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Wyoming History: 8 Events That Shaped the State

Image: Wyoming History: 8 Events That Shaped the State
Citadel Rock butte, Green River, Wyoming, 1868. Albumen print. (wikimedia/commons)

By    |   Monday, 23 Feb 2015 11:32 PM

Despite being the 10th largest U.S. state in total area, Wyoming is the least populous. The eastern Rocky Mountains cover the western part of the state, while the High Plains make up the eastern part.

None of this suggests that Wyoming hasn't played an important role in the history of America, as they've been responsible for a number of firsts. Here are eight events that shaped the state:

1. The area's history goes back centuries, but in 1833, Captain Benjamin L. E. de Bonneville mapped the future state and discovered oil east of the Wind River Mountains, according to The Robinson Library.

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2. On Dec. 10, 1869, Wyoming became the first U.S. territory to grant women voting rights, a milestone that accelerated the suffrage movement. While Western territories generally led the way for such progress, the motives may go beyond gender equality. Men outnumbered women six to one in Wyoming, and lawmakers hoped the change would bring women to the area, while others may have supported it to bolster conservative voting bloc, according to the History.com.

3. Wyoming did its part for conservatism when Yellowstone Park became the world's first national park, in 1872. The destination in northwestern Wyoming remains one of America's most popular attractions, bringing millions each year to visit Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring. Many more national parks came after, but Yellowstone showed the need to preserve natural lands for plants and wildlife.

4. Wyoming joined became the 44th state to join the Union on July 10, 1890. Politicians agreed that Wyoming Territory was ready for statehood, an attractive way to for local businessmen and politicians to gain more control over land and water issues. Its first governor was Francis Warren, who resigned a month into his term when he was elected to the United State Senate.

5. More than 30 years after Wyoming's Yellowstone earned the designation as the first national park, the natural landmark Devils Tower became the country's first national monument. A natural rock formed from a volcanic intrusion, it was set aside on Sept. 24, 1906, by President Theodore Roosevelt. The formation sits more than 1,200 feet above the state's eastern plains and the Belle Fourche River.

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6. Continuing their trend of furthering the women's movement, Wyoming elected the nation's first female governor on Nov. 4, 1924, 55 years after granting women the right to vote. Nellie Tayloe Ross was the widow of William Ross, who served as governor from 1923 until his death in 1924, and she was chosen to complete his four-year term, which ended in 1927. Six years later, she was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the first woman to head the U.S. Mint, according to History Headlines.

7. Though a rural state, Wyoming showed a focus on education when the Laramie County Library System was established in Cheyenne in August 1866, and it is the oldest continually operating county library system in the U.S.

8. The Johnson County War, also known as the War on Powder River and the Wyoming Range War, this conflict took place in three Wyoming counties on April 5, 1892. It pitted small factions of settling ranchers against larger established ones, and developed in a bloody gunfight that also included hired killers, a sheriff's posse and the U.S. Cavalry. Over time, the specifics have been romanticized and became the basis for books, movies, and TV shows.

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Despite being the 10th largest U.S. state in total area, Wyoming is the least populous. The eastern Rocky Mountains cover the western part of the state, while the High Plains make up the eastern part.
Wyoming History, Old Faithful, Yellowstone, Devils Tower
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2015-32-23
Monday, 23 Feb 2015 11:32 PM
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