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
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.
Matt Mead (R)
Governor. . . . . . . . . . . .
. .Term expires 2015
Mike Enzi (R)
U.S. Senator . . . . . . . . . . .Term expires in 2015
John Barrasso (R)
U.S. Senator . . . . . . . . . . .Term expires in 2013 (Appointed on June 22, 2007 to the 110th Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Senator Craig Thomas. The Wyoming Senator was elected by voters in 2008 to complete the final four years of the Senate term.)
Cynthia Lummis (R)
U.S. Representative . . . . . .Term expires in 2013
Components of Wyoming's economy differ significantly from those of other states. The mineral extraction industry is the main driver behind Wyoming’s economy as it contributed 28.4 percent to the State’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2012. The travel and tourism sector also provides lots of employment opportunities. Unlike other states, Wyoming does not possess an individual or corporate income tax, and along with low property tax rates, Wyoming’s households have one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation. The Federal government owns over 40.0% of Wyoming’s land, while about 6% is controlled by the state. Total taxable values from mining production in Wyoming for 2012 was over $13.5 billion. Travel spending in Wyoming totalled over $2 billion in 2012.
In 2012 nearly seven 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 3.4 million recreational visitors.
Wyoming’s unemployment rate for 2013 was approximately 4.7%, which was significantly lower than the national average of 7.5%. Per capita personal income (PCI) for Wyoming in 2012 was $50,567, the 8th highest in the nation. Median household income in the state was $55,979, the 17th highest, while the percent of population below poverty level was 11.9 percent, the 10th highest in the U.S.
Historically, agriculture has been an important component of Wyoming’s identity and it is still an essential part of Wyoming’s culture and lifestyle. In 2012, the total value of agricultural production in Wyoming was $1.4 billion. The main agricultural commodities produced in Wyoming include livestock (beef), hogs, hay, sugar beets, and corn. Over 99.8% of land in Wyoming is classified as rural.
WYOMING MINERAL PRODUCTION
Wyoming’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 2013 (July 1, 2012–June 30, 2013) Wyoming collected $839.8 million in mineral severance taxes, $961.6 million in federal mineral royalties and coal lease bonuses, and $181.6 million in sales taxes from the mining industry. In addition, ad valorem taxes from mineral production were assessed at $845.0 million in 2013.
Coal: Wyoming produced 401.2 million short tons of coal in 2012. The state is the number one producer of coal in the U.S. Coal is mainly used to produce electricity.
Natural Gas: In 2012 natural gas production (including coal bed methane) was 2,245 billion cubic feet. Wyoming ranks 4th 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 2012 the CBM production yield was 402.0 billion cubic feet.
Crude Oil: Production of Wyoming crude oil in 2012 was 57.6 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 2012 Wyoming produced 19.6 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
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
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
UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING
The 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 learn
ing, 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.
and summer school programs are also available. Educational op
portunities 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 eco
nomic 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.
Seven community or 'junior colleges provide educational opportunities in various parts of the state-Laramie County Community
College, Cheyenne; Casper College, Casper; Northwest College,
Powell; Sheridan College, Sheridan; Eastern Wyoming College, Torrington; Western Wyoming Community College, Rock Springs; and
Central Wyoming College, Riverton. With the University, 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. 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 pre-school 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.
The Wyoming School for the Deaf in Casper, operated by the State
Department of Education, serves approximately 44 students either
at the Deaf School or in public schools of the state. Many students
attending the school in Casper are residents of other communities
who are housed in private residences in Casper during the school
Wyoming 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
The 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
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.
For more information try the official Yellowstone page.
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.
For more information try the official Grand Teton page.
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."
For more information try the official Devil's Tower page.
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
For more information try the official Fossil Butte page.
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.
For more information try this page.
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.
For more information try this page.
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
For more information try this page.
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
For more information try this page.
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.
For more information try this page.
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.
There is more about Wyoming on the Historical Facts page.