Monday, July 20, 2015

Happy Birthday, Wyoming!

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear Wyoming,
Happy Birthday to you!

Are ya one, are ya two, are ya three, are ya four…

     So a few weeks ago, this awesome state turned 125 years old. In my last post, I rambled on about being a Wyomingite, so this time I’d like to get a little bit into the history of the place. In my quest for knowledge over the past week, I’ve learned a ton about our state, and I’d like to share a little bit with you now:
Wyoming officially became a state on July 10, 1890 as the 44th state in the Union. But there’s so much more history to it before. In fact, there’s many thousands of years of history before that, but I’d make you spend the rest of your day sitting there and reading it, so I’d rather not. Wyoming was defined by three totally different things: equality, the railroad, and mining. Let’s get started!

      First, equality. We were the first state to give women the vote! This was even before we became a state, in 1869, while we were still the Wyoming Territory. William Bright sponsored a bill to allow women to vote. Wyoming thought, “why not?” and passed it into law. The suffragist Susan B. Anthony traveled here by way of the newly completed Transcontinental Railroad to “the land of Freedom” in 1871, which I bet was pretty cool. The 19th Amendment gave the rest of the nation’s women the vote much later, in 1919.
Next, the railroad: a biggie. The Transcontinental Railroad, completed in 1869, was groundbreaking. It brought together the East and the West. New York to Sacramento, what used to be a grueling, perilous journey of six months by wagon, took now only a mere two weeks. Although, as Grandpa will talk about in his upcoming post, the grueling perilous journey of six months is still the same today with modern air travel. Many cities in Wyoming were founded because of it, including Green River, Rawlins, Laramie, and Cheyenne.

     Lastly, coal! We produce 40 percent of the nation’s supply of it. Long ago, although it seems weird, Wyoming was mostly underwater, and the bits that weren’t were tropical paradise. When all that stuff decomposed over millions of years, we gained tons of resources including coal and oil. Wyoming mining has transformed both us and the rest of the nation. You can’t swing a dead cat here and not hit some mine or other, usually coal. Grandpa spent some time down in the mines living in Green River way back when. Poor thing.

     So there we are. A few things that have transformed Wyoming from the wild west, vast and untamed, into the state it is today. I’m proud of all the work these people have put into it, and the great product it is today. And boy, is it great.

     There’s a lot to be proud of, too. Vast prairie without a sign of civilization for miles and miles. The Tetons, rocky spires shooting up from the ground against a fierce blue Wyoming sky. Yellowstone, the thundering of hundreds of hooves of buffalo like a thousand drums, geysers erupting on all sides. Tranquil streams, with brookies jumping and wildflowers on all fronts. Steamy forest ground, pine trees shooting up hundreds of feet in the air after a recent rainstorm high in the Wind Rivers. Miles of scorching red desert in south-central Wyoming. My favorite, a small, one-room log cabin, nestled in some trees in the Southwestern Wind River Range, a curl of smoke issuing from the chimney. Wyoming has it all, whether you’re a hunter, angler, hiker, explorer, or a combination of them all.

-The Ranger

1 comment: