History | Symbols | Interesting Facts | Famous People
Several Native American Indian
tribes lived in the Wyoming region when European trappers first arrived
during the late 1700s. Some
of these groups included the Cheyenne, Crow, Shoshone, Sioux, and Ute.
American exploration of the
Wyoming region occurred following the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
American trappers made several trails across Wyoming in search of
furs. Robert Stuart led a
group of fur traders from Oregon across Wyoming in 1812.
They discovered South Pass, a relatively easy way across the
In 1833, Captain Benjamin
Bonneville led a group into Wyoming and discovered oil in the Wind River
Basin. Fort Laramie, the area’s first permanent trading post, was
built the following year. In
1846, the federal government voted to establish forts along the Oregon
Trail to protect settlers moving west.
Several settlers passed
through Wyoming during the mid-1800s.
The California Trail, the Mormon Trail to Utah, and the Oregon
Trail to the Pacific coast all traveled through South Pass.
The Bozeman Trail led to Montana, but was closed in the Fort
Laramie Treaty of 1868. In
1869, another treaty with the Indians created the Wind River
Reservation. Tribes who did
not move into the reservation were forced outside of Wyoming.
By the time Wyoming became its
own territory on July 25, 1868, railroad expansion had brought settlers
moving westward in search of gold, oil, and coal.
Towns such as Cheyenne, Laramie, Rock Springs and Green River
were established along the railroad tracks.
Cattle ranching became an important business.
The tourism industry also began in Wyoming as Yellowstone
National Park opened, the nation’s first national park.
Many settlers came to Wyoming
during the late 1800s. Several
of the small ranchers built fences around their homes and animals.
Powerful and wealthy ranchers that had allowed their cattle to
graze freely upon the land did not like the fences and blamed the small
ranchers of steeling their cattle.
War broke out among them and some men were killed.
Federal troops were called in to stop the bloodshed.
During the early 1900s,
Wyoming’s population grew rapidly as areas of free land were given to
settlers under the Homestead Acts.
The development of irrigation allowed crops to be grown in drier
parts of the state. Oil was
discovered just north of Casper.
The economy increased greatly
during World War II (1939-1945). Oil,
coal, and meat industries prospered and continued to develop after the
war. Mining of uranium
ranked third in the nation by the late 1950s.
Many businesses were established during the 1960s.
Huge chemical plants were built near Green River and iron ore
processing plants established near Sunrise and Atlantic City.
The natural gas industry also expanded into the Powder River
Recently, Wyoming has
experienced a decline in many of the mineral industries.
Demand for uranium has decreased and the prices of oil have
fallen. People are now more self-conscience of pollutants in the air
and are reducing the use of coal.