Wyomingite /wuy oh"ming uyt'/, n.
/wuy oh"ming/, n.
1. a state in the NW United States. 470,816; 97,914 sq. mi. (253,595 sq. km). Cap.: Cheyenne. Abbr.: WY (for use with zip code), Wyo., Wy.
2. a city in W Michigan, near Grand Rapids. 59,616.

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State (pop., 2000: 493,782), western U.S. It covers an area of 97,809 sq mi (253,326 sq km); its capital is Cheyenne.

Wyoming is bordered on the north and northwest by Montana, on the east by South Dakota and Nebraska, on the south by Colorado, on the southwest by Utah, and on the west by Idaho. It contains part of the Great Plains and the Black Hills. Its ranges of the Rocky Mountains include the Bighorn, Tetons, and Wind River. Wyoming's highest point is Gannett Peak, at 13,804 ft (4,207 m). The Continental Divide crosses it northwest to southeast. About three-fourths of its rivers drain eastward into the Missouri-Mississippi system. Its largest lake is Yellowstone Lake. Wyoming was already inhabited by Plains Indians, including the Shoshone, when it was first visited by European explorers during the 18th century. The Oregon and Overland trails crossed it. Most of the area was acquired by the U.S. from France in the Louisiana Purchase. The Lewis and Clark Expedition did not cross the area, but a member of the group, John Colter, strayed from the expedition and spent time in Wyoming. It was included in several U.S. territories before the organization of the Wyoming Territory in 1868. It adopted women's suffrage in 1869 and in 1889 was the first state to include that right in its constitution. In the years preceding statehood, it developed a thriving cattle industry. It was admitted to the Union in 1890 as the 44th state. In 1925 it elected the first U.S. woman governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross. Though livestock is still important to its modern economy, mining is increasingly influential and tourism is growing.

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      county, western New York state, U.S., consisting of a plateau region bounded by the Genesee River to the southeast. Cliffs as high as 600 feet (183 metres) line the Genesee in Letchworth State Park, which Wyoming county shares with Livingston county. Other waterways include Silver Lake and Tonawanda, Oatka, and East Koy creeks. Forested regions feature a mix of hardwoods.

      When European settlers first arrived, Iroquoian-speaking Seneca Indians inhabited lands near the Genesee. Located south of Attica, the Attica Correctional Facility was the site of a prison uprising in September 1971 that killed 43 people. Other towns are Perry, Arcade, and Warsaw, which is the county seat.

      The county was created in 1841, its name derived from a Delaware Indian word meaning “land of vast plains.” Manufacturing and agriculture (cattle, milk, and potatoes) are the main economic activities. Area 593 square miles (1,536 square km). Pop. (2000) 43,424; (2007 est.) 41,932.

      county, northeastern Pennsylvania, U.S., consisting of a mountainous region on the Allegheny Plateau that is bisected northwest-southeast by the Susquehanna River. Other principal waterways are Mehoopany, Tunkhannock, Bowman, and Meshoppen creeks, as well as Lakes Carey and Winola.

      The county was formed in 1842; its name was derived from a Delaware Indian word meaning “land of vast plains.” The county seat is Tunkhannock. The economy is based on agriculture and forest-related industries. Wyoming county is one of seven completely rural counties in Pennsylvania. Area 397 square miles (1,029 square km). Pop. (2000) 28,080; (2007 est.) 27,835.

Wyoming, flag of  constituent state of the United States of America. It is the ninth largest state, with an area of 97,809 square miles (253,326 square kilometres). It shares boundaries with six other Great Plains and Mountain states: South Dakota and Nebraska on the east, Colorado on the south, Utah on the southwest, Idaho on the west, and Montana on the northwest and north. Cheyenne, the state capital, is located in the state's southeastern corner. Wyoming was admitted to the Union as the 44th state on July 10, 1890. The state's name is derived from a Delaware Indian word meaning “land of vast plains,” an apt description of its spacious natural environment, which is home to nearly as many pronghorn as people. The state's residents are spread across the land in small ranching and farming towns, in mining settlements, and in communities offering unparalleled outdoor recreational opportunities. Each year millions of people visit Yellowstone (Yellowstone National Park) and Grand Teton national parks.

      Tens of thousands of pioneers crossed Wyoming along the Oregon, Overland, Mormon, Bozeman, and Bridger trails during the 19th century. The route of the short-lived Pony Express crossed the state along the Oregon Trail in 1860–61, as did the tracks of the Union Pacific Railroad (Union Pacific Railroad Company) when they first connected North America's east and west coasts in the late 1860s.

Physical and human geography

The land
  Wyoming's (Wyoming) topography is dominated by several large basins and the mountain ranges of the Rockies (Rocky Mountains) that border them. The broad basins are synclines, while the mountains dominating Wyoming's horizon were formed during a period of mountain-building activity known as the Laramide orogeny, which affected the region from 70,000,000 to 40,000,000 years ago. The land surface of Wyoming has a mean elevation of 6,700 feet (2,040 metres) above sea level, the highest in the United States after Colorado. Three-quarters of the state lies more than a mile (1,609 metres) high, and 40 percent exceeds 7,000 feet (2,100 metres) in elevation. Wyoming's lowest point of 3,125 feet (953 metres) lies in the channel of the Bell Fourche River as it flows from the state into South Dakota, and its highest point is Gannett Peak (13,804 feet [4,207 metres]) of the Wind River Range in west central Wyoming.

      Wyoming has six physiographic regions: the Black Hills; Great Plains; Southern, Middle, and Northern Rocky Mountains; and Wyoming Basin. The Black Hills extend into the state from South Dakota and are of generally low relief. Wyoming's Great Plains region occupies the easternmost one-third of the state, gradually increasing in elevation from the state's eastern border to the many mountain ranges that mark the region's western margin.

      The Southern Rocky Mountains extend from northeastern Colorado along the Laramie (Laramie Mountains), Medicine Bow, and Sierra Madre ranges, making their farthest extension into Wyoming along the Laramie Range, where the mountain system terminates just south of the North Platte River near the city of Casper. The Northern Rocky Mountain region extends south from Canada across Montana and Idaho and enters Wyoming at the northwestern corner of Yellowstone Park. The much larger Middle Rocky Mountain region occupies most of the northwestern quarter of the state, extending south along the Idaho–Wyoming border into Utah. Included in this region are the scenic Big Horn and Wind River mountain ranges, the geysers and fumaroles of Yellowstone Park, the igneous Absaroka Plateau on the park's eastern margins, and Gannett Peak.

      The Wyoming Basin is composed of interspersed smaller mountains and intermontane basins and is located between the Southern and Middle Rocky Mountains. This region includes Flaming Gorge, created by the Green River, and the Great Divide Basin that encloses an area of interior drainage with no outlet.

      The Continental Divide crosses Wyoming from the south central portion of the state, trending northwest and leaving the state through Yellowstone National Park. Partly because of the presence of the divide, Wyoming contributes to the headwaters of four major North American drainage systems—the Colorado, Columbia, and Missouri rivers and the Great Salt Lake. The most significant of these to the state is the Missouri system, which drains approximately three-fourths of Wyoming's land area. It is estimated that 75 percent of the state's contributions to these drainage systems originates as snowmelt in Wyoming's mountain ranges.

      Wyoming's several hundred soil types may be grouped into three broad categories determined largely on the basis of the state's variable elevation and climatic zones. Varieties of mountain soils are found throughout the many ranges in Wyoming, with their greatest concentration in the northwest. These soils are frequently acidic and of limited value to commercial cropping, although they may support alpine meadows used for summer pasture and scattered forests used for timber products. The southwestern to north central portions of the state contain numerous varieties of desert soils that are frequently alkaline and used mostly for winter range, although others are suitable for agricultural crops when irrigated. Plains soils, found in the eastern third of Wyoming, are of reasonable fertility and support moderate levels of dryland farming, including the production of wheat.

      Wyoming's climate is influenced by its interior location on the North American landmass (a condition termed continentality) and by its high mean elevation. The state includes areas of arid desert, semiarid steppe (short-grass prairie), and alpine climates. The arid desert regions are all found in the western half of the state and have average annual rates of precipitation of between four and eight inches (100 and 200 millimetres). More than 70 percent of the state is considered semiarid steppe and averages nine to 16 inches (230 to 410 millimetres) annually. Wyoming's mountains may receive much larger quantities of precipitation. In some mountainous areas total snowfall can exceed 200 inches (5,100 millimetres) annually and remain on the ground more than 150 days per year.

      Average monthly temperatures vary greatly across Wyoming. January mean temperatures range from a low of 10° F (-12° C) in the mountains to 28° F (-2° C) in the southeast. Mean July temperatures range from 50° F (10° C) in the mountains to 75° F (24° C) in the Big Horn Basin in north central Wyoming.

Plant and animal life
      Approximately 80 percent of Wyoming is covered with grasses and semidesert to desert shrubs. The state's forests are found largely in the mountains and along streams where sufficient soil moisture is available. Though there are some limited areas of hardwood trees, most of Wyoming's forests are composed of conifers, principally ponderosa pine in the northeast, lodgepole pine in the south central area, and Douglas fir, Engelmann spruce, and lodgepole pine in the northwest.

 Wyoming supports abundant animal life, including the largest number of pronghorn found anywhere. Pronghorn are located in every part of the state, with their greatest concentration in areas of sagebrush and grasses. The state also supports large numbers of whitetail and mule deer and lesser populations of wapiti (American elk) and moose. Black bears live in most of Wyoming's forested mountain areas, with grizzly bears in the high mountain and wilderness areas in and surrounding Yellowstone Park. Herds of American bison (buffalo) are found in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Grouse, quail, partridge, and pheasant are found in some of the state's uplands, and wild turkeys are common in many of the state's open woodlands.

Settlement patterns
      Wyoming's earliest pattern of sedentary occupancy by Europeans was determined by the locations of military posts such as Fort Laramie (1834–90) and Fort Bridger (1843–90). The building of the Union Pacific Railroad in the late 1860s led to the founding of several early settlements, including Cheyenne, Laramie, Rawlins, Rock Springs, and Evanston.

      Wyoming's current pattern of settlement is based upon its agricultural, mining, and recreational activities. There is no major metropolitan area, and the state's two largest urban areas, Casper and Cheyenne, are small cities by the standards of most states. The remainder of the state's towns and cities are typically small in population, having long expanses of Wyoming's wide open spaces between them. They are service centres for surrounding ranches and farms, mining operations, and recreational lands.

The people
      More than 95 percent of Wyoming's (Wyoming) residents are Caucasian. Although most of the state's Caucasian residents trace their roots directly to Europe, Mexican-Americans now account for about 5 percent of Wyoming's population. Blacks constitute less than 1 percent of the total population, most living in the Cheyenne area. Although Chinese immigrants were instrumental in the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad, Wyoming's Asian population today is small and numbers fewer than 2,000. Most Asians live in the state's southern counties in the cities of Cheyenne, Laramie, and Rock Springs. Nearly 2 percent of Wyoming's population is composed of American Indians (Native American), mostly of the Arapaho and Shoshone tribes. More than half of the Indian population lives on the 3,500-square-mile (9,065-square-kilometre) Wind River Reservation in the west central portion of Wyoming.

The economy
      Wyoming's economy is heavily tied to mining and agriculture (primarily the marketing of beef cattle and sheep). The state also has an important and growing tourist industry, serving the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the state's parks and historic sites. Manufacturing is of only minor importance.

      Wyoming is one of the top coal-producing states. Coal ranked as Wyoming's most valuable mineral resource prior to 1920 but is now third behind the state's oil and natural gas reserves. Of the oil and gas deposits found across the state, the largest known deposits are those in the northeast. There are also significant oil shale reserves in the southwest.

      Wyoming has substantial uranium deposits, estimated to account for one-third of the total reserves in the United States. The state's largest uranium deposits are found in the Red Desert, Shirley Basin, South Powder River basin, Gas Hills, and Pumpkin Buttes areas. Wyoming also contains quantities of trona (unrefined soda ash), bentonite clay (used as drilling mud), gypsum, limestone, and iron ore. Because of a rise in gold prices in the mid-1980s, gold exploration has increased in Wyoming, especially in the southern tip of the Wind River Range.

      As Wyoming's nickname, the Cowboy State, implies, ranching has historically been important to the state both economically and culturally. The state's rangelands are well suited to livestock production, and approximately 70 percent of the state's land area is devoted to livestock grazing. Wyoming is responsible for the production of much of the sheep, lambs, and beef cattle in the United States. The principal breed of sheep is Rambouillet; the principal breeds of cattle are Angus and Hereford.

      The major crop-producing areas in Wyoming are in the southeast and in the Big Horn and Wind River basins. Wyoming's most valuable grain crop is wheat; other important crops include oats, barley, hay, and corn (maize). Wyoming is a major producer of sugar beets, dry beans (including great northern and pinto beans), and potatoes.

 Tourism and recreation are major growth industries in Wyoming. They make a substantial contribution to the state's economy and account for approximately 10 percent of the total employment. The state government has increased its advertising of Wyoming's spectacular scenery and recreational opportunities. Among the principal sites for tourists are the state's parks and historic sites, Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and such attractions as Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area, Fort Laramie National Historic Site, and Devil's Tower and Fossil Buttes national monuments.

      The original path of the transcontinental railroad still serves as one of Wyoming's major transportation corridors. The tracks of the Union Pacific Railroad, which continue to carry substantial quantities of freight across the state, now share the corridor with Interstate 80, one of the country's most important east–west highways. A second east–west transportation corridor is Interstate 90. Wyoming's primary north–south transportation corridor is Interstate 25. The state is served by a network of paved highways and roads that include the scenic Yellowstone Highway, which connects Wyoming's largest city, Casper, with Yellowstone National Park.

      There is no passenger rail service in Wyoming, but commuter air carriers serve the state's major cities and recreational destinations, such as Cheyenne, Laramie, Casper, Cody, and Jackson Hole. Most commuter air service operations originate in Denver, Colo., or Salt Lake City, Utah. Additional flights are scheduled during the winter to serve skiing destinations such as Jackson Hole.

Administration and social conditions
      Wyoming's constitution, adopted in 1889, specifies three branches of state government: a legislature, an executive, and a judiciary. There are five elected executives—the governor, auditor, treasurer, superintendent of public instruction, and secretary of state; there is no lieutenant governor. All executive officers serve four-year terms. Each of the five elected state administrators supervises an area of state government with a substantial degree of autonomy.

      Wyoming's constitution specifies a bicameral legislature, including a House of Representatives and a Senate. The Senate has 30 members who are elected for four-year terms, while the House has 64 representatives who are elected every two years. Representation in both chambers is based upon county or district populations. Wyoming's legislature is composed of part-time citizen lawmakers who meet for limited legislative sessions each year.

      Wyoming's constitution also establishes a three-tier court system that includes local courts, nine district courts, and a Supreme Court. District court justices stand for reelection every six years. The state's Supreme Court has five justices who stand for reelection every eight years in non-partisan elections. Local courts include country courts and justices of the peace and municipal courts.

      At the local government level there are 23 counties and numerous municipalities, school districts, and special districts. The form of municipal government is by local option, the strong and weak mayor and the manager forms all being used. All counties use the commission form of government. The average county government provides services to a sparse population spread over 4,226 square miles, an area more than twice as large as the state of Delaware. Sweetwater county, in the southern portion of the state, alone accounts for 10,429 square miles. These large areas require a strong commitment to the effective provision of services on the part of local government officials and a measure of self-reliance on the part of Wyoming's population.

      Wyoming is politically conservative and has traditionally favoured the Republican Party in presidential contests. Wyoming has also sent a greater number of Republican senators and representatives to the U.S. Congress. Although Democratic victories are not uncommon in state executive-branch positions, there has not been a Democratic majority in the state Senate since 1936 or in the House since 1964.

      Compared with national averages, Wyoming's schools are small and have favourable teacher–pupil ratios. In the state's most isolated areas, kindergarten to eighth-grade students are still taught in one-teacher schools.

      The University of Wyoming (Wyoming, University of), located in Laramie, was founded in 1886 and is the state's only public four-year institution of higher learning. The university offers undergraduate study in more than 100 fields and has a variety of graduate degree programs. Wyoming also maintains two-year community colleges in Casper, Cheyenne, Sheridan, Powell, Rock Springs, Torrington, and Riverton.

Health and welfare
      Wyoming has unparalleled outdoor recreational opportunities, a low rate of crime, and little pollution. The state's population is well educated, with a proportion of both high school and college graduates above the national average. Personal income per capita in Wyoming is variable because of the state's dependence on mineral extraction but generally is among the highest in the Rocky Mountain region. Quality health-care facilities are located in the state's larger towns and cities, but there remains a demand for resident health-care professionals in many of the state's rural areas.

Cultural life
      Western traditions and culture remain very much a part of Wyoming life. Annual festivals that celebrate the state's Western heritage include county fairs, the Wyoming State Fair, held in Douglas each August, and Jubilee Days, held in Laramie in July. Many of these events are held in conjunction with rodeos. The world's largest rodeo is held each summer in Cheyenne during Frontier Days. Frontier Days has been held annually since 1897 and draws visitors from all parts of the world to watch events such as bronc riding, bull riding, calf roping, and barrel racing.

      Music companies and music festivals include the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra, Casper Civic Symphony, Grand Teton Music Festival in Teton Village, and the Wyoming Summer Music Festival in Laramie, which highlights chamber music. Several cities and towns in Wyoming have active theatre companies. There are also a number of museums in Wyoming, many preserving the state's colourful historical past. Every county in Wyoming has at least one library, with the state's largest being the William Robertson Coe Library, at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

      Wyoming's numerous state and national parks provide nearly unparalleled opportunities for camping, hiking, and observing wildlife. Nearly the entire expanse of the world's oldest national park, Yellowstone, is found within the borders of Wyoming, making it readily accessible to the state's residents. A large number of Wyomingites also regularly take advantage of the state's excellent hunting and fishing opportunities.


Prehistory to white exploration
      The first occupants of Wyoming were Paleo-Indian hunters and gatherers who arrived from Siberia through Alaska more than 20,000 years ago. The total number of these peoples was never large because they were highly dependent upon local game populations. By the time the first well-documented visits by white men to Wyoming occurred, the state's population likely did not exceed 10,000. The Shoshone were the largest tribal group in Wyoming around 1800, but there were also smaller numbers of Arapaho, Crow, Cheyenne, and Oglala and Brulé Dakota (Sioux).

      The first known white men to enter Wyoming were the French-Canadian brothers François and Louis-Joseph, sons of Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de la Vérendrye. The brothers visited the northeastern corner of the state in 1743 while unsuccessfully searching for a route to the Pacific Ocean. Although the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–06) missed Wyoming by 60 miles, a member of the group, John Colter (Colter, John), broke away from the main party and trapped in northern Wyoming for some time; the official journal of the expedition includes Colter's route and descriptions of the Jackson Hole and Yellowstone Park (Yellowstone National Park) areas.

fur trade and the Union Pacific Railroad
      The early explorers were followed later by small numbers of fur traders. Although there were likely never more than 500 of these mountain men in Wyoming at any given time, the state's economy between 1825 and 1840 was heavily dependent on the activities of such famous trappers and traders as Jim Bridger, William Sublette, Jedediah Smith, and Thomas Fitzpatrick.

      The number of people entering the Wyoming area increased with the westward movement of the American population. As many as 400,000 emigrants crossed Wyoming between 1841 and 1868 on the trails leading to what is now Oregon, Washington, Montana, Utah, and California. In 1850 alone it is estimated that as many as 55,000 crossed the future state. Pony Express riders, including Buffalo Bill Cody, carried the mail across Wyoming between April 1860 and October 1861.

      In November 1867 the first train of the Union Pacific Railroad (Union Pacific Railroad Company) reached Cheyenne and opened Wyoming as never before. Cheyenne grew from a handful of people to more than 6,000 in the first year, though the town consisted largely of tents and shacks with a limited number of commercial buildings. This rapid population growth continued in southern Wyoming as the Union Pacific tracks continued across the state, finally entering Utah in 1868. The building of the railroad focused attention on the West, and the Wyoming Territory was created on July 25, 1868.

The state
      The state's constitution was approved by a vote of the territorial population on Nov. 5, 1889, although Wyoming was not admitted to the Union until 1890. Wyoming's constitution was the first in the world to grant full voting rights to women. Wyoming was also the first state to elect a woman (woman suffrage) governor when Nellie Tayloe Ross (Ross, Nellie Tayloe) won the position in 1924. Because of these developments Wyoming has been called the Equality State.

      In the years preceding statehood Wyoming developed its thriving cattle industry. The state's immense rangelands fostered the initiation of the cowboy era that was chronicled in Owen Wister's The Virginian (1902), based on his experience in turn-of-the-century Wyoming. Although frequently exaggerated by Hollywood, this era was marked by violence on the range between cattlemen, homesteaders, and sheepherders that continued well after 1900.

      Although Wyoming retains its Western heritage and personality, employment in the state is now more characterized by mining than by the cowboy life. The state's reliance on the energy industries of coal, oil, natural gas, and uranium has made Wyoming subject to “boom-and-bust” cycles that depend on world prices for its products. During the energy boom of the 1970s, for example, the state's population grew at nearly four times the national rate and had one of the highest incomes per capita in the country. The world oil supply glut of the 1980s, on the other hand, caused a substantial downturn in the state's economy that led to significant population out-migration. The state is making an effort to diversify its economy in such areas as tourism, but there is little doubt that Wyoming's long-term economic future is tied to mining.

Gerald Raymond Webster

Additional Reading
Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Wyoming, Wyoming: A Guide to Its History, Highways, and People (1941, reprinted 1981), provides a still-useful overview of the state. Robert Harold Brown, Wyoming: A Geography (1980), describes the land and its resources. DeLorme Mapping Company, Wyoming Atlas & Gazetteer, 2nd ed. (1998), contains topographic maps. David Lageson and Darwin Spearing, Roadside Geology of Wyoming (1988); and D.L. Blackstone, Jr., Traveler's Guide to the Geology of Wyoming, 2nd ed. (1988), trace the state's geologic history. Mae Urbanek, Wyoming Place Names (1988), combines geography and local history.Wyoming's history is chronicled in T.A. Larson, Wyoming (1977, reissued 1984), an introduction, and History of Wyoming, 2nd ed., rev. (1978). Ongoing historical research is reported in Annals of Wyoming (quarterly).Gerald Raymond Webster

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Universalium. 2010.

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