Wyoming is the least populous state in the United States, which might make it seem less interesting than other states, but that's just not so. In fact, there are many interesting things to learn about the state despite its small population. Students living in Wyoming should learn the rich history of their state, but facts about Wyoming are also useful for students who are studying about the 44th state in U.S. history classes dealing with America's westward expansion or when considering the nation's geography.
A Few Fun Facts
Wyoming is nicknamed the Cowboy State, and with good reason since the state sport is rodeo. The state holds the annual Cheyenne Frontier Days, which started in 1897. The event takes place in capital city of Cheyenne, and includes rodeos, bull riding, country concerts and other Western-themed activities. The state can pack in the snow in the winter. For example, over the winter of 1979-80, Cheyenne was inundated with a record 121.5 inches of snow. The state went through a period of rapid growth between 1870 and 1910, when the population rose sixteen-fold, an increase of 136,847 residents. Between 1910 and 2010, the state's population rose by almost 418,000.
A Few Firsts
Despite being one of the last states added to the nation, Wyoming has bragging rights with several firsts in the country. For example, Wyoming was the first state to establish a county library system, the Laramie County Public Library System, in 1886. The first national park in the entire world, Yellowstone National Park, was established in this state in 1872, and it has the distinction of creating the first national forest, Shoshone National Forest, in 1891. Wyoming holds a singular place in the history of women's equality. Wyoming was the first state to grant women the right to vote, which took place in 1869, 51 years before the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, granting women nationwide that right. Wyoming was also first to give women the rights to serve on juries and hold public office. In fact, the first town in the U.S. to be run entirely by women was Jackson, which in 1920 had a female mayor, council and town marshal.
Wyoming in History
The Oregon Trail runs through parts of Wyoming, and was traversed by many people seeking gold in California and land in Oregon. One of the most well-known residents of Wyoming was William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, who gained fame as a Western showman and bison hunter. The town of Cody is named after him. Many forts were built along the Oregon Trail, and Fort Laramie was one of the most important as it served as a stop on the Pony Express and a safe haven for soldiers fighting wars against Native Americans.
The People and Culture
As of 2012, 576,412 people called Wyoming home, an average of 5.8 people per square mile, the smallest of all the 48 contiguous states. Wyoming has the largest Indian reservation in the United States. The Wind River Indian Reservation spans 2.2 million acres and the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes call it home. Wyoming is the only state in the union without a zoo. The closest thing the state has to a zoo is an exhibit at The Science Zone, a museum in Casper, which includes turtles, an iguana, snakes, geckos, tortoises, salamanders and three tarantulas. In 2008, Wyoming was ranked as the best state in the nation for statewide litter elimination on public properties.
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.