Wyoming State Study

WyomingThanks for joining us for a Wyoming State Study.  Wyoming is the land of cowboys, rugged terrain, and insanely weird weather.  Snowstorms in July are more normal than not.  The motto of Wyoming is “equal rights” and true to their motto, Wyoming was the first U.S. territory or state to give equal voting rights to women.  Women also served in political and public offices from the earliest days of Wyoming.

History of Wyoming

Wyoming was one of the last states to be settled, though major wagon train trails went through there, the desirable land was in the gold fields of California or the fertile farm lands of the Pacific Northwest.  Of course various tribes had lived there for long before, but having no written records we do not know much about their history.

Slowly more and more people began to settle Wyoming and in 1867 when the Union Pacific Railroad entered Wyoming on its way west the people poured into the state.  Almost overnight it went from Indian territory to US territory.  In 1868 Wyoming became a territory and in 1890 Wyoming became a state.

Wyoming has lots and lots of wide open wilderness. People hunt, fish, hike, ride horseback, and camp. Photo by Greg Willis, CC license, Wikimedia.

Map of Wyoming

Here is a link to a printable Wyoming Map.

Wyoming web

Quickly review how latitude and longitude work and point out the degree marks on the edge of the map.  Give these coordinates and the name of the city.  The map has unlabeled dots for the cities listed below, when the kids find the right dot, have them fill in the city name.

Cheyenne   41 deg 8 min N    104 deg 49 min W
Casper       42 deg 51 min N   106 deg 19 min W
Laramie      41 deg 19 min N   105 deg 35 min W
Cody         44 deg 32 min N    109 deg 3 min W
Jackson      43 deg 29 min N   110 deg 46 min W

Then label the major rivers, Yellowstone National Park, Teton National Park, and color the map.

The western 2/3 of the state are mountainous.  The remaining 1/3 in the east is part of the Great Plains.  Can you see these regions in your student atlas?

Explorations

  • Rodeo is big in Wyoming: have your kids participate in pretend rodeo events: barrel racing, roping, buckin’ bronco.  Use a stick horse (or just a stick), rope and a see-saw or tire swing for the buckin’ bronco (remember one hand in the air).

This is the Buckin’ Bronc event at the Cody, Wyoming Rodeo. Photo by C. G. P. Grey, CC license, Wikimedia.

 

  • The Oregon, Mormon, and Northern California trails all passed through Wyoming.  Learn more about them.  One of the greatest tragedies of the trails occurred at Rocky Ridge in Wyoming to two Mormon handcart groups called the Willie and Martin Companies.
  • Visit the Yellowstone State Park website.
  • Fort Laramie was an important western army garrison and a stop for pioneers on the way west.  The army baker had to make bread for the whole garrison every day.  Make some Fort Laramie Bread with your kids and learn more about Fort Laramie.
  • Wyoming has the lowest population of any of the 50 states with about 584,000 people.

This is downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming, the capital and largest city.  Photo by Postdlf, CC license, Wikimedia.

Additional Layers

  • Learn more about native tribes of Wyoming: Absaroka (also called Crow), Shoshone,  Arapaho, and  Cheyenne.  Though we often tend to think of the American Indians as all one big group, each tribe was really a distinct nation.  Read Moccasin Trail about a boy who is adopted by Absaroka Indians after they save his life.
  • Before any settlements there were trappers.  They held a yearly “rendezvous” at the Green River in Wyoming.  Learn more about trapping for furs in the Rocky Mountains.
  • The Pony Express went through Wyoming as well.
  • Wyoming was the first U.S. territory in 1869 to give women the right to vote.  Learn about the struggle for women’s suffrage.  That wasn’t Wyoming’s only first.  They also had the first female justice of the peace, the first female State Appointee, first female director of the U.S. Mint, and the first female governor.
  • Cody, Wyoming was named by Buffalo Bill Cody in the hopes of attracting people to his town.  It worked.  Where did your town get its name?
  • Wyoming can have wild weather, like blizzards in July.

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