The U.S. acquired the land comprising Wyoming from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. John Colter, a fur-trapper, is the first white man known to have entered the region. In 1807 he explored the Yellowstone area and brought back news of its geysers and hot springs.
Robert Stuart pioneered the Oregon Trail across Wyoming in 1812–1813 and, in 1834, Fort Laramie, the first permanent trading post in Wyoming, was built. Western Wyoming was obtained by the U.S. in the 1846 Oregon Treaty with Great Britain and as a result of the treaty ending the Mexican War in 1848.
When the Wyoming Territory was organized in 1869, Wyoming women became the first in the nation to obtain the right to vote. In 1925 Mrs. Nellie Tayloe Ross became the first woman governor in the United States.
Wyoming's towering mountains and vast plains provide spectacular scenery, grazing lands for sheep and cattle, and rich mineral deposits.
Wyoming is the leading coal-producing state and a leader in the production of petroleum and natural gas. Wyoming has the world's largest sodium carbonate (natrona) deposits and has the nation's second largest uranium deposits.
A leading producer of sheep and wool, Wyoming is also a major producer of beef cattle and hogs. Principal crops include wheat, oats, sugar beets, corn, barley, and alfalfa.
Second in mean elevation to Colorado, Wyoming has many attractions for the tourist trade, notably Yellowstone National Park . Hikers, campers and skiers are attracted to Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole National Monument in the Teton Range of the Rockies. Cheyenne is famous for its annual “Frontier Days” celebration. Flaming Gorge, the Fort Laramie National Historic Site, and Devils Tower and Fossil Butte National Monuments are other points of interest.
Wyoming was selected as an official state of the Free State Project, a political migration. The plan was to have all Libertarians relocate to one state so they could live free. The project was started in 2001. Members voted on select states for the migration. Wyoming received 498 votes, coming in second behind New Hampshire.
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Selected famous natives and residents:
- Scott Avett musician, member of The Avett Brothers;
- James Bridger trapper, guide, and storyteller;
- Dick Cheney vice president;
- Buffalo Bill Cody scout;
- John Colter trader and first white man to enter Wyoming;
- June E. Downey educator;
- Thomas Fitzpatrick mountain man and guide;
- Harrison Ford actor;
- Matthew Fox actor;
- Curt Gowdy sportscaster;
- Tom Horn detective;
- Isabel Jewell actress;
- Velma Linford writer;
- Esther Morris first woman judge;
- Ted Olson writer;
- John “Portugee” Phillips frontiersman;
- Jackson Pollock painter;
- Nellie Tayloe Ross first woman elected governor of a state;
- Matthew Shepard murdered student;
- Alan K. Simpson senator;
- Jedediah S. Smith mountain man and first American to reach California from the East;
- Alan Swallow publisher and author;
- Willis Van Devanter jurist;
- Francis E. Warren first state governor;
- Chief Washakie chief of the Shoshone;
- James G. Watt secretary of the Interior.