The musical name, "Wyoming," was used by J.M. Ashley of Ohio, who, as early as 1865, introduced a bill to Congress to provide a "temporary government for the territory of Wyoming." It was to be formed from portions of the Dakota, Utah and Idaho territories. The bill was referred to a committee where it rested until 1868. During debate on the bill in the U.S. Senate in 1868, other possible names were suggested, such as Cheyenne, Shoshoni, Arapaho, Sioux, Platte, Big Horn, Yellowstone, Sweetwater and Lincoln. "Wyoming" was already commonly used and remained the popular choice.
The name Wyoming was adopted from two Delaware Indian words, MECHEWEAMI-ING. To the Indians it meant "at the big plains," or "on the great plain," certainly appropriate for Wyoming.
Term expires 2015
Governor Mead has served as the 32nd Governor of Wyoming since 2011.
Mike Enzi (R), U.S. Senator
John Barrasso (R), U.S. Senator
Cynthia Lummis (R), U.S. Representative
Components of Wyoming's economy differ significantly from those of other states. The mineral extraction industry and the travel and tourism sector are the main drivers behind Wyoming’s economy. Unlike other states, Wyoming does not possess an individual or corporate income tax. The Federal government owns 42.3% of its landmass, while 6% is controlled by the state. Total taxable values of mining production in Wyoming for 2007 was over $14.5 billion. The tourism industry accounts for over $1 billion in revenue for the state.
In 2007 over six million people visited Wyoming’s national parks and monuments. The key tourist attractions in Wyoming include Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Devil’s Tower National Monument, and Fossil Butte National Monument. Each year Yellowstone National Park receives three million visitors.
Wyoming’s unemployment rate for 2007 was approximately 3.5%, which was significantly lower than the national average of 4.6%. Per capita income (PCI) for Wyoming in 2007 was $43,226.
Historically, agriculture has been an important component of Wyoming’s economic identity. Its overall importance to the performance of Wyoming’s economy has waned. However, it is still an essential part of Wyoming’s culture and lifestyle. In 2007 the total value of agricultural production in Wyoming was $1021.4 million. The main agricultural commodities produced in Wyoming include livestock (beef), hay, sugar beets, grain (wheat and barley), and wool. Over 91% of land in Wyoming is classified as rural.
Wyoming Mineral ProductionWyoming’s mineral commodities include coal, natural gas, coal bed methane, crude oil, and trona. Wyoming ranks highest in mining employment in the U.S. In fiscal year 2007 Wyoming collected over $145 million in sales taxes from the mining industry.
Coal: Wyoming produced 452.1 million short tons of coal in 2007. The state is the number one producer of coal in the U.S. Coal is mainly used to produce electricity. Wyoming possesses a reserve of 68.7 billion tons of coal.
Natural Gas: In 2007 natural gas production was 2,145 billion cubic feet. Wyoming ranks 5th nationwide for natural gas production. The major markets for natural gas include industrial, commercial, and domestic heating.
Coal Bed Methane (CBM): The boom for CBM began in the mid-1990’s. CBM is characterized as methane gas that is extracted from Wyoming’s coal bed seams. It is another means of natural gas production. There has been substantial CBM production the Powder River Basin. In 2007 the CBM production yield was 436.3 billion cubic feet.
Crude Oil: Production of Wyoming crude oil in 2007 was 53.3 million barrels. The state is ranked 7th among producers of oil in the U.S. Petroleum is most often used as a motor fuel, but it also utilized in the manufacturing of plastics, paints, and synthetic rubber.
Trona: Wyoming possesses the largest known reserve of trona in the world. Trona is used for glass manufacturing, paper, soaps, baking soda, water softeners, and pharmaceuticals. In 2007 Wyoming produced 17.1 million short tons of trona.
Wyoming is the center of the continent's pronghorn antelope herd and boasts the largest antelope population of any state or province. Wyoming is also the home of the world's largest single elk herd. Mule deer are found in every county and white-tailed deer inhabit the Black Hills area. Moose are found in the northwestern part of the state. There is also a small population of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in the northern portions of the state. Bear, another Wyoming game animal, is seldom seen except in Yellowstone Park.
Cottontails and jackrabbits abound in Wyoming's wide open spaces along with coyotes, bobcats and a variety of fur-bearing animals.
The sage grouse is Wyoming's most plentiful and widely distributed native game bird. It is found in every county. Several other species of grouse inhabit the mountains of the state. Pheasants, chukar, Hungarian partridge and wild turkeys abound. Many species of waterfowl including ducks, geese and the rare trumpeter and whistler swans are found in Wyoming.
Wyoming has twenty-two species of game fish, including six kinds of trout that find the clear and cold streams and lakes to their liking-rainbow, brook, cutthroat, brown, golden and Mackinaw. The world's record California golden trout was caught in Wyoming's Cook Lake in 1948 (the fish measured 28 inches long, weighed 11 lbs. 4 oz. and was landed by C.S. Read of Omaha, Nebraska). Bass, walleye, crappie, perch, sauger, ling, channel catfish and bluegill are found in the warm water lakes. Fishing success is generally high and Wyoming has been called a fisherman's paradise.
University of WyomingThe University of Wyoming, established in 1886 by the Territorial Legislature, has an impressive record of progress.
As Wyoming's only public four year institution of higher education, it is a center of learning, culture, research and service. Enrollment for the fall semester of 2009 was 13,476. Students are from every county in the state, and from all 50 states and from more than 75 countries.
There are approximately 190 areas of study in colleges of Arts and Sciences, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Business, Education, Engineering and Applied Science, Health Sciences, Law and the School of Energy Resources. Graduate study and summer school programs are also available. Educational
opportunities and other public services are extended to all
parts of the state by the School of Extended Studies and Public Service and the Agricultural Extension Service. Research projects contribute to economic and social
progress in Wyoming.
Buildings of colorful native stone in a setting of spacious lawns and gardens against a backdrop of rugged mountain peaks make the campus at Laramie one of the most beautiful in the nation.
Community CollegesSeven community colleges provide educational opportunities in various parts of the state: Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne; Casper College in Casper; Northwest College in Powell; Sheridan College in Sheridan; Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington; Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs; and Central Wyoming College in Riverton. Along with the University of Wyoming, they provide academic courses at the freshman and sophomore levels, terminal, vocational and general education programs, and adult education programs in the local communities.
Public education is directed by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, an elected state official, and the Department of Education. Educational policies are set by the State Board of Education, a nine-member board appointed by the Governor. The Constitution prohibits the state from establishing curriculum and text book selections; these are the prerogatives of local school boards. School figures, fall, 1983: 100,965 students in public schools, approximately 2,663 in non-public schools, 480 in Indian schools, 1,036 in preschool development centers, and 270 in the university school; 49 school districts with 154 elementary schools, 63 junior high or middle schools and 73 secondary schools. Current data can be found the Department's website.
Geographical LocationWyoming is located in the Rocky Mountain section of the western United States. It is bounded on the north by Montana, on the east by South Dakota and Nebraska, on the south by Colorado and Utah, and on the west by Utah, Idaho and Montana. Wyoming is one of three states entirely bounded by straight lines. It is the ninth largest state in the United States containing 97,914 square miles and is made up of 23 counties. From the north border to the south border it is 276 miles; from the east to the west border, 375 miles.
Physical CharacteristicsThe Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming. The state is a great plateau broken by a number of important mountain ranges. In the northwest are the Absaroka, the Owl Creek, Wyoming, Gros Ventre, Wind River and the Teton ranges. In the north central are the Big Horns; in the northeast, the Black Hills; and in the southern portion of Wyoming, the Laramie, Medicine Bow and Sierra Madre ranges.
The Continental Divide cuts through Wyoming from the northwest to the south central border. Rivers east of the Divide drain into the Missouri River Basin and eventually the Atlantic Ocean. They are the Platte, Wind, Big Horn and the Yellowstone rivers. The Snake River in northwest Wyoming eventually drains into the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean, as does the Green River through the Colorado River Basin.
Wyoming has the second highest mean elevation in the United States at 6,700 feet above sea level. The climate is semiarid, but because of its topographical diversity, it is also varied. Annual precipitation varies from as little as five inches to as much as 45 inches a year, some in the form of rain and some in snow.
Because of its elevation, Wyoming has a relatively cool climate. Above the 6,000 foot level the temperature rarely exceeds 100 F. Summer nights are almost invariably cool, though daytime readings may be quite high. Away from the mountains, low July temperatures range from 50 to 60 F.
National Parks and Monuments
Yellowstone National Park - The world's first and foremost national park. Two contrasting elements have combined to produce this area of natural wonders; a land born in the fires of thundering volcanoes and since sculptured by glacial ice and running water. The park features the world's most extensive area of geothermal activity. Thousands of hot springs dot thermal basins; geysers hurl thousands of gallons of boiling water into the air; hissing steam vents punctuate valley floors; and petrified tree stumps, remnants of a primeval forest buried by volcanic ash, stand starkly on eroded mountain sides. This thermal theatre had its beginning in an enormous volcanic eruption thought to have occurred about 600,000 years ago. Heat from a huge reservoir of molten rock, which produced the massive eruption, remains relatively close beneath the surface, sustaining the spectacular hot water and steam phenomena for which the park is famous.
Grand Teton National Park - Wyoming's smaller national park, Grand Teton, lies south of Yellowstone. Known worldwide for its breathtaking beauty, the Teton Range thrusts abruptly from the floor of the Jackson Hole valley nearly one and a half miles seemingly straight up into the skies. The Indians called them Teewinot-Many Pinnacles-while the French trappers referred to part of the range as Les Trois Tetons-The Three Breasts.
Devils Tower National Monument - The nation's first national monument, Devils Tower, looms prominently over the Belle Fourche River in a place where the pine forests of the Black Hills merge with the grasslands of the rolling plains. This imposing formation is a stump-shaped cluster of rock columns 1,000 feet across the bottom and 275 feet across the top. It rises 1,280 feet above the valley to a height of 5,117 feet above sea level. For centuries, Devils Tower played an important role in the legend and folklore of Indian people. It became a landmark to stalwart explorers and travelers pushing their way west from the Black Hill region. It was proclaimed a national monument on September 24, 1906, by President Theodore Roosevelt. The most recent fame for the tower came as the site where the spaceship landed in the popular movie, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."
Fossil Butte National Monument - Is a ruggedly impressive topographic feature which rises sharply some 1,000 feet above Twin Creek Valley to an elevation of more than 7,500 feet above sea level. At the base of the butte are the brightly colored fossil beds of the Wasatch Formation. Near the top of the butte are the much steeper buff-to-white beds of the Green River Formation. The richest fossil fish deposits are found in limestone layers about three feet thick and lie from 30 to 300 feet below the varying surfaces of the butte. The fossils represent several varieties of perch, as well as other freshwater genera, and several kinds of herring whose descendants now live in the sea. Fossil Butte contains 8,180 acres and was established as a national monument by public law on October 23, 1972.
Bighorn National Forest - established in 1897, contains 1.1 million acres within an area roughly 80 miles long and 30 miles wide. The 195,000-acre Cloud Peak Wilderness pays tribute to the Highest peak in the Bighorn Mountains. This rugged wilderness resulted from glacial action that formed U-shaped valleys, leaving vertical walls up to 1,500 feet in height.
Black Hills National Forest - contains 175,000 acres in Wyoming and another 1 million acres in neighboring South Dakota. The Lakota Sioux called these hills "Paha Sapa," or "hills that are black," because the ponderosa pine slopes are dark when seen from the plains. The pine, spruce, aspen and oak forests provide habitat for various wildlife including elk, white-tailed deer and turkey.
Bridger-Teton National Forest - is the second largest national forest outside Alaska, encompassing more than 3.4 million acres. High elevations, varied topography, interesting geological formations an incredible array of wildlife and the famous Jackson Hole elk herd combine to make this an exciting place to visit. The Teton Wilderness lies immediately south of Yellowstone National Park and is home to grizzly bears and great hunting and fishing. The Bridger Wilderness, on the west slope of the Wind River Range north and east of Pinedale, is widely used by backpackers throughout the summer and fall. The Gros Ventre Wilderness is a mountainous area located east of Jackson and is a mecca for those seeking a less crowded experience.
Medicine Bow National Forest - spreads through five southeastern counties and consists of more than 1 million acres, as well as the Thunder Basin National Grassland in northeast Wyoming. The origin of "Medicine Bow" is legendary and relates to the Indian tribes who inhabited southeastern Wyoming and made their hunting bows of mountain mahogany found there. Medicine Bow National Forest includes the Snowy Range, which owes its name to the snowfields that remain there throughout the summer, and is home to four wilderness areas: Platte River, Huston Park, Encampment River and Savage Run.
Shoshone National Forest - contains more than 2.4 million acres of outstanding lakes, streams, scenery, wildlife and many resorts and dude ranches and is a major recreational attraction. Five spectacular wildernesses are found here: Washakie Wilderness, Absaroka-Beartooth and North Absaroka Wilderness, Popo Agie Wilderness and Fitzpatrick Wilderness.
Targhee National Forest - based in Idaho, has two wildernesses within Wyoming's borders. The Jedediah Smith Wilderness is located on the west slope of the Teton Range and named for the famous mountain man, explorer and trapper of the early 1800s. Glacially carved subalpine lake basins, limestone cave systems, outstanding view of the Tetons and abundant wildlife highlight this area. The smaller Winegar Hole Wilderness lies adjacent to the southwest corner of Yellowstone National Park.
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