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The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Wyoming

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WYOMING, a territory of the United States, situated between lat. 41° and 45° N., and lon. 104° and 111° W., forming nearly a perfect quadrangle; length E. and W. about 350 m., breadth about 275 m.; area, 97,883 sq. m. It is bounded N. by Montana, E. by Dakota and Nebraska, S. by Colorado and Utah, and W. by Utah, Idaho, and Montana. It is divided into seven counties, viz.: Albany, Carbon, Crook, Laramie, Pease, Sweetwater, and Uintah. The principal places, all of which are small, are Cheyenne, the capital, in Laramie co.; Laramie City and Sherman, Albany co.; Rawlins and Carbon, Carbon co.; South Pass City, Rock Springs, Green River City, and Atlantic City, Sweetwater co.; and Evanston, Uintah co.; all, except South Pass City and Atlantic City, on the Union Pacific railroad. The population in 1870 was 9,118, including 183 colored persons, 143 Chinese, and 66 non-tribal Indians; in 1875, estimated by the governor at 24,000. Of the inhabitants in 1870, 5,605 were native and 3,513 foreign born, 7,219 males and 1,899 females. Of the natives, 293 were born in the territory, 985 in New York, 627 in Pennsylvania, 547 in Ohio, 404 in Illinois, and 319 in Missouri. Of the foreigners, 1,976 were natives of the British isles, including 1,102 Irish, and 652 of Germany. There were 449 males and 407 females between 5 and 18 years of age, 6,056 males from 18 to 45, and 6,107 males 21 years old and upward. The number of families was 2,248, with an average of 4.06 persons to each; of dwellings, 2,379, with an average of 3.83 to each. Of persons 10 years old and upward, 468 could not read and 602 could not write; 6,645 were returned as engaged in all occupations, of whom 165 were employed in agriculture, 3,170 in professional and personal services, 1,646 in trade and transportation, and 1,664 in manufactures and mining. There are about 1,800 Shoshone Indians occupying a reservation of 1,520,000 acres in the W. part of the territory, who maintain tribal relations.—The surface of Wyoming is high and mountainous, the mean elevation being 6,450 ft. The main chain of the Rocky mountains extends across it S. E. and N. W., entering from Colorado W. of the 105th meridian and passing out at the N. W. corner. Much the larger part of the territory lies N. E. of the “divide.” The principal ranges are the Wind River mountains, in the N. W.; the Big Horn mountains, N. of the centre; the Black hills in the N. E.; the Laramie mountains S. W. of these, and still further S. the Medicine Bow mountains, on the Colorado border; the Bishop mountains, W. of the main chain and also on the border; and the Rattlesnake hills and Sweetwater mountains, in the central portion of the territory, the former N. and the latter on both sides of the Sweetwater river. Fremont's peak, the loftiest summit of the Wind River mountains, about lat, 43° 15', lon. 110°, is 13,570 ft. high. The Laramie mountains form the E. boundary of the Laramie plains. Laramie peak is about 10,000 ft, high. The Laramie plains have a length N. W. and S. E. of 90 m. and an average breadth of 75 m., comprising an area of nearly 7,000 sq. m., with an average elevation of 7,000 ft. They are bounded N. W. by the Rattlesnake hills and S. by the Medicine Bow mountains, and are drained chiefly by the Laramie and Medicine Bow rivers. The surface varies in character and elevation, some portions consisting of beautiful meadow expanses, while others are rolling and hilly, with little vegetation. The Black hills (partly belonging to Wyoming and partly to Dakota) lie between the N. and S. forks of the Cheyenne river, a tributary of the Missouri, chiefly in Dakota, and between the 43d and 45th parallels and the 103d and 105th meridians, extending N. and S. about 100 m., with a breadth of from 40 to 60 m. The base has an elevation of from 2,500 to 3,000 ft., while the peaks rise to a height of from 6,000 to 7,000 ft. A greater quantity of rain falls here than in the sur- rounding plains, and the hills are well wooded, chiefly with pine. Valuable pastures exist, and there is considerable arable land. Gold has recently been discovered. Unsuccessful attempts have been made to extinguish the Indian title to the Black hills, but large numbers of miners are now (1876) flocking thither.—The S. W. portion of the territory is drained by the Green river, the chief constituent of the Colorado of the West; a small area on the N. W. border by the Snake; and the rest by tributaries of the Missouri. The Big Horn (called in its upper course Wind river), Tongue, and Powder rivers, in order from the west, flow N. and join the Yellowstone in Montana. The Big Horn and Powder have important tributaries. In the N. E. corner is the Little Missouri, which flows N. E. through the S. E. corner of Montana, and joins the Missouri in Dakota. Further S. are the forks of the Cheyenne, which have an E. course into Dakota. S. of these is the North Platte, which rises in the North park in Colorado, flows N., and in Wyoming receives the Medicine Bow river from the east and the Sweetwater (rising in the Wind River mountains) from the west, and then (S. of the centre of the territory) bends to the east and southeast and enters Nebraska. Near the Nebraska boundary it receives the Laramie river with its tributary, Chugwater creek, from the south, and Rawhide creek from the north. In the southeast are some streams that join the South Platte in Colorado.—


AmCyc Wyoming - Yellowstone map.jpg

Map of the Yellowstone National Park.


In the N. W. corner of the territory is a tract more remarkable for natural curiosities than an equal area in any other portion of the globe, which might properly be called the “Northern Wonderland,” in contradistinction to a similar region in New Zealand known as the “Southern Wonderland.” It was first definitely brought to notice by a party of surveyors from Helena, Montana, in 1869. In 1870 an expedition under the direction of the surveyor general of that territory visited the region, and in 1871 Prof. Hayden at the head of a scientific corps made a careful exploration of its most remarkable features. His report induced congress to pass an act, approved March 1, 1872, by which the district, now known as the Yellowstone national park, was “reserved and withdrawn from settlement, occupancy, or sale under the laws of the United States, and dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people,” and was placed under the exclusive control of the secretary of the interior. The park lies mostly between lat. 44° and 45° and lon. 110° and 111°, extending on the west into Montana. It is 65 m. N. and S. by 55 m. E. and W., comprising 3,575 sq. m., and is all more than 6,000 ft. high. Yellowstone lake (22 by 15 m. in extent) has an altitude of 7,788 ft. The mountain ranges that hem in the valleys on every side rise to the height of 10,000 and 12,000 ft., and are covered with perpetual snow. During June, July, and August the atmosphere is pure and very invigorating, with scarcely any rain, and storms of any kind are rare; but the thermometer frequently falls as low as 25°, and there is frost every month of the year. The entire region was at a comparatively modern geological period the scene of remarkable volcanic activity. The most striking features of the park are its geysers, hot springs, waterfalls, and cañons. In the number and magnitude of its hot springs and geysers it surpasses all the rest of the world. There are probably 50 geysers that throw a column of water to a height of from 50 to 200 ft., and from 5,000 to 10,000 springs, chiefly of two kinds, those depositing lime and those depositing silica. There is every variety of beautiful color, and the deposits form around their borders the most elaborate ornamentation. The temperature of the calcareous springs is from 160° to 170°; that of the others rises to 200° or more. The principal collections are the upper and lower geyser basins of the Madison river and the calcareous springs on Gardiner's river. (See Geysers.) The grand cañon of the Yellowstone, Great falls, 350 ft. or more in height, Tower falls, &c., are very remarkable. The park is also one of the most interesting geographical localities in North America, having within its limits or in its vicinity the sources of vast rivers flowing in various directions. On the N. side are the sources of the Yellowstone; on the W. those of the principal forks of the Missouri; on the S. W. and S. those of Snake river, flowing into the Columbia and through it into the Pacific ocean, and those of Green river, a branch of the great Colorado, which empties into the gulf of California; while on the S. E. side are the numerous head waters of Wind river.—The geological formations of Wyoming are varied, though not minutely known, including the tertiary, cretaceous, eozoic, Cambrian and Silurian, triassic and Jurassic, and volcanic. Its mineral resources have been but slightly developed. An abundance of iron ore is known to exist, and considerable quantities of pure red hematite have been shipped from Rawlins to Utah, to be used as a flux in the smelting of argentiferous lead ores. The manufacture of iron or steel has hitherto been prevented by the lack of a suitable metallurgical fuel. The extensive coal beds of the territory furnish a fine lignite (probably tertiary in age), which has not yet been successfully coked. It is used as domestic fuel, and for the manufacture of gas and the generation of steam. The principal localities where it is mined are Carbon, Rock Springs, and Evanston. The chief companies are controlled and most of the product is consumed by the Union and Central Pacific railroads. Mining commenced in the latter part of 1868, and down to the end of 1874 the aggregate product was about 1,000,000 tons (of 2,000 lbs.). In 1875 it was about 300,000 tons. The Sweetwater district, in Sweetwater co., about 12 m. N. of the South pass on the old California overland route, contains gold diggings (in gulches) of limited extent, and a considerable number of auriferous quartz veins, a few of which have been successfully worked for short periods. The mountains W. of Laramie City have been the scene of numerous discoveries and some activity in mining. But the product of gold has not been large, probably not over $100,000 per annum since 1869, when operations may be said to have commenced. Recently important developments in gold-quartz mining have been reported from the neighborhood of Laramie City. Veins of copper, gold, and silver have been found in the hills 20 m. N. W. of Cheyenne. Lead, plumbago, and petroleum also occur. About 65 m. from Rawlins are two lakes containing great quantities of soda, the larger covering about 200 acres and the smaller about 3½ acres.—The climate varies with the altitude, being severe on the higher mountains and comparatively mild in the sheltered valleys. The air is pure and bracing. But little rain falls. The mean temperature at Cheyenne (lat. 41° 12', lon. 104° 42', altitude 6,058 ft.) from Oct. 1, 1871, to Sept. 30, 1872, was 44.2°; total rainfall, 14.155 inches. The mean temperature of August, the warmest month, was 65.1°; of January, the coldest, 26.6°. From July 1, 1874, to June 30, 1875, the mean temperature at the same place was 43.6°; total rainfall, 8 inches. The mean temperature of July, the warmest month, was 71.8°; of January, the coldest, 12.5°; maximum observed, 98° (in July); minimum, -38° (in January). The soil in the valleys of the streams and along the bases of many of the mountain ranges is fertile, and where irrigation is practicable wheat, oats, rye, barley, and various vegetables yield well. The uplands produce nutritious grasses, upon which cattle and horses graze throughout the year without shelter. The arable lands are limited in extent, but large portions of the territory are admirably adapted to the raising of horses, cattle, and sheep. Timber is found chiefly in the mountains and at the heads of the streams. In the mountains the principal varieties are pine, cedar, fir, and hemlock; on the streams, cottonwood and quaking asp. In 1870 there were only 4,341 acres of land in farms, of which but 338 were improved; estimated value of all farm productions, including betterments and additions to stock, $42,760; value of all live stock, $441,795. The principal productions were 30,000 lbs. of wool and 3,180 tons of hay. There were on farms 584 horses, 283 mules and asses, 707 milch cows, 922 working oxen, 9,501 other cattle, 6,409 sheep, and 146 swine; besides which there were 3,169 horses and 25,342 neat cattle not on farms. There were 32 manufacturing establishments, employing 502 hands; capital invested, $889,400; value of products, $765,424. There are about 490 m. of railroad in the territory, viz.: Union Pacific, 480 m., and Denver Pacific, 10 m. The former passes through the S. portion from E. to W., and at Sherman attains its greatest elevation, about 8,240 ft.; the latter extends from Cheyenne to Denver, Colorado, 106 m. There are two national banks, with a joint capital of $125,000.—The governor and secretary are appointed by the president with the consent of the senate for four years. A treasurer, auditor, and territorial librarian are appointed by the governor with the consent of the council for two years. The legislature consists of a council of 13 members and a house of representatives of 27 members, elected for two years, and holds biennial sessions. The judicial power is vested in a supremo court, three district courts, a probate court for each county, and justices of the peace. The supreme court has appellate jurisdiction, and consists of a chief justice and two associates, appointed by the president with the consent of the senate for four years. The district courts have general original jurisdiction, and are held by a single judge of the supreme court. The probate judges are elected in the respective counties for two years. A territorial act of Dec. 10, 1869, extended the right to vote and hold office to women. The assessed value of property in 1870 was $5,516,748 ($863,665 real estate and $4,653,083 personal property); true value, $7,016,748; total taxation, $34,471 ($6,163 territorial and $28,308 county). The assessed value of property in 1875 was $8,684,000; territorial taxation thereon, $26,052 24, besides which there is a poll tax of $2 on each person 21 years old and upward. The territorial finances for the two years 1873-'5 were as follows: on hand at the beginning of the period, $3,907 02; receipts, $36,485 08; expenditures, $30,805 74; balance, $8,776 37. There is no territorial debt. The territorial librarian is ex officio superintendent of public instruction. A county superintendent is elected in each county for two years, and three directors are elected annually in each school district. The public schools are free to all between 7 and 21 years of age. A tax of two mills on the dollar is annually levied in each county for school purposes. In 1875 there were 13 public school houses, 7 male teachers, 16 female teachers, and 1,222 pupils enrolled; total amount paid for teachers' wages, $16,400; total value of school houses and furniture, $32,500. According to the census of 1870, there were six newspapers (two daily and four weekly), issuing 243,300 copies annually, and having a circulation of 1,950; and 31 libraries, with 2,603 volumes, of which 20, with 1,500 volumes, were private. There are now (1876) 16 churches (2 Baptist, 1 Congregational, 3 Episcopal, 2 Methodist, 4 Presbyterian, and 4 Roman Catholic), with more than 4,500 sittings and property to the value of $50,000.—The territory of Wyoming was organized by the act of July 25, 1868, from portions of Dakota, Idaho, and Utah. The first settlements within its limits were made in 1867, during the progress of the Union Pacific railroad.