|From the Herbert Coffeen >History of Wyoming|
WYOMING—A GENERAL VIEW
|Topography—Rivers and Lakes—Forests—Game and Fish—Remarkable Scenery—Climate—Precipitation—Classification of Lands—Mineral Resources—Productions—Industrial Developement—Irrigation and Dry Farming|
|Wyoming has an area of about 98,000 square miles, or to be exact, 62,664,960 acres. It is a parallelogram about three hundred and fifty miles long, east and west, and two hundred and eighty miles wide. It is an empire equal to the combined area of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine and Pennsylvania and these states have over 15,000,000 inhabitants. If we compare the state with foreign lands, Wyoming has an area greater than England and Switzerland combined and they have a population of about 40,000,000.||TOPOGRAPHY|
| The topography of the state is diversified. It is an elevated plateau of the Rocky Mountain uplift, broken by foot hills and lofty mountain ranges, with intervening valleys and extensive stretches of level and rolling plains. Approaching from the east the great plains have a gradual rise to the foot hills of the Rockies and maintain an average of from five thousand to six thousand five hundred feet above sea level.|
The front range of the Rock'ies extends from Colorado northward to the North Platte River, and consists principally of the Laramie and Medicine Bow mountains which rise above the plains from fifteen hundred to three thousand feet. Beyond the North Platte the foot hills and mountain ranges trend to the northwest and culminate in the Big Horn range which reaches an elevation of twelve thousand to over thirteen thousand feet. Beyond the front range in the northwestern part of the state is the Wind River range extending south and east. Its spurs and elevations from the Rattlesnake and the Seminole Mountains south along the Sweetwater River. South of the Sweetwater is a treeless, unwatered, high plateau known as the Red Desert, broken near its southern border by the spurs of the Uinta Mountains. West of the Red Desert the plateau maintains an elevation averaging 7,000 feet above the sea level. On the extreme western .boundary of the state the Salt and Teton ranges extend south from the Yellowstone Mountains. From the northeast corner of the state the Black Hills of Dakota extend in a southerly direction rising from the plains in spurs and buttes and become the Black Hills of Wyoming.
The topography of Wyoming's surface is so varied as to be impossible to describe in definite terms. The mountain areas take all forms of majestic and rugged beauty, and frame mountain parks, beautiful with flowers and leaping cascades. On the highest peaks crowned with everlasting snows, glaciers are formed and become the source of pure mountain streams abounding in trout, and flowing down through the valleys and low lands, give water to the ranches and become tributaries of the great rivers that course through the state.
|RIVERS AND LAKES|
| Wyoming has more large rivers and streams than any state of the arid or semi-arid region. In the northern part of the state, among the large streams, are the Snake, the Yellowstone, the Big Horn and Wind rivers. In Southern and Central Wyoming we have the Green, the Laramie and the North Platte. These and other rivers with their numerous tributaries make a network of streams over the entire state. The North Platte alone has over fifty tributary streams. The sources of the Columbia, the Colorado and the Missouri rivers are found in the mountain ranges of Wyoming.|
The Continental Divide beginning in Sweetwater County on about the twelfth meridian follows the mountain ranges in a northwesterly direction and on the west slope of these ranges the waters flow to the Pacific Ocean. The principal streams on this slope being the Snake and Green rivers and their tributaries.
It is estimated that seventy-five per cent of the waters of the state go to waste in floods and natural run olif, and that a system of reclamation, impounding these waters in dams and catchment basins would irrigate 15,000,000 acres of land. A beginning has been made in this direction by reclamation projects under the United States service and the Carey Acts.
The potential energy that can also be derived from these rivers in the form of hydro-electro power is so great as to be almost impossible to estimate. At present not one per cent of this power has been utilized. The streams having their sources high up in the mountains and rushing down their sides afford admirable location for power sites in every section of the state.
The canyons and waterfalls made by these rivers and lakes are noteworthy features of the topography. The canyons of the Yellowstone, Big Horn and North Platte rivers are wonderful gorges cut through the mountains and are deep, dark, silent and mysterious. In majesty and sublimity they are only excelled by the Grand Canyon of Arizona, while in variety they are in many respects superior. The Grand Canyon and Falls of the Yellowstone afford a marvelous view of scenic grandeur and impressive beauty.
The mountain lakes of Wyoming are numerous and are found in the highest ranges, the largest being Yellowstone JLake in the National Park. Jackson Lake is next in importance, located at the base of the Grand Tetons. There are many lakes in the Wind River range and in the Sierra Madre, in Southern Wyoming, found at various altitudes from 9,000 to 11,000 feet above sea level. These lakes are beautiful in scenic surroundings, their waters being clear and cold and abounding with fish mostly of the trout species. Jacksons Lake is the most beautiful and interesting of all lakes in its magnificent surroundings of mountains and forests which aft'ord the finest hunting ground for large game animals, to be found in the United States. It is also noted for its fine fishing, making it a famous resort for sportsmen from all parts of the world.
| The forest area of Wyoming covers over 10,000,000 acres. Of this area 8,385,288 acres have been designated by the United States Government as forest reserves. The Yellowstone Park contains 1,954,560 acres which is largely timber land. These magnificent forests are constantly increasing by natural growth, the cut off, mostly for railroad ties, not being equal to the increase by growth. The forest reserves being under Government control and supervision, are admirably cared for and conserved by forest supervisors and rangers who make their home in the reserves. Good roads and telephone lines are built, new forests are seeded, forest fires are fought and predatory animals, such as timber wolves, mountain lions, bears, etc., are trapped and killed oflf. Under a government leasing system the timber reserves are utilized largely for grazing of live stock, including sheep, cattle and horses. Under this system grazing permits are issued for thousands of these animals to the great benefit of the state and nation.|
The largest national forest reserve is the Teton, on the western borders of the state and lying south of Yellowstone Park. The Shoshone, the Washakie and the Wyoming forest reserves are the next in importance, these all being in the western part of the state. The Big Horn National Forest practically covers the Rig Horn Mountains in the northern and central part of the state. The Black Hills reserve is located in the northeastern part of Wyoming and the Hayden and Medicine Bow forests are on its southern border.
|GAME ANIMALS IN WYOMING|
| In referring to the mountains and forests of Wyoming we must naturally revert to the wild life of these regions, the animals, birds and fish that here find congenial homes. Nate P. Wilson, state game warden says in his latest report: "No state in the Union has the natural resources that appeal to the sportsman and lovers of nature as those of Wyoming, and the greatest of all is our wild life. From the lowlands to the highest peaks can be found game and fish in abundance. Each year sportsmen from all civilized countries journey to Wyoming to spend their vacations where they can be sure of getting their limit of game and enjoy the best of fishing. It is indeed a rare case when one is disappointed.|
"Within the borders of our state are to be found vast herds of that wonderful game animal—the North American Elk; high up above timberline on any of our mountain ranges the energetic hunter can find the most prized of all game—the big horn or Rocky Mountain sheep. Grizzly, black and brown bear are plentiful in many districts. Deer are to be had in every county. Antelope are still to be seen roaming on our plains districts. Moose are increasing wonderfully—many have been killed this year. Game birds and fish are everywhere. Our streams are well stocked with trout of all kinds, especially Cut Throat (Mountain Trout), Rainbow. Brook, Loch Leven and iMackinaw. Last season a Mackinaw weighing 27½ pounds was caught in Jacksons Lake."
| This state leads all the other states in its provisions for protecting and increasing its wild game by its legislation and by the establishment of game preserves, where game animals can live in security and raise their young. Consequently our game resources are increasing every year. The game preserves established by the state are the Big Horn, 960,000 acres; Teton, 507.000 acres; Shoshone, 200,000 acres; Hoodoo Basin, 200,000 acres; Popo Agie, 165,000 acres; Boulder Basin, 50,000 acres.|
Among the large game animals we have the elk, moose, mountain sheep, deer and antelope. The bear is also regarded as a game animal and is found in great numbers. Nowhere on the continent are there such immense herds of elk as in the Jackson Hole region. In this section and the Yellowstone Park it is estimated there are fifty thousand elk, and for the last ten years many states have been re-stocked from these herds in addition to supplying the demands, of museums and zoological parks in this country and abroad. The deer, moose and antelope herds are increasing. The beaver is found in every section of Wyoming. The principal game birds are the pine grouse, the sage hen. all kinds of ducks and geese and all of these exist in great abundance.
|A fisherman's paradise|
| Wyoming is a paradise for fishermen. Out of the twenty-one counties that compose the state there is not one without its mountain streams abounding in trout, while in the larger streams and rivers the pike, catfish, sturgeon, black bass and other varieties are caught. The purity and coldness of the waters having their source in the mountain springs make the flesh of the fish of fine quality and gives the strength and gameness to the fish that make the sport attractive and exhilarating. The state has three fish hatcheries, located respectively in the counties of Albany, Bighorn and Sheridan, and these hatcheries are supplemented by the United States hatchery at Saratoga. Thus all the streams and lakes in every section are stocked with young fish whenever the demand exists.|
The economic value of the game and fish in adding to the food supply of the people is much greater than is generally estimated, in addition to the healthful recreation and sporting pleasure given the hunter and fisherman in vacation and camping-out life.
|SCENIC FREAKS AND WONDERS|
| The Yellowstone National Park with its marvelous physical phenomena, hot springs, spouting geysers, mud volcanos, petrified forests, mountains of glass, canyons, lakes, forests and waterfalls, is described in another chapter as the world's wonderland.|
In other sections are peculiar and eccentric manifestations of nature such as the soda lakes with millions of tons of almost pure sulphate of soda, which glisten like snow and ice; or the weird stone formations in the bad lands which assume shapes of castles, towers, monuments, and ruined cities, and sometimes the grotesque forms of animals. In Converse County on the La Prelle" and in Sweetwater County on Clear Fork, there are natural bridges of stone made by centuries of natural chiseling. In Crook County is one of Nature's most curious formations called the "'Devil's Tower," a large mass of basaltic rock rising abruptly from the plain in bold and column-hke outlines, 1300 feet high. This is now placed as a monument in a United States reserve.
The "Club Sandwich" is another eccentric rock formation in Johnson County. The "Devil's Garden," near Meeteetse is still another example of Nature's unique carving in the eternal rocks.
| The climate of Wyoming is remarkably healthful and invigorating. Contrary to the prevailing idea regarding much of the Rocky Mountain region, the winters are not severe and cold waves are of short duration. The dryness of the atmosphere and the universality of sunshine ameliorates the severity of the cold waves of winter. In the lower altitudes which constitute the settled portion of the state the snow fall is generally light even when heavy snows cover the high ranges to great depths.|
While the winters are mild, the summers are delightfully cool and hot nights are practically unknown anywhere in the state, even in mid-summer.
The climatology of the state for Weather Bureau observations is divided into three sections, designated as southeastern, northeastern and western. Of the southeastern section the United States Bureau reports the annual mean temperature over the greater portion to be from 40° to 45°. Temperatures in excess of 100° are seldom registered. At Cheyenne the maximum temperature of 100° was reached only once in thirty-nine years. For many seasons it has not been above 95°. At Laramie the maximum on record for a period of nineteen years is only 92°. The air of the section is pure and dry.
An important climatic factor is the high percentage of sunshine, it averaging nearly 70 per cent in the plains region. This plays an economic part in the flavor and maturing of agricultural products.
In the northeastern section the climate does not differ materially from the southeastern, except that owing to the higher mountain ranges there are greater extremes of temperature–the mean temperature being between 42° and 45°. Sunshine records kept at Lander and Sheridan show the average of 70 per cent of the possible amount for the year.
The western section which is largely covered by rugged mountains and including the Red Desert has a mean temperature of about 40° ranging from about 20° in January to 70° in July and August. The valley records made at elevations from six thousand to seven thousand feet show a mean, annual temperature of from 37° to 40° except in the Green River Valley where it is from 32° to 34° degrees. No good mountain records are available.
In general, Wyoming is a part of the great Rocky Mountain region, central in location and not subject either to extreme heat or cold. With its abundant sunshine, ozone, and pure mountain air, no more healthful climate can be found on the continent.
| In the so-called arid states with which Wyoming may be classed, precipitation is a subject of the utmost importance. The farming and live stock interests are largely dependent on the snow.and rainfall. Both irrigation and dry farming exist by utilizing the fall of moisture, the first in the mountains and the second on the plains. The recent report of the United States Weather Bureau at Cheyenne gives interesting data showing the precipitation in every part of the state. An area comprising over one-half of the state, largely its central and eastern part, has a rainfall of from ten to fifteen inches. About one-fourth of the state lying southeast and northeast, and sections in the northwest have a precipitation of from fifteen to twenty inches. A small area in the Jackson Hole region shows precipitation from twenty-five to thirty inches. In the Big Horn Basin and Red desert, comprising about one-eighth of the state, the precipitation is less than ten inches.|
Recent practical experience has demonstrated the fact that dry farming can be carried on successfully where the precipitation is ten inches and upwards. The state has nearly 30,000,000 acres of unappropriated public lands and it is considered a fair estimate that 20,000,000 acres can be classed as farming land, ^nd the remainder as grazing land. Wyoming will soon be numbered among the farming states.
Primitive Wyoming was classed as a part of the "Great American Desert" and its native plant productions were sage brush, cactus and grama, or buffalo grass. A wonderful transformation has taken place as will be shown in the chapter on Agriculture, exhibiting the rapid increase of farming settlements and agricultural crops.
|CLASSIFICATION OF LANDS|
|The present status of all the lands of Wyoming is given in a recent classification by State Engineer James B. True, as follows:
In describing the surface area of Wyoming and its agricultural and live stock products we are apt to forget the enormous underground mineral resources of the state in coal, iron, oil, phosphate, etc.
| No State in the Union can compare with Wyoming in its marvelous undeveloped resources of oil, coal and iron, the great factors of modern industry and commerce. Geologists estimate 25.000,000 acres underlaid with coal; 15,000,000 acres underlaid with oil; 1,500,000 acres of phosphate lands, and mountains of iron containing 1,250,000,000 tons of ore. In fact, it is safe to say no ecjual area in the world so far discovered, contains such enormous deposits of the minerals valuable to the world.|
The following summary of Wyoming's resources, including the lands, made from United States Geological Surveys, State Geological and land reports and special examinations of experts will give some idea of the state's undeveloped wealth.
The metallic resources of the state such as gold, silver, copper and lead have never been developed to any large extent. There is no question however as to the existence in large quantities of these metals in all the mountains of the state. Geologically Wyoming is directly on the mineral belt between Colorado and Montana and its western border adjoins the mineral zone of Idaho. State lines do not cut off mineral production, and the only reason our great mineral veins and deposits have not been worked is the fact that Wyoming is sparsely settled and the new settlers could see quicker fortunes in cattle and sheep on a free range, and in mining coal and petroleum which was found everywhere.
In early days California miners took out millions in the gold placers of the state. Very rich copper mines have been discovered and worked in the Grand Encampment and Hartville districts. It is estimated that the Colorado Fuel & Iron Co. produced $750,000 worth of copper from one mine at Sunrise last year, and this was done as an incident to their mining of iron from the same mine. In this history we shall give the facts to show that the mountains are veritable treasure vauhs of metallic wealth.
It should be noted also, that this summary refers only to undeveIopt?d resources, and that the ranches, cattle, sheep, and industries of the state, manufactures, buildings, personal and real property are not included.
Although these stupendous resources have hardly been touched, the state is showing a remarkable increase in its agricultural, live stock and industrial productions as is shown in the following table of the
Or, if we take the assessed valuation of the state for the year 1917, which is $247,976,465, we find that the per capita wealth would be $1,239. As the assessment is probably at least twenty per cent below actual value, that would show the average wealth of every individual in the state to be nearly $1,500.
Another fact disclosed by these statistics is the great increase in production during the year 1917. For instance, comparing different items with 1916, agriculture has increased seventy-three per cent, live stock over seventy per cent, and minerals sixty-eight per cent.
| Wyoming is now in an era of wonderful development. This is shown by some of the facts and figures heretofore given. For forty years after the territory was organized it was solely a range state. Some coal was mined along the Union Pacific, but nine-tenths of its area was first occupied by herds of cattle and bronco ponies and later, by an influx of sheep. Everj'where it was regarded as an unfenced wilderness and the national home of the cowboy and sheep herder. It was a frontier land.|
Now all is changed. A remarkable transformation has taken place. There is no longer any frontier, and in order to recall the memories of the days of the Indians and cowboys and the phases of pioneer life of territorial days, an annual Frontier Day celebration is held at Cheyenne every summer. The picturesque scenes, customs and exploits of the old Wyoming are reproduced in thrilling performances that attract crowds from all parts of the country and even from foreign lands.
While the live stock industry has increased under new and improved conditions in care, treatment and breeding, the state has realized a great transformation in the development, or rather, the beginning of development of its gigantic mineral deposits and added to that, the utilization of its great agricultural possibilities of "dry farming" and by large irrigation enterprises perfected under the Carey Act and the United States reclamation service. Wyoming is also the greatest state in the Union in its production of sheep and wool.
Within the last ten years thousands of settlers have come to the state and taken up dry farming and grazing homesteads and have been universally successful and prosperous. New towns have sprung up all over the state and with them have come banks, elevators, flouring mills, schools and all the conditions of high class communities.'
Large government irrigation projects upon which many millions have been spent have been completed and others are under construction. The completed projects are the Pathfinder, the North Platte and the Shoshone. Begun and partially constructed are the Wyoming Central, the Oregon Basin and the Wind River projects. Hundreds of other large and small irrigation enterprises are completed or in progress of construction in various parts of the state, some under the Carey Act and State supervision and others individual enterprises. Lands under irrigation to the extent of hundreds of thousands of acres are being rapidly settled up and will prove a great source of wealth to the settlers and the resources of the state.
Our greatest industrial development for the past ten years has been in the oil fields and the building of refineries resuUing from increased production. The industry has increased by leaps and bounds as will be shown in another chapter of this work. It is enough to say here that the value of the oil production in 1917 placed at $50,000,000 will be enormously increased with future development. The number of producing wells completed is given at four hundred and seventy-five and the number of wells now drilling is estimated at five hundred and fifty. The number of proven fields in the state is twenty-three. This will give some idea of what is only a beginning, as it is now believed by many geologists that Wyoming has the largest producing oil territory of any similar area in the world.
|In concluding this general review of the state, a feature important to its future welfare and the character of its citizenship, is its educational advantages. In this respect Wyoming takes high rank and with its splendid financial endowment promises to surpass most of the states of our land.|
The public schools have a permanent endowment of three million acres of land which cannot be sold in tracts, for less than ten dollars per acre, or a total value of thirty million dollars. Some of this land may not be worth ten dollars per acre, but on the other hand some sections having proved to be oil lands, is worth from five hundred to one thousand dollars per acre. This is leased by the state and a royalty on the production goes into the school fund and together with the receipts from sales of land and grazing leases, is made a permanent fund for all future time to be used exclusively for the maintenance of the public schools. At the present time the amount derived from these lands is about fifty thousand dollars per month or six hundred thousand dollars per annum. This income will soon reach one million dollars a year and may go far beyond that, and Wyoming will have the richest endowment of its schools, per capita of any state in the Union, and no citizen of the state will be compelled to pay a school tax. A public school system can be established that will include normal training, manual training, mechanical and art schools and night schools, so that every child in the state may obtain without cost a liberal education. Already the public spirit, liberality and intelligence of Wyoming's electorate has established an educational system based upon the most advanced ideas. Education is made compulsory, free text books are furnished, hygenic rules requiring physical examination are required, human treatment of animals must be taught, etc. Wyoming was the first state to adopt and introduce the Steever system of military training, and the legislature voted the necessary appropriations to equip the cadets.
The constitution of Wyoming has an intelligence qualification requiring that every voter shall be able to read the Constitution in the English language. The very first legislature of the state passed an act giving woman teachers the same pay as men for the same kind of service.
So it is, Wyoming, unsurpassed in the splendid opportunities it ofifers the industrial worker, the farmer and the capitalist, presents still greater attractions to the boys and girls, the ambitious youth of the nation, who prize an education above material wealth, and are proud to become citizens of this great state.