Wyoming is nicknamed the Equality State. (Read the “What really happened” section to learn why). It’s surrounded by Montana on the north, South Dakota and Nebraska on the east, Idaho on the west, and Colorado and Utah to the south.
Although Wyoming is the 10th largest state in the US, it has the smallest population of any state in the country. In June 2022, it reported 581,813 people, to be exact. Compare that with another state called California. More people live in California (almost 40 million!) than any other state in this country.
What really happened
- At least 12,000 years ago, people lived here, out on the wide open plains. An ancient 245-foot shrine was discovered near Lovell, Wyoming, that may have been used for important ceremonies. Thousands of years later, the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Crow, Shoshone and Ute Native American tribes lived on the land.
- Wyoming was once part of four countries. The Spanish Empire first claimed the Southwest portion of the state. Then Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1810 and the land became Mexican territory. In 1846, England officially surrendered the Oregon Territory to the United States, which included areas in the northwestern corner of Wyoming. Two years later, the US defeated Mexico in the Mexican-American War and surrendered the territory to the US.
- Although Wyoming became a US territory in 1868, the US calvary (army) and Native Americans battled for control of the land. The territory was formed from portions of the Dakota, Utah and Idaho In 1890, Congress declared Wyoming the 44th state.
- During the 1880s, Cheyenne, Wyoming was the wealthiest city in the country (and possibly the world) due to its successful cattle industry and the Gold Rush.
- Wyoming was the first state to give women the right to vote. Some historians believe that lawmakers passed that bill to draw new settlers to the state. That’s part of the reason why the state was nicknamed the “Equality State”.
- It was also the first state to have a female governor. Nellie Tayloe Ross, who was the wife of Governor William Bradford Ross, finished her husband’s term from 1925 to 1927 after he died. She served as the 14th governor of the state, and to this day, served as the only female governor in Wyoming’s history.
- Wyoming is one of the few states that has plenty of fossils. In the mid-1800s, the state became a popular place for hunters who were looking for dinosaur bones. There were so many that a cabin was constructed in the late 19th century using bone fragments. That cabin remains standing to this day.
Stuff you should know
- There are 32 named islands within the borders of Wyoming state. Most are found in Yellowstone Lake, Jackson Hole and Green River. Some of those islands are uninhabited like Stevenson Island in Yellowstone Lake.
- Wyoming has the lowest population of any US state.
- The high-altitude and geography of Wyoming make it an excellent place for wind power. It has the largest industrial wind production facility in the country called the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Energy project.
- People who live in Wyoming are called Wyomingites.
Crazy, funny, or just plain weird
- The Shoshone Indians who lived in Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and Idaho believed that “little people” who were between 20 inches and 3 feet tall, attacked them with miniature bows and poisonous arrows. Could this be true? A 14 inch mummy was discovered in the San Pedro Mountains in 1932 by two gold prospectors. When dynamite was used to blast the mountainside, a cave was discovered with a 6 ½ foot mummy. Anthropologists determined that the mummy was a 65-year-old adult. What do you believe?
- In 1994, the Green River City Council reserved a small airfield or dirt landing strip for aliens from Jupiter. At the time, council members thought anyone living on the planet could be in danger because Jupiter was being hit by comets or meteors. If the ETs ever needed to escape and leave their planet or home, this airfield would be a safe place for them to land. Its name is: The Greater Green River Intergalactic Spaceport.
- In 2022, researchers discovered the remains of a new type of prehistoric sea creature in eastern Wyoming. Its name – Serpentisuchops–translates to “snakey crocodile-face”. It’s described as a “beast that swam the seas while dinosaurs walked the earth 70 million years ago”. The creature had both a long serpentine neck and long crocodile-like jaws.
- Since the 1970s, there have been 28 reported sightings in Wyoming of a tall, muscular creature, covered in dark hair, with long arms, leaving behind huge footprints. Some call the creature Bigfoot. Others call him Sasquatch. (In chapter 24, Mo and Finchy actually meet Was he hairy and scary or a nice guy? You’ll have to read the chapter to find out!)
Tell me more
- Wyoming draws millions of tourists each year to its seven national parks. This includes Yellowstone, which features the Old Faithful geyserand the largest hot spring in the U.S.; and Devils Tower, a rock formation sacred to the Plains Tribes, which was declared the first national monument by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906.
- Wyoming is also called the Cowboy State and home to the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and Western festival.
- In 1939, portions of northern Wyoming attempted to join portions of South Dakota and Montana in an attempt to form a new state called “Absaroka.” Sheridan, Wyoming was the planned capital, a state license plate was created, and a “Miss Absaroka” was even named!
- Ever eat a bison burger? That’s one of the state’s most popular foods. Compared to beef burgers, it has less calories, less fat, and more protein.
- While the majority of people in the state speak English, seven other languages are also spoken: Spanish, German, French, Russian and Greek. Can you guess who speaks the other two languages–Tagalog and Algonquian?
Have an interesting fact or story about Wyoming that you’d like to tell us about? Email it to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll share it on social media with your first name, age and the state you live in!