The legend begins long before the cowboys came to the frontier. The Crow, Shoshone, Cheyenne and Lakota, were but a few of the original inhabitants that Anglo explorers first encountered. John Colter, a member of the 1804 Lewis and Clark Expedition, was prohaps the first white American to enter the region in 1807. Colter, born in Virginia grew to become an avid hunter and mountain man. French-Canadian trappers ventured into the
Wyoming state in the late 18th century, leaving French toponyms such as Téton and La Ramie, though it would be Colter that would map the area and report on what today is known as
Yellowstone National Park. Colter as a guide for a newly form business, the Missouri Fur Trading Company ventured on his own with pack and rifle. It the spring of 1808, he return to Fort Raymond describing the thermal wonders of Yellowstone, though most were skeptical of his story and Yellowstone would be known as "Colter's Hell." Although while often believed Colter's stories to be myth, two expeditions and decades later, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Act of Dedication law that created Yellowstone as a National Park, the first in the nation and the beginnings of what would later become the National Park Service.
John Colter, painting by
The western frontier was attracting new migration of pioneers. Earlier on the mountain men who operated fur trade came to the territory. By 1836, settlers and wagon freighters cross the area as an early route of the Oregon Trail. Mormons began passing through Wyoming on their way to Utah and other pioneers followed seeking new lands, gold, silver and other opportunities. An estimate of 350,000 pioneers crossed the area from 1841 to 1860.
Clashes between the new pioneers and Native American Indians, the US Government established Forts to protect the emigrants. Fort Laramie originally an outpost to protect fur traders would house 350 soldiers by 1849. The need for beef to feed the Army and growing populations would motivate early trail drives to the area, though raising cattle locally would become profitable.
Seth Ward, a sutler to Fort Laramie, left cattle out to graze the open range in the winter of 1852-53 along Chugwater Creek north of what is now Cheyenne. He expected to find carcasses in the spring. Yet when he returned he found “the oxen,” as he called them, thriving.
The region had acquired the name Wyoming by 1865, when Representative J. M. Ashley of Ohio introduced a bill to Congress to provide a "temporary government for the territory of Wyoming". The name Wyoming derives from the Munsee name xwé:wamənk, meaning "at the big river flat", but it was also named after the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania, made famous by the 1809 poem Gertrude of Wyoming by Thomas Campbell.
On Susquehanna's side, fair Wyoming!
Although the wild-flower on thy ruin'd wall,
And roofless homes, a sad remembrance bring,
Of what thy gentle people did befall;
Yet thou wert once the loveliest land of all
That see the Atlantic wave their morn restore.
Sweet land! may I thy lost delights recall,
And paint thy Gertrude in her bowers of yore,
Whose beauty was the love of Pennsylvania's shore!
After the Union Pacific Railroad had reached the town of Cheyenne in 1867, the region's population began to grow steadily, and the federal government established the Wyoming Territory on July 25, 1868.
On December 10, 1869, territorial Governor John Allen Campbell extended the right to vote to women, making Wyoming the first territory and then U.S. state to grant suffrage to women. In addition, Wyoming was also a pioneer in welcoming women into politics. Women first served on juries in Wyoming (Laramie in 1870); Wyoming had the first female court bailiff Mary Atkinson, Laramie, in 1870); and the first female justice of the peace in the country Esther Hobart Morris, South Pass City, in 1870). Also, in 1924, Wyoming became the first state to elect a female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, who took office in January 1925. In fact, Wyoming and Texas both elected female governors at the same time, but Wyoming's took office sixteen days before Texas's. Due to its civil-rights history, Wyoming's state nickname is "The Equality State", and the official state motto is "Equal Rights."
Wyoming was the location of the Johnson County War of 1892, on which the controversial 1980 film Heaven's Gate was based, which erupted between competing groups of cattle ranchers. The passage of the federal Homestead Act led to an influx of small ranchers. A range war broke out when either or both of the groups chose violent conflict over commercial competition in the use of the public land.
The Daddy of them all - The Cheyenne Frontier Days has received the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year award for the fourteenth time at a National Finals Rodeo award banquet held in Las Vegas, Nevada.
n 1947, while the jet age was still in its infancy, military
aviation was hurtled into the future with the creation of the U.S. Air
Force as a separate service. Just six years later, on May 25, 1953, the
Air Force’s official air demonstration team, designated the 3600th Air
Demonstration Unit, was activated at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The unit
adopted the name “Thunderbirds,” influenced in part by the strong
Native American culture and folklore from the southwestern United States
where Luke Air Force Base is located. That same year, they made the first public appearance at the Cheyenne Frontier Days.
Air Force Thunderbirds
|Cheyenne Frontier Day's Youth Chuck Wagon Cook-Off|
Seth Ward, a sutler to Fort Laramie, left cattle out to graze the open range in the winter of 1852-53 along Chugwater Creek north of what is now Cheyenne. He expected to find carcasses in the spring. Yet when he returned he found “the oxen,” as he called them, thriving. - See more at: http://www.wyohistory.org/essays/wyoming-cattle-boom#sthash.4avxJ4M8.dpuf