Evidence of prehistoric human occupation across this rugged land dates back more than 12,000 years.
Plains Indians, including the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Crow, Shoshone and Ute tribes were living here as the first handful of fur trappers and explorers arrived.
Little is known about those early adventurers, but France
, Great Britain, Mexico and Spain all laid claim to parts of the land. Regardless, this was Indian Territory, and remained so well into the 19th century.
In 1800, when Napoleon Bonaparte's armies moved across Europe, pressing Spain
into a corner, the Territory of Louisiana (New Orleans
) and a huge slice of land in the now central United States (including most of Wyoming
) was ceded to France
by Spain via a treaty.
In 1803, with war pressures mounting, Napoleon approved the sale of the entire area to the United States in a transaction named the Louisiana Purchase
and the United States doubled in size almost overnight.
John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark
expedition, and the first white man (known
) to have entered present-day Wyoming, was made famous by exploring the Yellowstone area in 1807. His tales of geysers, hot springs and other spectacular sites created quite a stir in the east - many considered it a big lie.
His explorations were followed by a long line of rugged "Mountain Men"
who roamed west along a passage route that would later be named the Oregon Trail.
In fact, the first wagon train of eastern settlers bound for California, Oregon and the Pacific Ocean made its way through here in 1832.
By the early 1840's small frontier trading posts sprang up as frequent caravans moved west along the trail. Many of those homesteaders just stopped and settled in Wyoming, and conflicts with the Native American Indians were inevitable and unavoidable.
The southwestern region of present-day Wyoming was obtained by the United States
in the 1846 Oregon Treaty with Great Britain. In 1869, the Wyoming Territory (including parts of the Dakota, Utah, and Idaho territories
) was organized, and a governor appointed.
The Union Pacific Railroad changed America's west forever, and Wyoming was no exception; its population grew quickly, thousands of settlers arrived, as well as cattle ranchers and sheep herders - moving north from Texas
. At that time huge herds of buffalo still grazed this original land of American Plains Indians. The Indians, in order to survive fought back against the expanding population. Legendary battles between the U.S. Cavalry and Indian forces (led by Crazy Horse and Red Cloud
) brought heavy losses to both sides. In the end, all of the remaining (out-gunned
) Indians were moved to reservations.
Statehood was on the minds of many, and in 1888, the Wyoming Territory sent the U.S.
Congress an official petition for admission into the Union, but it was initially rejected. On July 10, 1890, Wyoming became the 44th State, and Cheyenne the capitol.
In the 20th century Wyoming's economy was bolstered by the chemical and petroleum industries; the discovery and mining of uranium, and by coal mining and the subsequent electric power generation.
Tourism has clearly placed it on the world map as the state contains more than its share of stunning natural wonders, with Yellowstone National Park heading the list.
Wyoming's rich history chronicles cowboy campfires, frontier settlers, Indian cultures and old western towns, and here you can easily catch a glimpse of that past surrounded by one of America's most scenic landscapes.
Learn much more about Wyoming here!