80 to help travelers get through the dense Rocky Mountains.

When the Union Pacific Railroad reached the city of Cheyenne in 1867, Wyoming really began to open up to immigration and trade. The Wyoming Territory was established by the US government that same year. After endless speculation over the reality of Yellowstone’s natural wonders, enough people finally witnessed the place to encourage the US government to create the world’s first national park in 1872.

Wyoming has been a progressive state from the start. In 1869, its governor granted women the right to vote in local elections, making Wyoming the first US state to allow women’s suffrage. The state boasts the country’s first female governor (in 1924), an event which earned it the nickname the Equality State.

The early economy was based largely around cattle ranching, and the state still has a sizeable dude ranch sector. This has evolved into tourism revenue with the creation of guest ranches that allow visitors to experience cowboy life without any of the hardships. Yellowstone National Park helped open up the West to the concept of leisure travel, with tourism further expanded in the state when the Grand Tetons were developed into the ski area of Jackson Hole and Grand Tetons National Park. Tourism remains an essential component of Wyoming’s economy.

Culture

Wyoming’s nickname, the Cowboy State, perfectly describes the prevailing vibe of this true grit Western territory. Genuine cattle ranches with working cowboys can be seen throughout Wyoming, and even many newcomers have eagerly adopted the cowboy wannabe look and attitude. The residents of Wyoming are strong, independent people who live off the land and greatly respect it. This isn’t a place where cosmopolitan affairs concern many folks, but the locals are very welcoming to the millions of tourists who come each year to experience the beauty and cowboy culture of their state.

Besides this ranching environment, Wyoming is a haven for hardcore outdoor enthusiasts. The town of Jackson Hole is where most of them gravitate, thanks to its extremely challenging ski terrain and world-class rock climbing and mountaineering. These young adrenalin junkies make up the other main demographic of Wyoming, adding a welcome splash of color and energy to the traditional conservatism of the cowboys.


Debate & Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures, Consequences

The National History Day (NHD) program is a year-long education program that culminates in a national contest every June. Wyoming History Day, administered by the American Heritage Center, occurs every year in April. National History Day engages students in grades 6-12 in the process of discovery and interpretation of historical topics. Students produce dramatic performances, imaginative exhibits, multimedia documentaries and thought-provoking papers based on research related to an annual theme. These projects are then evaluated at local, state, and national competitions.

Congratulations to our 2021 Wyoming History Day Winners!

First Place: “Communication Through McGuffey Education” Memphis Dolcater and Cadence McGuffey – Shoshoni Elementary School – 12004

Second Place: “Kent State Massacre” Ashtyn Chapman, Mataia Henderson, Aleksey McColloch – Greybull Middle School - 12003

First Place: “Messenger Pigeons – Tiny Message Carrying War Heroes” Japel Olin and Mason Lynch – Jackson Hole Middle School – 16002

Second Place: “Secret Letter, Top Secret Spies” Chole Hidalgo, Xyla Rehling, Nathan Sanderson – Upton Middle School – 16004

First Place: “The End of Segregation” Asher Crimm and Brody Shepard – Shoshoni Elementary School - 18006

Second Place: “Louis Braille – Development of a Reading and Writing System for the Visually Impaired” Elise Kuhbacher and Zoey Wilson – Upton Middle School - 18002

First Place: “When Compassion was a Crime (The White Rose Resistance Awakening the Conscience of Germans” Eleni McKee – Wheatland Middle School – 11002

Second Place: “The Battle of Gettysburg: From Battlegrounds Stories to Monumental Proclamations” Madelynn Mills – Upton Middle School – 11003

First Place: “Navajo Code Talkers” Baxter William – Jackson Hole Middle School – 15002

Second Place: “Leaving A Mark” Kaylor McConnaughey – Shoshoni Elementary School – 15003

First Place: “Oh the Things He Did Say: Dr. Suess Communicating the Cold War” Karely Garcia and Karly Jones – Wheatland Middle School – 14002

Second Place: “Slave Songs” Reece Riehemann, Hannah Stirmel, Holly Trandahl – Upton Middle School – 14003

First Place: “Phillis Wheatley: Communication Through Literature” Rylee Loebe – Upton Middle School – 17002

Second Place: “”Straight From the Horse’s Mouth” Hippotherapy: The Silent Communication Between Horse and Rider.” Kaylee Rasnake – Wheatland Middle School – 17004

First Place: “Carrying the Message: How Carrier Pigeons Were Used to Communicate Important Messages Throughout History” Zoe Hoff – Torrington Middle School – 10004

Second Place: “Navajo Code Talkers: Cryptography in World War II” Jordan Nalani – Greybull Middle School – 10002

First Place “Welcome to the Miss America Cattle Auction” Allen Sahale and Paula Medina – Cody High School – 26005

First Place “The Freedom Rides: Civil Disobedience, Crisis, and the Use of Non-Violence to Communicate the Realities of Oppression to America.” Mia Brazil – Jackson Hole High School - 21005

Second Place “The Papers of the People: Native American Newspapers Throughout History” – Bailey Liebert – Cody High School – 21003

First Place: "The Barbie Doll: Undermining the Message of the Female Independence with the Message of Submissive Femininit" - Elizabeth Hill - Jackson Hole High School - 25002

Second Place: “The Silent Scream: Fetal Ultrasound Becomes an Antiabortion Weapon” Fernanda Costilla-Correa – Jackson High School – 25002

First Place: “Women’s Rights Communicated Through a Law: Title IX” Rylie Alberts – Kelly Walsh High School – 27004

Second Place “Purdue Pharma’s False Promise: OxyContin and the Opioid Epidemic” Andrew Hanna – Jackson High School – 27002

First Place: “Starving to Communicate: Cooking by Mouth and Phantom Cookbooks During the Holocaust” Ruby Homer-Wambeam – Laramie Homebeam Homeschool - 20005

Second Place: “The Pentagon Papers: How a Lack of Communication Created National Tension” Griffen Anderson – Jackson High School – 20003

America Heritage Center Native American Award - $100 for the best entry which illuminates a cultural or historical indigenous population.

  • “The Papers of the People: Native American Newspapers Throughout History” Bailey Liebert – Cody High School – 21003

American Heritage Center Primary Sources Award - $200 for the entry with the best use of primary resources.

  • “Disney’s Use of Propaganda in WW2: Communicating Racism and Nationalism to Win the War” Sean Brice – Jackson Hole High School – 21001

Cheyenne Frontier Days™ Old West Museum’s American West Experience Award - $100 for an outstanding junior division and senior division entry which illuminates some aspect of the American experience in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, or Colorado.

American Heritage Center’s Caroline Lockhart Historic Newspaper Award - $100 each for an outstanding junior division and senior division entry which effectively integrates and utilizes historic newspapers in their research.

  • “The Papers of the People: Native American Newspapers Throughout History” Bailey Liebert – Cody High School – 21003

Wyoming State Historical Society’s Clara Jensen Award - $100 for the best entry on Wyoming History.

Colonial Dames Heritage Award Sponsored by the Wyoming Chapter of the Colonial Dames of America - $100 cash award for the outstanding entry dealing with family history.

  • “Communication Through McGuffey Education” Memphis Dolcater and McGuffey Cadence – Shoshoni Elementary School – 12004

DAR History Award Sponsored by the Jacques Laramie Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution - $50 to an outstanding Junior Individual entry for any topic focusing on an outstanding woman in history.

Gerald and Jessie F. Chambers Award Sponsored by the American Heritage Center - $500 to the outstanding Junior Division and Senior Division entries.

  • “When Compassion was a Crime (The White Rose Resistance Awakening the Conscience of Germans)” – Eleni McKee – Wheatland Middle School – 11002
  • “Starving to Communicate: Cooking by Mouth and Phantom Cookbooks During the Holocaust” – Ruby Homer-Wambeam – Laramie Homebeam Homeschool – 20005

Jurisprudence Award Sponsored by the Wyoming State Bar - $250 to the best Junior and Senior Division entries dealing with jurisprudence issues.

  • “The Silent Scream: Fetal Ultrasound Becomes an Antiabortion Weapon” Fernanda Costilla-Correa – Jackson Hole High School – 25002

Liz Byrd Cultural Diversity Award Sponsored by the American Heritage Center - $100 to the best entry that represents an aspect of cultural diversity or human rights.

  • “” Actions Speak Louder than Words” Communicating Honor and Bravery” Delany Aurich and Camryn Mickelsen – Wheatland Middle School – 12002

Dr. Robert Campbell Teacher Award Sponsored by the Joseph Stepans Family - $750 to a teacher who promotes student education in a way that includes the stories of marginalized people or communities in Wyoming through innovative strategies for instruction in choosing researching completing and presenting a topic (as evidenced by student entries from their school).

International History Award Sponsored by the UWYO Global Engagement Office - $100 for the best entry dealing with international issues.

  • “An Iranian Hostage Crisis Communicated Through Protest” Olivia Hammell – Kelly Walsh High School – 25001

Alan K. Simpson Institute for Western Politics and Leadership Award Sponsored by the Simpson Institute at the American Heritage Center - $250 for the best Junior and Senior Division entries dealing with political history and leadership.

  • “Kent State Massacre” Ashtyn Chapman, Mataia Henderson, and Aleksey McColloch – Greybull Middle School – 12003
  • “Disney’s Use of Propaganda in WW2: Communicating Racism and Nationalism to Win the War” – Sean Brice – Jackson Hole High School – 21001

American Heritage Center’s Creativity Award - $250 for the most creative entry.

  • “Oh the Things He Did Say: Dr. Seuss Communicating the Cold War” Karely Garcia and Karly Jones – Wheatland Middle School – 14002

William H. Barton Award Sponsored by the Wyoming State Historical Society - $100 for the best use of oral history in an entry.

Wyoming State Archaeological Society Award - $100 for the best entry with a focus on archaeology, biological anthropology, cultural anthropology, or linguistics.

  • “The Papers of the People: Native American Newspapers Throughout History” Bailey Liebert – Cody High School – 21003

Wyoming Association of Professional Archaeologists Award - $100 for an outstanding entry dealing with archaeological issues.

  • “Communication Through Ledger Paintings” Hallie Ogden and Maylee Potas – Meeteetse High School – 26003

Wyoming Humanities Giving Voice Award Sponsored by Wyoming Humanities Council - $500 for the outstanding entry dealing with giving voice to underrepresented voices.

  • “Amber Alert: New Technology Helping to Save Endangered Children” – Elizabeth May – Jackson Hole High School – 20001

American Heritage Center’s Exhibit Award - $100 for the outstanding Junior and Senior Division exhibits.

  • “Punk A Sound and Culture that Shaped a Generation” Sam Hutchinson and Will Putnam – Jackson Hole Middle School – 16006
  • “Welcome to the Miss America Cattle Auction” Sahale Allen and Paula Medina – Cody High School – 26005

Finis and Emma Mitchell Environmental History Award - $100 for the outstanding environmental history project.


Fur trade and the Union Pacific Railroad

The early explorers were followed by small numbers of fur traders. Although there were likely never more than 500 traders in Wyoming at any given time, the state’s economy between 1825 and 1840 was heavily dependent on the activities of famous trappers and traders, including Jim Bridger, William Sublette, Jedediah Smith, and Thomas Fitzpatrick.

The number of people entering the Wyoming area increased with the westward movement of the U.S. population. After the discovery of the South Pass through the Rocky Mountains, as many as 400,000 emigrants crossed Wyoming between 1841 and 1868 on the Oregon, Overland, Mormon, Bozeman, and Bridger trails leading to what are now the present-day states of Oregon, Washington, Montana, Utah, and California. It is estimated that in 1850 alone as many as 55,000 crossed the future state. Pony Express riders, including William F. Cody, better known as Buffalo Bill, carried the mail across Wyoming between April 1860 and October 1861. The military posts of Fort Laramie and Fort Phil Kearny were established during this period.

In November 1867 the first train of the Union Pacific Railroad reached Cheyenne and made the state accessible to settlers and visitors. Also that year Fort D.A. Russell (now Francis E. Warren Air Force Base) was built on the branch of the South Platte River, 3 miles (5 km) west of present-day Cheyenne. Cheyenne grew from a handful of people to more than 6,000 in the first year, though the town consisted largely of tents and shacks, with a limited number of commercial buildings. This rapid population growth continued in southern Wyoming as the Union Pacific tracks continued across the state, finally entering Utah in 1868. The building of the railroad focused attention on the West, and the Wyoming Territory was created on July 25, 1868.


Concurrent majors with teaching certification

Why Study History?

Who hasn’t heard someone say, “I just love history?” Maybe that person is you? History is a vibrant and fascinating study of people, events, and institutions in the past and, for many people, that’s reason enough to earn a history degree. But there are larger and more practical reasons to choose history as your major. Here are a few of those reasons that historian Peter Stearns complied for the American Historical Association:


Wyoming - HISTORY

General Wyoming State History

There is evidence of more than 12,000 years of prehistoric occupation in Wyoming. Among these groups were Clovis, 12,000 years ago, Folsom, 10,000 years ago, and Eden Valley, 8,000 years ago. The latter were the big game hunters of the Early period. Following these, and remaining until about 500 A.D., were many groups with a mixed hunting and gathering economy. These were followed by the predecessors of the historic Indians.

On the crest of Medicine Mountain, 40 miles east of Lovell, Wyoming, is located the Medicine Wheel which has 28 spokes and a circumference of 245 feet. This was an ancient shrine built of stone by the hands of some forgotten tribe. A Crow chief has been reputed as saying, "It was built before the light came by people who had no iron." This prehistoric relic still remains one of Wyoming's unsolved puzzles.

Southwest of Lusk, covering an area of 400 square miles, are the remains of prehistoric stone quarries known as the "Spanish Diggings." Here is mute evidence of strenuous labor performed by many prehistoric groups at different times. Quartzite, jasper and agate were mined. Artifacts of this Wyoming material have been found as far away as the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys.

The historic Indians in Wyoming were nomadic tribes known as the Plains Indians. They were the Arapaho, Arikara, Bannock, Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Crow, Gros Ventre, Kiowa, Nez Perce, Sheep Eater, Sioux, Shoshone and Ute tribes. Of all of these tribes, the Cheyenne and Sioux were the last of the Indians to be controlled and placed on reservations.

Among the Plains Indians, art is found in the actual form of the object as well as in its decorative value. The Indian artist is concerned with the technology or function of an object more than with the purely artistic merits of what he produces.

Plainsmen were the hunters, warriors and religious leaders of their tribes, therefore, their crafts were related to these occupations. Both men and women were artists and craftsmen traditionally, each producing articles for everyday use as well as for ceremonial purposes. Usually, quilling and beading were done by women and carving was done by the men.

It is as difficult to separate art from the Indian's daily life as it is to separate his religion from his daily life. All are tightly interwoven. There is one Indian reservation in Wyoming, the Wind River Reservation, with headquarters at Fort Washakie. The reservation is the home of some 2,357 Shoshone and 3,501 Arapaho Indians. The total acreage of the reservation is 1,888,334, exclusive of lands owned by the Bureau of Reclamation and other patented lands within the exterior boundaries.

One of the earliest explorers of Wyoming was John Colter in 1807. While exploring the Rocky Mountains, he discovered a region of steaming geysers and towering water falls so unusual that his written reports nicknamed the area "Colter's Hell." The same area, in 1872, was set aside forever as a place to be enjoyed by everyone. It became known as Yellowstone, the world's first National Park.

Wyoming owes its early settlement in part to the gentlemen of Europe. Their fondness of beaver top hats sent early-day trappers to the Rocky Mountains in search of the prized pelts. Famous mountain men such as Kit Carson, Jim Bridger, Davey Jackson and Jedediah Smith were among the trappers, explorers and traders to first roam the Wyoming territory.

Gold in California and the lure of rich land in Oregon brought increasing numbers of pioneer wagon trains rolling over the Oregon Trails through Wyoming. Pony soldiers came to protect the wagon trains from hostile Indians, and the soldiers established forts along the trails.

The most important of the western military posts was Ft. Laramie in southeastern Wyoming. Ft. Laramie became a haven for gold seekers and weary emigrants. It was also an important station for the Pony Express and the Overland stagecoaches, and it served as a vital military post in the wars with the Plains Indians. Ft. Laramie witnessed the growth of the open range cattle industry, the coming of homesteaders and the building of towns which marked the final closing of the wild, western frontier in 1890.

Wyoming was the scene of the end of the great Indian battles. Ft. Phil Kearny in northern Wyoming had the bloodiest history of any fort in the West. Thousands of well organized Indians from the Cheyenne, Arapaho and Sioux tribes fought battle after battle with the U.S. Cavalry. A famous battle took place in 1866 when 81 soldiers set out from Ft. Kearny and were drawn into a classic military ambush by Indians led by Crazy Horse and Red Cloud. None of the "blue coats" survived.

Great herds of buffalo once grazed on the rolling hills of Wyoming, giving rise to one of the state's best known citizens, William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody. Today in the town he founded, Cody, near Yellowstone National Park, is an enormous museum dedicated to Buffalo Bill and the West he loved and helped settle. Near the turn of the century, Buffalo Bill took his Wild West Show to Great Britain and the European continent to give audiences a brief glimpse of the cowboys, Indians and other characters who lived in America's west during Wyoming's early days.

Wyoming is also known as the "Equality State" because of the rights women have traditionally enjoyed here. Wyoming women were the first in the nation to vote, serve on juries and hold public office.

In 1869, Wyoming's territorial legislature became the first government in the world to grant "female suffrage" by enacting a bill granting Wyoming women the right to vote. The act was signed into law on December 10 of that year by Governor A.J. Campbell.

Less than three months after the signing of that act, on February 17, 1870, the "Mother of Women Suffrage in Wyoming"-Ester Hobart Morris of South Pass City-became the first woman ever to be appointed a justice of the peace. Laramie was also the site for the first equal suffrage vote cast in the nation by a woman-Mrs. Louisa Swain on September 6, 1870.

In 1894, Estelle Reel (Mrs. Cort F. Meyer) became one of the first women in the United States elected to a state office, that of Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

In 1924, Mrs. Nellie Tayloe Ross was the first elected woman governor to take office in the United States. She took office on January 5, 1925, 20 days before "Ma" Ferguson of Texas (elected on the same day) took office. Mrs. Ross went on to become the first woman to be appointed Director of the United States Mint-a position she held for 20 years, from 1933 to 1953. In 1991, women held three of the state's five top elective positions and a total of 23 women hold seats in the Wyoming Legislature, three in the Senate and 20 in the House.

Talk of statehood for Wyoming began as early as 1869 after the organization of Wyoming Territory in that year. The road to statehood, however, did not begin until 1888 when the Territorial Assembly sent Congress a petition for admission into the Union. Bills were introduced in both houses of Congress, but did not pass.


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