1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Wyoming
WYOMING, one of the Central Western states of the United States of America, situated between the parallels of latitude 41° and 45° N., and the meridians of longitude 27° and 34° W. of Washington. It is bounded on the N. by Montana on the E. by S. Dakota and Nebraska, on the S. by Colorado and Utah, and on the W. by Utah, Idaho, and a small southward projection of Montana. The state has a length of about 375 m. E. and W. along its southern border and a breadth of 276 m. N. and S. It has an area of 97,914 sq. m., of which 320 sq. m. are water surface.
Much of the state is drained by branches of the Missouri river, the most important being the Yellowstone, Bighorn and Powder rivers flowing N., and the Cheyenne and North Platte flowing E. The Green river, a branch of the Colorado, flows S. from the S.W. of the state, while the Snake river rises farther N. and flows W. to the Pacific drainage. S.W. of the centre of the state is an area with no outward drainage, the streams emptying into desert lakes.
Fauna.—Great herds of bison formerly ranged the plains and a few are still preserved in the National Park. The white-tailed Virginia deer inhabits the bottom lands and the mule deer the more open country. Lewis's prairie dog, the cottontail rabbit, the coyote, the grey wolf and the kit fox are all animals of the plains. In the mountains are elk, puma, lynx, the varying hare and snowshoe rabbit, the yellow-haired porcupine, Fremont's and Bailey's squirrels, the mountain sheep, the four-striped chipmunk, Townsend's spermophile, the prong-horned antelope, the cinnamon pack-rat, grizzly, brown, silver tip and black bears and the wolverine. Other animals, more or less common, are the black-tailed deer, the jackrabbit, the badger, the skunk, the beaver, the moose and the weasel. The prairie rattlesnake is common in the dry plains country. The streams are well stocked with rainbow and brook trout. The former fish were introduced from California in 1885. They thrive in the Wyoming streams and rivers and are superior game fish. Specimens of eight and ten pounds weight have been taken by rod and fly fishermen from the Big Laramie river. Other fish native to the waters of the state are the sturgeon, catfish, perch (locally called pike), buffalo fish, flathead and sucker.
There is a great variety of birds. Eared grebes and ring-billed gulls breed on the sloughs of the plains, and rarely the white pelican nests about the lake shores. Here, too, breed many species of ducks, the mallard, gadwall, baldpate, three species of teal, shoveler, pintail, hooded mergansers, and Canada geese; other ducks and geese are migrants only. Formerly the trumpeter swan nested here. On the plains a few waders breed, as the avocet, western willet and long billed curlew; but most are birds of passage. At high altitudes the mountain plover is found; the dusky grouse haunts the forests above 8000 ft.; the white-tailed ptarmigan is resident in the alpine regions; and on the plains are found the prairie sharp-tailed grouse and the sage-hen. The turkey-buzzard is found mainly in the plains country. Various hawks and owls are common; the golden eagle nests on the mountain crags and the burrowing owl on the plains. The red-naped sapsucker and Lewis's woodpecker are conspicuous in wooded lands; Nuttall's poor-will, Say's phoebe, the desert horned lark, Bullock's oriole, the yellow-headed blackbird and McCown's longspur are characteristic of the open lowlands.
Flora.—Forest growth in Wyoming is limited to the highest mountain ranges, the most important forests being in the Black Hills region in the N.E., on the lower slopes of the Bighorn Mountains, and in the Rocky Mountain ranges of the N.W. of the state, including Yellowstone National Park. The yellow pine is the most important tree in the Bighorns, and small lodge-pole pine makes up the greater part of the N.W. forests. White fir is found above the foothill zone, and heavy growths of cottonwood along the streams in the Bighorn region. The Douglas spruce and Rocky Mountain white pine are common in the forests of the Medicine Bow Mountains, from which much of the native lumber used in the S. of the state is secured. Other trees are the juniper, willow, green ash, box elder scrub oak, wild plum and wild cherry. Occasional cottonwoods along streams are the only trees on the plains. The common sage brush, artemisia, is the characteristic shrub of the plains where the soil is comparatively free from alkali, and is abundant in the valleys of the arid foot hills. Where alkali is present, the plains may be nearly barren, or covered with grease wood and species of atriplex, including the so-called white sage. Grease wood is likewise abundant in the foothills wherever the soil contains alkali. Various species of nutritious grasses cover much of the plains and foothills, and even clothe the apparently barren mountain peaks.
Climate.—In the lower Bighorn Valley, summer temperatures rise to 95° or 100°, but at heights of 6000 to 7000 ft. on neighbouring ranges, summer temperatures seldom rise above 90°, and frosts may occur at any time. Elevations under 6000 ft. have a mean annual temperature of from 40° to 47°, but high mountain areas and cold valleys may have mean temperatures as low as 34°. The air is clear and dry, and although temperatures of 100° are recorded, sun strokes are practically unknown. Winter temperatures as low as -51° have been recorded, but these very low temperatures occur in the valleys rather than on the higher elevations. The cold is sharp and bracing rather than disagreeable, on account of the dryness of the air; and the periods of cold weather are generally of short duration. The winter climate is remarkably pleasant as a rule, and outdoor work may usually be carried on without discomfort.
The following figures give some idea of the climatic variations. At Basin, in the Bighorn Valley, the mean winter temperature is 16°, the summer mean 72°. Thayne, on the mountainous W. border of the state, has a winter mean of 19°, and a summer mean of but 59°; Cheyenne in the S.E., has a winter mean of 27°, and a summer mean of 65°. The percentage of sunshine in the state is high. Precipitation varies in different areas from 8 to 20 in., the average for the state being 12.5 in. Wyoming thus belongs with the arid states, and irrigation is necessary for agriculture. A greater precipitation doubtless prevails on the higher mountains, but trustworthy records are not available. Spring is the wettest season. The prevailing winds are W. and reach a high velocity on the level plains.
Soil.—While some of the more arid districts have soils so strongly alkaline as to be practically unreclaimable, there are extensive areas of fertile lands which only require irrigation to make them highly productive. Alluvial deposits brought down by mountain streams, and strips of floodplain along larger streams on the plains are very fertile and well repay irrigation. Lack of water rather than poverty of soil renders most of the plains region fit for grazing only. In the mountains, ruggedness combines with thin and scattered soil to make these districts of small agricultural value.
Agriculture.—The total area in farms in 1880 was 124,433 acres, of which 83,122 acres (66.8%) were improved; in 1900 it was 8,124,536 acres, of which 792,332 acres (9.8%) were improved. The large increase in unimproved acreage in farms was principally due to the increased importance in sheep-raising. In 1909 Wyoming ranked first among the states in the number of sheep and the production of wool. The number of sheep in 1909 was 7,316,000, valued at $32,190,000, being more than one-eighth in numbers and nearly one seventh in value of all sheep in the United States. The production of wool in 1909 was 38,400,000 lb of washed and unwashed wool and 12,288,000 lb of scoured wool. The average weight per fleece was 8 lb. The Bureau of Animal Industry of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has made experiments in breeding range sheep in Wyoming. The total number of neat cattle on farms and ranges in 1910 was 986,000 (including 27,000 milch cows) valued at $26,277,000; horses, 148,000, valued at $12,284,000; mules, 2000, valued at $212,000; and swine, 21,000, valued at $178,000.
In 1909 the hay crop (alfalfa, native hay, timothy hay, &c.) was 665,000 tons, valued at $5,918,000 and raised on 277,000 acres. The cereal crops increased enormously in the decade 1899-1909. The principal cereal crop in 1909 was oats, the product of which was 3,500,000 bushels, grown on 100,000 acres and valued at $1,750,000. The wheat crop increased from 4674 bushels in 1879 to 2,297,000 bushels in 1909, grown on 80,000 acres and valued at $2,274,000. The product of Indian corn in 1909 was 140,000 bushels, grown on 5000 acres and valued at $109,000.
Mining.—The development of Wyoming's naturally rich mineral resources has been retarded by inadequate transport and by insufficient capital. The value of the slate's mineral product was $5,684,286 in 1902 and $9,453,341 in 1908. In 1908 Wyoming ranked twelfth among the states of the Union in the value of its output of bituminous coal. Other mineral products of the state are copper, gold, iron, petroleum, asbestos, soda, silver and lead, gypsum, stone and clay products. The original coal supply of the present state has been estimated (by the United States Geological Survey) at 424,085,000,000 short tons of the bituminous or sub-bituminous variety, this amount being second only to that for North Dakota, 500,000,000,000 short tons, which, however, is entirely lignite. Coal was first mined in what is now Wyoming in 1865, probably in connexion with the building of the Union Pacific railway, and the product in that year was 800 short tons. Thereafter the industry developed steadily and the product in 1908 was 5,489,902 tons, valued at $8,868,157. In 1908 (and for several years before) the largest product of coal (2,180,933 tons) came from Sweetwater county, in the S.W. of the state, and Uinta county (adjoining Sweetwater county on the W.) had the next largest product, 1,380,488 tons. Sheridan county, in the north-central part of the state, Carbon county in the south-central part and Weston county in the N.E. were the next largest producers. The product of coal to the end of 1908 was 125,000,000 short tons, or 0.029% of the estimated supply.
The mining product next in value to coal in 1908 was copper, taken chiefly in Carbon county in a zone of brecciated quartzite underlying schist, the original ore being chalcopyrite, with possibly some pyrite, a secondary enrichment, which has produced important bodies of chalcocite in the upper workings, but these are replaced by chalcopyrite at greater depth. The production in 1908 was 2,416,197 ℔, valued at $318,938. The gypsum product (from the Laramie plains) in 1908 was 31,188 tons, valued at $94,935.
There are extensive deposits of petroleum and natural gas, which have become of commercial importance. Oil has been found in eighteen different districts, the fields being known as follows:—The Carter, Hilliard, Spring Valley and Twin Creek in Uinta county; the Popo Agie, Lander, Shoshone, Beaver and a part of Dutton in Fremont county; the Rattlesnake, Arrago, Oil Mountain and a part of Dutton, Powder river and Salt Creek in Natrona county; part of Powder river and Salt Creek in Johnson county; Newcastle in Weston county; Belle Fourche in Crook county; Douglas in Converse county and Bonanza in Bighorn county. The Popo Agie and Lander fields produce the largest quantities of oil the wells being partly gushers from which a heavy fuel oil is obtained. This is now being used by the Chicago & North Western Railroad Company on its locomotives, and it is also used in Omaha (Nebraska) by manufacturing establishments. There is a great variety in the grades of oils produced in the state, ranging from the heavy asphaltic oils of the Popo Agie and Lander fields to the high-grade lubricants and superior light products obtained from the wells in the Douglas, Salt Creek and Uinta county fields. Natural gas in quantity has been found in the Douglas field and in Bighorn county.
The iron deposits are very extensive, and the ores consist of red haematites, magnetites, titanic, chrome and manganese irons. In nearly every county there are veins of iron ore of varying extent and quality, the most important being at Hartville, Laramie county. Iron Mountain, Albany county, the Seminole and Rawlins in Carbon county. The Hartville ores are remarkable for their high grade and purity, running from 60 to 70% metallic iron, with 2½ to 5% silica, and only traces of sulphur and phosphorus. The ore is a red haematite occurring in slate. The iron ore from this district obtained the grand prize at the World's Fair held in Chicago in 1893 in competition with iron ores from all parts of the world. The Hartville iron deposits are worked by the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company, which ships large quantities of ore to its furnaces at Pueblo, Colorado. The discovery of natural gas in the Douglas oil field has opened up the possibility of working a smelting plant at the mines by means of this cheap and convenient fuel. The distance to be covered by a pipe line is not prohibitive, and the matter has been under consideration by the owners and lessees of the iron mines.
There are sandstone deposits in Carbon county, which supplied the stone for the Capitol at Cheyenne and the state penitentiary; and from the Iron mountain quarries in Laramie county was taken the white variety used in building the Carnegie library and the Federal building in Cheyenne. Sandstones and quartzites were also quarried in 1902 in Albany, Crook and Uinta counties. Limestone occurs in thick formations near Lava Creek, and in the valley of the East Fork of the Yellowstone river; also near the summit of the Owl Creek range, and in the Wind River range. Gold was discovered on the Sweetwater river in 1867, and placer and quartz deposits have been found in almost every county in the state. Sulphur has been found near Cody and Thermopolis.
Irrigation.—The irrigable area of Wyoming is estimated at about 6,200,000 acres, lying chiefly in Bighorn, Sheridan and Johnson counties in the N.W. of the state, and in Laramie, Albany and Carbon counties in the S.E., though there are large tracts around the headwaters of the Bighorn river, in Fremont county in the west-central part, along the North Platte river and its tributaries in Converse county in the central part, and along the Green river and its tributaries in Sweetwater and Uinta counties in the S.W. Under the Carey Act and its amendments Congress had in 1909 given to the state about 2,000,000 acres of desert land on condition that it should be reclaimed, and in that year about 800,000 acres were in process of reclamation, mostly by private companies. Settlers intending to occupy such lands must satisfy the state that they have entered into contracts with the irrigating company for a sufficient water-right and a perpetual interest in the irrigation works. The principal undertaking of the Federal government is the Shoshone project in Bighorn county. This provides for a storage reservoir, controlled by Shoshone dam on Shoshone river, about 8 m. above Cody; a canal diverting water from Shoshone reservoir round the N. of Shoshone dam and covering lands in the vicinity of Cody, Corbett, Eagle Nest and Ralston; a dam at Corbett about 16 m. below the reservoir diverting water to Ralston reservoir and thence to lands in the vicinity of Ralston, Powell, Garland, Mantua and Frannie, and a dam on the Shoshone river near Eagle Nest diverting water into a canal covering the lands of the Shoshone River Valley. This project was authorized in 1904; it will affect, when completed, 131,900 acres, of which in 1909 about 10,000 acres were actually under irrigation. Near Douglas, in Converse county, there is a reinforced concrete dam, impounding the waters of Laprele Creek, to furnish water for over 30,000 acres, and power for transmitting electricity. There are large irrigated areas in Johnson and Sheridan counties.
Forests.—The woodland area of Wyoming in 1900 was estimated at 12,500 sq. m. (13% of the area of the state), of which the United States had reserved about 3500 sq. m. in the Yellowstone National Park and 5207 sq. m., chiefly in the Bighorn Mountains in the N., and the Medicine Bow Mountains in the S.E. of the state. The saleable timber consists almost entirely of yellow pine, though there is a relatively small growth of other conifers and of hard-wood trees.
Manufactures.—Wyoming's manufacturing industries are relatively unimportant. In the period 1900-1905 the value of factory products increased from $3,268,555 to $3,523,260; the amount of capital invested, from $2,047,883 to $2,695,889, and the number of establishments from 139 to 169; the average number of employees decreased from 2060 to 1834. In the same period (1900-1905), the value of the products of urban establishments decreased from $1,332,288 to $1,244,223, and the amount of capital invested increased from $871,531 to $988,615; but the value of the products of rural establishments increased from $1,936,267 to $2,279,037, and the capital invested from $1,176,352 to $1,707,274. The values of the products of the principal industries of the state in 1905 were: car and general shop construction and repairs by steam railway companies, $1,640,361; lumber and timber products, $426,433; flour and grist mill products, $283,653; butter, $114,354. Among other manufactures were gypsum wall-plaster, saddlery and harness, malt liquors and tobacco, cigars and cigarettes.
Transport.—There has been relatively little development of transport facilities in Wyoming. The railway mileage, which was only 459 m. in 1870, increased to 1002 m. in 1890, 1280 m. in 1905, and 1623 m. on the 1st of January 1909. The Union Pacific railway crosses the S. of the state, connects with the Oregon Short Line at Green river and extends both E. and S. from Cheyenne. The Colorado & Southern (controlled by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company) extends N. from Cheyenne to Orin Junction, where it connects with the Chicago & North Western, which runs across the south-central part of the state as far as Lander (under the name of the Wyoming & North Western railroad). Four branches of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy system enter or cross the state. One extends from Cheyenne S.E. to Holdredge, Nebraska; the main line crosses the N.E. of the state to Billings, Montana, whence it extends S. to Cody and Kirby in the Bighorn basin, Wyoming; while another branch from Alliance, Nebraska, extends to the iron mines at Guernsey. The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy was building in 1910 a new line from the N.W. to connect with the Colorado & Southern line at Orin Junction, passing through Douglas. When completed to Orin Junction this will be a main through route from the Mexican Gulf to the N.W. Pacific coast. There are also several shorter railways in the state, and various stage lines reach the more inaccessible regions.
Population.—The population in 1870 was 9118; in 1880, 20,789; in 1890, 60,705; in 1900, 92,531; in 1910, 145,965. The density of the population was 0.6 per sq. in. in 1890 and 1.5 per sq. m. in 1910, there being in this year only one state with a smaller average number of inhabitants to the sq. m., namely Nevada, with 0.7. Of the total population in 1900, 88,051, or 96.2%, were whites; 1686 were Indians; 940 were negroes; 461 were Chinese and 303 were Japanese. The Indians are all taxed. They belong to the Arapaho and Shoshoni tribes. The Wind River Reservation, under the Shoshoni School, is in the central part of the state. There were 17,415 foreign-born in the state in 1900, of whom 2596 were English, 2146 Germans, 1727 Swedes, 1591 Irish, 1253 Scotch and 1220 Finns. Of the 41,903 persons of foreign parentage (i.e. having either or both parents of foreign birth) in that year 4973 were of English, 4571 of German, and 4482 of Irish parentage, i.e. on both the father's and the mother's side. Of the 75,116 born in the United States, 19,307 were natives of Wyoming, 6112 were born in Iowa, 5009 in Nebraska, 4923 in Illinois, 4412 in Missouri and 3750 in Utah. Among the numbers of religious denominations in 1906 the Roman Catholics, with 10,264 communicants, had the largest membership, followed by the Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, with 5211 communicants (21.8% of the total church membership for the state), the Protestant Episcopalians with 1741, the Methodists with 1612 and the Presbyterians with 984. The urban population (i.e. the population of places having 4000 inhabitants or more) increased from 18,078 in 1890 to 26,657 in 1900 or 47.5%, the urban being 28.8% of the total population in 1900. The semi-urban population (i.e. population of incorporated places, or the approximate equivalent, having fewer than 4000 inhabitants) decreased in the same period from 14,910 to 12,725, and the rural population (i.e. the population outside of incorporated places) increased from 29,567 to 53,149, which was 78.7% of the total increase. The principal cities of the state (with population) in 1900 were: Cheyenne, 14,087; Laramie, 8207; Rock Springs, 4363; Rawlins, 2317, and Evanston, 2110. After 1900 the population of the centre and N. of the state increased in proportion faster than the older settled portions in the S. In 1910 Sheridan (8408) in Sheridan county, Douglas in Converse county and Lander in Fremont county were as important as some of the older towns of the southern part of the state.
Government.—Wyoming is governed under its first constitution, which was adopted in November 1889. An amendment may be proposed by either branch of the legislature. If it is approved by two-thirds of the members of each branch, it must be submitted to the people at the next general election and, if approved by a majority of the electors, it then becomes a part of the constitution. Whenever two-thirds of the members elected to each branch of the legislature vote for a convention to revise or amend the constitution and a majority of the people voting at the next general election favour it, the legislature must provide for calling a convention. Suffrage is conferred upon both men and women, and the right to vote at a general election is given to all citizens of the United States who have attained the age of twenty-one years, are able to read the constitution, and have resided in the state one year and in the county sixty days immediately preceding, with the exception of idiots, insane persons, and persons convicted of an infamous crime; at a school election the voter must also own property on which taxes are paid. General elections are held biennially, in even-numbered years, the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, and each new administration begins the first Monday in the following January.
Executive.—The governor is elected for a term of four years. He must be at least thirty years of age, and have resided in the state for five years next preceding his election. If the office becomes vacant the secretary of state becomes acting governor; there is no lieutenant-governor. The governor, with the concurrence of the Senate, appoints the attorney-general, the state engineer and the members of several boards and commissions. He has the power to veto bills, to pardon, to grant reprieves and commutations, and to remit fines and forfeitures, but the Board of Charities and Reform constitutes a Board of Pardons for investigating all applications for executive clemency and advising the governor with respect to them. The secretary of state, auditor, treasurer and superintendent of public instruction are elected for the same term as the governor.
Legislature.—The legislature consists of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The number of representatives must be not less than twice nor more than three times the number of senators. One-half the senators and all the representatives are elected every two years. Both senators and representatives are apportioned among the several counties according to their population; each county, however, is entitled to at least one senator and one representative. The legislature meets biennially, in odd-numbered years, on the second Tuesday in January, and the length of its sessions is limited to forty days. All bills for raising a revenue must originate in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose amendments. The governor has three days (Sundays excepted) in which to veto any bill or any item in an appropriation bill, and a two-thirds vote of the members elected to each house is required to override his veto.
Judiciary.—The administration of justice is vested principally in a supreme court, district courts, justices of the peace and municipal courts. The supreme court consists of three justices who are elected by the state at large for a term of eight years, and the one having the shortest term to serve is chief justice. The court has original jurisdiction in quo warranto and mandamus proceedings against state officers and in habeas corpus cases, general appellate jurisdiction, and a superintending control over the inferior courts. It holds two terms annually, at the capital, one beginning the first Monday in April and one beginning the first Monday in October. The state is divided into four judicial districts, and in each of these a district judge is elected for a term of eight years. The district courts have original jurisdiction in all actions and matters not expressly vested in some other court and appellate jurisdiction in cases arising in the lower courts. Justices of the peace, one of whom is elected biennially in each precinct, have jurisdiction in civil actions in which the amount in controversy does not exceed $200 and the title to or boundary of real estate is not involved, and in criminal actions less than a felony and in which the punishment prescribed by law does not exceed a fine of $100 and imprisonment for six months. Each incorporated city or town has a municipal court for the trial of offences arising under its ordinances.
Local Government.—A board of three commissioners is elected in each county, one for four years and one for two years at each biennial election. It has the care of the county property, manages the county business, builds and repairs the county buildings, apportions and orders the levying of taxes, and establishes the election precincts. The other county officers are a treasurer, a clerk, an attorney, a surveyor, a sheriff, a coroner and a superintendent of schools, each elected for a term of two years. A justice of the peace and a constable are elected for and by each precinct. Cities and towns are incorporated under general laws.
Miscellaneous Laws.—A married woman may hold, acquire, manage and convey property and carry on business independently of her husband. When a husband or a wife dies intestate one-half of the property of the deceased goes to the survivor; if there are no children or descendants of any child three-fourths of it goes to the survivor; if there are no children or descendants of any child and the estate does not exceed $10,000 the whole of it goes to the survivor. The causes for a divorce are adultery, incompetency, conviction of a felony and sentence to imprisonment therefor after marriage, conviction of a felony or infamous crime before marriage provided it was unknown to the other party, habitual drunkenness, extreme cruelty, intolerable indignities, neglect of the husband to provide the common necessaries of life, vagrancy of the husband and pregnancy of the wife before marriage by another man than her husband and without his knowledge. The plaintiff must reside in the state for one year immediately preceding his or her application for a divorce unless the parties were married in the state and the applicant has resided there since the marriage. Neither party is permitted to marry a third party until one year after the divorce has been granted. The desertion of a wife or of children under fifteen years of age is a felony punishable with imprisonment for not more than three years nor less than one year. The homestead of a householder who is the head of a family or of any resident of the state who has attained the age of sixty years is exempt, to the value of $1500, or 160 acres of land, from execution and attachment arising from any debt, contract or civil obligation other than taxes, purchase money or improvements, so long as it is occupied by the owner or his or her family, and the exemption inures for the benefit of a widow, widower or minor children. If the owner is married the homestead can be alienated only with the consent of both husband and wife. The family Bible, school books, a lot in a burying-ground and $500 worth of personal property are likewise exempt to any person who is entitled to a homestead exemption. A day's labour in mines and in works for the reduction of ores is limited to eight hours except in cases of emergency where life or property is in imminent danger. The sale of intoxicating liquors is licensed only in incorporated cities and towns.
Charities and Corrections.—The state charitable and penal institutions consist of the Wyoming General Hospital at Rock Springs, with one branch at Sheridan and another branch at Casper; the Big Horn Hot Springs at Thermopolis, the Wyoming State Hospital for the Insane at Evanston, the Wyoming Home for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic at Lander, the Wyoming Soldiers' and Sailors' Home near Buffalo, and the State Penitentiary at Rawlins. The general supervision and control of all these institutions is vested in the Board of Charities and Reform, consisting of the governor, the secretary of state, the treasurer, the auditor, and the superintendent of public instruction; the same officers also constitute the Board of Pardons. Convicts other than those for life are sentenced to the penitentiary for a maximum and a minimum term, and when one has served his minimum term the governor, under rules prescribed by the Hoard of Pardons, may release him on parole, but he may be returned to prison at any time upon the request of the Board of Pardons.
Education.—The administration of the common school system is vested in the state superintendent of public instruction, county superintendents and district boards. Whenever 100 freeholders request it, the county commissioners must submit to the voters of a proposed high school district the question of establishing a high school district, and each precinct giving a majority vote for it constitutes a part of such a district for establishing and maintaining a high school. All children between seven and fourteen years of age must attend a public, private or parochial school during the entire time that the public school of their district is in session unless excused by the district board. The common schools are maintained with the proceeds of school taxes and an annual income from school funds which are derived principally from lands. At the head of the educational system is the University of Wyoming (1886), at Laramie (q.v.); it is governed by a board of trustees consisting of its president, the superintendent of public instruction, and nine other members appointed by the governor with the concurrence of the Senate for a term of six years. It is maintained with the proceeds from funds derived principally from lands and with a university tax amounting in 1909 to one-half mill on a dollar.
Finance.—The principal sources of revenue are a general property tax, a tax on the gross receipts of express companies, a tax on the gross products of mines, an inheritance tax, a poll tax and the sale of liquor licences. Railways, telegraph lines and mines are assessed by the state board of equalization, which consists of the secretary of state, the treasurer and the auditor. Other property is assessed by the county assessors. The county commissioners constitute the county board of equalization. A commissioner of taxation who is appointed by the governor with the concurrence of the Senate for a term of four years exercises a general supervision over all tax officers and the boards of equalization. By a law enacted in 1909 county commissioners are forbidden to levy a tax which will yield more than 10% in excess of that raised the preceding year. The constitution limits the state tax for other than the support of educational and charitable institutions and the payment of the state debt and the interest thereon to four mills on the dollar; the county tax for other than the payment of the county debt and the interest thereon to twelve mills on the dollar; the tax of an incorporated city or town for other than the payment of its debt and the interest thereon to eight mills on the dollar. The constitution also forbids the creation of a state debt in excess of 1% of the assessed value of the taxable property in the state; of a county debt in excess of 2% of the assessed value of the taxable property in the county; or of a municipal debt for any other purpose than obtaining a water supply in excess of 2%, unless for building sewerage, when a debt of 4% may be authorized. Wyoming entered the Union with a bonded indebtedness of $320,000. This has been reduced as rapidly as the bonds permit, and on the 30th of June 1910 the debt was only $140,000.
History.—Spanish historians have claimed that adventurers from the Spanish settlements in the S. penetrated almost to the Missouri river during the first half of the 17th century and even formed settlements within the present limits of Wyoming, but these stories are more than doubtful. The first white men certainly known to have traversed the region were Sieur de la Verendrye and his sons, who working down from Canada spent a part of the year 1743-1744 examining the possibilities of the fur trade. Apparently no further French explorations were made from that direction, and the transfer of Canada from France to Great Britain (1763) was followed by lessened interest in exploration. The expedition of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in 1804-1806 did not touch the region, but a discharged member of the party, John Colter, in 1807 discovered the Yellowstone Park region and then crossed the Rocky Mountains to the head of Green river. Trappers began to cover the N. portion about the same time, and in 1811 the overland party of the Pacific Fur Company crossed the country on their way to Astoria. In 1824 William H. Ashley with a considerable party explored and trapped in the Sweetwater and Green river valleys, and in 1826 wagons were driven from St Louis to Wind river for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. Captain B. L. E. Bonneville was the first to cross the Rockies with wagons (1832), and two years later Fort Laramie, near the mouth of the Laramie river, was established to control the fur trade of the Arapahoes, Cheyennes and Sioux.
The United States exploring expedition, commanded by John Charles Frémont, explored the Wind River Mountains and the South Pass in 1842, under the guidance of Kit Carson. From this time the favourite route to the Pacific led through Wyoming, but of all the thousands who passed few or none settled permanently within the present limits of the state, partly because of the aridity of the land and partly because of the pronounced hostility of the Indians. For the latter reason the National Congress on the 19th of May 1846 authorized the construction at intervals along the trail of military stations for the protection of the emigrant trains, and Fort Kearny was built (1848) and Fort Laramie was purchased (1849). The great Mormon migration passed along the trail in 1847-1849, and in 1853 fifty-five Mormons settled on Green river at the trading post of James Bridger, which they purchased and named Fort Supply. This S.W. corner of the present state was at that time a part of Utah. With the approach of United States troops under Albert Sidney Johnston in 1857, Fort Supply was abandoned, and in the next year the Mormon settlers retired to Salt Lake City' again leaving the region almost without permanent inhabitants.
The Indians saw with alarm the movement of so many whites through their hunting grounds and became increasingly unfriendly. By a treaty negotiated at Fort Laramie in 1851, the Arapahoes, Sioux, Cheyennes and others agreed to confine themselves within the territory bounded by 100° and 107° W. longitude and 39° and 44° N. latitude, but, besides minor conflicts, a considerable portion of the garrison of Fort Laramie was killed in 1854 and there was trouble for more than twenty years. During the Civil War (1861-1865) the Indians were especially bold as they realized that the Federal troops were needed elsewhere. Meanwhile, there began a considerable migration to Montana, and the protection of the N. of the trail demanded the construction of posts, of which the most important were Fort Reno, on the Powder river, and Fort Phil Kearny in the Bighorn Mountains. In spite of the treaty allowing the opening of the road, during a period of six months fifty-one hostile demonstrations were made, and on the 21st of December 1866 Captain W. J. Fetterman and seventy-eight men from Fort Phil Kearny were ambushed and slain. Hostilities continued in 1867, but the troops were hampered on account of the scarcity of cavalry. Congress in 1867 appointed a commission to arrange a peace, but not until 1868 (29th April, at Fort Laramie) were any terms agreed upon. The posts on the Montana trail were abandoned, and the Indians agreed to remove farther E. and to cease attacking trains, not to oppose railway construction, &c. The territory N. of the Platte river and E. of the Bighorn Mountains was to be reserved as an Indian hunting ground and no white men were to settle on it without the consent of the Indians. Gold was discovered on the Sweetwater river in 1867, and a large inrush of population followed. This unorganized territory E. of the Rocky Mountains was a part of Dakota, and in January 1868 Carter (later Sweetwater) county was erected. Farther E. Cheyenne was laid out by the Union Pacific Railroad (July 1867), a city government was established in August, newspapers began publication, and Laramie county was organized before the arrival of the first railway train on the 13th of November 1867. About six thousand persons spent the winter in Cheyenne, and disorder was checked only by the organization of a vigilance committee. Almost the same scenes followed the laying off of Laramie in April 1868, when 400 lots were sold during the first week and 500 habitations were erected within a fortnight. Albany and Carbon counties were organized farther W. in the same year.
A bill to organize the Territory of Wyoming had been introduced into Congress in 1865, and in 1867 the voters of Laramie county had chosen a delegate to Congress. He was not permitted to take a seat, but his presence in Washington hastened action, and on the 25th of July 1868 the act of Congress establishing a Territory with the present boundaries was approved by President Andrew Johnson. The portion of the Territory E. of the Rocky Mountains was taken from Dakota and that W. from Utah and Idaho, and included parts of the three great additions to the original territory of the United States. That portion E. of the mountains was a part of the Louisiana Purchase (1803), the W. portion above 42° was a part of the Oregon country, and that S. of that parallel came by the Mexican cession of 1848. The first governor, John A. Campbell, was appointed in April 1869, and the organization of the Territory was completed in May of the same year. At the first election, on the 2nd of September 1869, 5266 votes were cast. The legislature established the seat of government at Cheyenne, and granted full suffrage and the right of holding office to women. The first great inrush of population, following the discovery of gold and the opening of the railway, brought many desperate characters, who were held in check only by the stern, swift measures of frontier justice. After the organization of the Territory, except for the appearance of organized bands of highwaymen in 1877-1879, there was little turbulence, in marked contrast with conditions in some of the neighbouring Territories. Agriculture began in the narrow but fertile river valleys, and stock-raising became an important industry, as the native grasses are especially nutritious. The history of the Territory was marked by few striking events other than Indian troubles. The N.E. of the Territory, as has been already said, had been set apart (1868) as a hunting ground for the Sioux Indians, but the rumour of the discovery of gold in the Black Hills and the Bighorn Mountains in 1874-1875 caused a rush to the region which the military seemed powerless to prevent. The resentful Indians resorted to war. After a long and arduous contest in Wyoming, Montana and Dakota, which lasted from 1874 to 1879, and during which General George A. Custer (q.v.) and his command were killed in 1876 on the Little Bighorn in Montana, the Indians were thoroughly subdued and confined to reservations. The settlers in Wyoming shared the general antipathy to the Chinese, common to the western country. On the 2nd of September 1885 the miners at Rock Springs attacked about 400 Chinamen who had been brought by the railway to work in the mines, killing about fifty of them and driving the remainder from the district. Governor Warren summoned Federal troops and prevented further destruction of life and property.
The Territory increased in population and more rapidly in wealth, owing chiefly to the large profits in cattle raising, though this prosperity suffered a check during the severe winter of 1886-1887, when nearly three-fourths of the range cattle died of exposure. Agitation for statehood increased, and on the 30th of September 1889 a constitution was formed which was adopted by the people in November of the same year. The Constitution, which continued the Territorial provision of full suffrage for women, met the approval of Congress, and on the 10th of July 1890 Wyoming was formally admitted as a state. Since admission the progress of the state has been steady. Extensive irrigation projects have made available many thousand acres of fertile land, and much more will be subjected to cultivation in the future as the large ranges are broken up into smaller tracts. In some sections a system of dry-farming, by which the scanty rainfall is protected from evaporation by deep ploughing and mulching the soil, has proved profitable.
The transition of the principal stock-raising industry from large herds of cattle to small, and the utilization of the ranges for sheep grazing almost exclusively covered a period of over twenty years preceding 1910, during which time many conflicts occurred between range cattle-owners and sheep flock masters over the use of the grazing grounds. The settler also, who selected his homestead covering watering places to which the range cattle formerly had free access, came into conflict with the cattlemen. Some of these small settlers owned no cattle, and subsisted by stealing calves and imbranded cattle (mavericks) belonging to the range cattlemen. In parts of the state it became impossible to get a jury composed of these small squatters to convict anybody for stealing or killing cattle, and so bad did this become that, in 1892, certain cattlemen formed a small army of mounted men and invaded the central part of the state with the avowed intention of killing all the men generally considered to be stock thieves, an episode known as the Johnson County Raid. This armed body, consisting of over fifty men, surrounded a log cabin and shot down two of the supposed cattle “rustlers,” the latter defending themselves bravely. The country round was roused and large numbers of settlers and others turned out and besieged the cattlemen, who had taken refuge in some ranch buildings. Their case was becoming desperate when a troop of Federal cavalry arrived, raised the siege, and took the cattlemen back to Cheyenne as prisoners. They were subsequently held for murder, but were finally released without trial. Since that time experience has proved that the grazing ranges of the state are better suited to sheep than cattle, the former being much more profitable and better able to stand the cold on the open range. While many cattlemen have been driven out of business by the encroachments of sheep, the majority of the present flockmasters were range cattle owners in the past and have changed to the more profitable occupation. At the present time serious collisions between sheep and cattle owners are rare. There are still many cattle in the state, but they are divided up into small herds, no longer depending upon the open range for a precarious subsistence during the winter, but are sheltered and fed during winter storms on the hay ranches. The breeds of cattle are far superior now to the old range stock, so that it pays to take care of them, many thousands are fed during the winter on alfalfa hay.
|Governors of Wyoming|
|John A. Campbell||1869-1875|
|John M. Thayer||1875-1878|
|John W. Hoyt||1878-1882|
|Francis E. Warren||1885-1886|
|George W. Baxter (acting)||1886-1887|
|Francis E. Warren||1889-1890|
|Francis E. Warren||Republican||1890|
|Amos W Barber (acting)||”||1890-1892|
|J. E. Osborne||Dem.-Populist||1892-1895|
|W. A. Richards||Republican||1895-1899|
|De Forest Richards||”||1899-1903|
|Fenimore Chatterton (acting)||”||1903-1905|
|Bryant B. Brooks||”||1905-1911|
|J. M. Carey||Democrat||1911-|
by the State Geologist (Cheyenne, 1904), and “Geology and Mineral Resources of Wyoming,” pp. 113-118 of Rept. of Proc. Am. Mining Cong., 7th Ann. Sess. (1905), a general account of the geology and mineral resources of Wyoming; C. A. White, “Geology and Physiography of a portion of North-western Colorado and adjacent parts of Utah and Wyoming,” pp. 677-712 of 9th Ann. Rept., U.S. Geol. Survey, 1887-1888 (Washington, 1889); F. E. Mathes, “Glacial Sculpture of Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming,” pp. 167-190 of Pt. ii. of 21st Ann. Rept. U.S. Geol. Survey, 1899-1900 (Washington, 1900); N. H. Darton, “Preliminary Description of the Geology and Water Resources of the Southern Half of the Black Hills and adjoining regions in South Dakota and Wyoming,” pp. 489-599 of Pt. iv. of 21st Ann. Rept. U.S. Geol. Survey, 1899-1900 (Washington, 1901); A. C. Spencer, “Mineral Resources of the Encampment Copper Region, Wyoming,” pp. 163-169, U.S. Geol. Survey Bull. No. 213 (Washington, 1903); Mineral Resources of the United States published annually by the U.S. Geological Survey; and material indexed in the various bibliographies (e.g. Bulls. 301, 372 and 409) of the U.S. Geological Survey; Aven Nelson, Report on the Flora of Wyoming, Wyoming Experiment Station, Bull. 28 (1896); A. J. Henry, Climatology of the United States, U.S. Weather Bureau Bull. Q (Washington, 1906); for industries, population, &c., the Reports of the U.S. Census generally; Department of Immigration of the state, Some Views of Wyoming (1908); The State of Wyoming, published by authority of the state legislature (1908); F. Chatterton, secretary of state, The State of Wyoming (1904); and reports of the various state officers mentioned in the text; Revised Statutes of Wyoming (Laramie, 1899); Wyoming Irrigation Laws (1908); G. R. Hebard, Government of Wyoming (San Francisco, 1904); H. H. Bancroft, Nevada, Colorado and Wyoming (San Francisco, 1890), and Utah (San Francisco, 1889); E. R. Talbot, My People of the Plains (New York, 1906); W. M. Raine, Wyoming, a Story of the Outdoor West (New York, 1909). An interesting picture of former conditions in Wyomingis given in Owen Wister's novel, The Virginian (1902).
|Carl Hentschel Ltd, sc.|
- The breed of horses in Wyoming has improved rapidly; in 1904, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture purchased eighteen mares and a stallion in hope of improving the American carriage horse, six of the mares were from Wyoming and were principally of Morgan stocks.
- That is, those in the two municipalities (Cheyenne and Laramie) having a population in 1900 of more than 8000.
- The Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1909 gives 854 Arapaho and 816 Shoshoni under the Shoshoni School.
- See Washington Irving, Adventures of Captain Bonneville (New York, 1860).
- See Francis Parkman, The Oregon Trail (Boston, 1849).
- In place of De Forest Richards, deceased.