Wyoming’s population may be sparse, but its residents are an industrious and — at times — strange bunch.
With open horizon as far as the eye can see and dots of civilization few and far between, there is a lot of room to get creative with the definition of entertainment.
Here’s a few random factoids about the Equality State, according to the “Wyoming Almanac” authored in part by Laramie’s own Phil Roberts.
The Laramie Daily Sentinel, perhaps in conjunction with a pair of local doctors, printed a story April 1, 1874, about a strange operation on a woman complaining of discomfort in her stomach. According to the article, Dr. J.H. Finfrock, aided by Dr. Harris, pulled a snake out of the woman’s intestines during surgery. The story was picked up by the national wire and printed across the nation as fact. It was, however, an April Fool’s joke, and perhaps, Wyoming’s first case of “Fake News.”
Chili is a beloved dish served often in many Wyoming homes. Some take immense pride in serving only Chugwater Chili, made in Chugwater about 70 miles east of Laramie. But it’s up for grabs whether the entrée was invented here, at least in the eyes of one Denver Post columnist — Red Fenwick. The writer once satirically claimed chili was invented by a Wyoming shepherd for keeping his dog’s feet warm. Upon success, the shepherd sent the recipe to a friend in Texas, who mistook it for a meal, Fenwick wrote adding, “which Texans have been doing ever since.”
While many imagine Wyoming’s history began with the railroad, hell-on-wheels towns or Native Americans, the state’s first inhabitants were a far more uproarious bunch — dinosaurs.
Edward Drinker Cope discovered the state’s first fossil, that of an agathaumas sylvestris, in 1872 on the western side of the Wyoming territory.
Since then, hundreds of remains have been discovered throughout the state including childhood favorites such as Triceratops, Allosaurus, Stegosaurus, Brontosaurus and the ferocious Tyrannosaurus.
While the area was home to land lizards a plenty, many aquatic dinos inhabited the state as well. Charles Bass of Jay Em discovered a fossilized mosasaurus hoffmani, a carnivorous water-dwelling lizard that grew to the size of a whale. Additionally, the first diplodocus ever discovered was dug up near Como Bluff around 1878.
Inducted into the union in 1890, the 20th century was a busy time for the newborn state.
In 1906, Devils Tower National Monument was established.
In 1915, Wyoming’s first paved highway opened near Casper.
In 1935, the iconic Steamboat bucking horse was added to Wyoming license plates.
In 1954, the state’s first television broadcast was made.
In 1972, Wyoming set it’s first minimum wage at $1.60 per hour.
In 1988, the state led the nation in coal production.
Visit the Laramie Area Visitors Center, 210 E. Custer St., or pick up a copy of “Wyoming Almanac” online or at one of several bookstores in the Laramie area for more facts and history about the 44th state.