Wind River Range
The Wind River Range, is a mountain range of the Rocky Mountains in western Wyoming in the United States. The range runs NW–SE for 100 miles; the Continental Divide follows the crest of the range and includes Gannett Peak, which at 13,804 feet, is the highest peak in Wyoming. There are more than 40 other named peaks in excess of 13,000 feet. With the exception of the Grand Teton in the Teton Range, the next 19 highest peaks in Wyoming after Gannett are in the Winds. Two large National Forests including three wilderness areas encompass most of the mountain range. Shoshone National Forest is on the eastern side of the continental divide while Bridger-Teton National Forest is on the west. Both National Forests and the entire mountain range are an integral part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Portions of the range are inside the Wind River Indian Reservation. Indigenous peoples of the Great Basin, such as the Shoshones and Absarokas Native Americans, lived in the range beginning 7000 and 9000 years ago.
Villages as high as 10,000 feet in elevation, dating from 700 to 2000 BC, have been studied by archaeologists. These villages were established by the Sheepeater band of Shoshone during pine nut harvesting season. One, dubbed "High Rise", has 60 lodges over a space of 26 acres and was added to the National Register of Historic Places. One of the men from the Lewis and Clark expedition, John Colter, is thought to be the first European American person to view the range when he visited the area around 1807, though little is known about his travels through the area. In 1812, a party led by Wilson Price Hunt were the first to cross South Pass, at the southern end of the range, the pass which marked the continental divide and crest of the Rocky Mountains and became an important portion of the Oregon Trail. Climbing was pursued in the mid to late 1800s by men such as John C. Fremont for the purpose of surveying the region. Early climbers to come purely for recreation began arriving in the 1920s. Gannett Peak, the range and Wyoming's tallest, was first climbed by Arthur Tate and Floyd Stahlnaker in 1922.
Most of the early climbing in the region focused around the Titcomb Basin radiating outwards. Today, the Titcomb Basin remains one of the area's busiest recreation attractions along with the Cirque of the Towers to the south. Much of the Wind River Range received federal protection as National Forest primitive areas during 1931-32; the Wind River Range is now protected by three federal wilderness areas. These include the Bridger Wilderness on the western slope, designated in 1964, the Fitzpatrick Wilderness and Popo Agie Wilderness on the eastern slope, designated in 1976 and 1984 respectively. Together these wilderness areas protect 728,020 acres, making the Wind River Range one of the largest road-free areas in the continental United States. Part of the eastern slope of the Wind River Range is under the protection of the Wind River Indian Reservation; the Winds are composed of a granitic batholith, granite rock formed deep under the surface of the Earth, over one billion years ago. Over hundreds of millions of years, rocks that were once covering this batholith eroded away.
As the land continued to rise during the Laramide orogeny, further erosion occurred until all that remained were the granitic rocks. The ice ages beginning 500,000 years ago began carving the rocks into their present shapes. Within the Winds, numerous lakes were formed by the glaciers and numerous cirques, or circular valleys, were carved out of the rocks, the most well known being the Cirque of the Towers, in the southern section of the range. Shoshone National Forest claims that there are 16 named and 140 unnamed glaciers just on the east side of the range for a total of 156, with another 27 reported by Bridger-Teton National Forest for the western slopes of the range. Several of these are the largest glaciers in the U. S. Rocky Mountains. Gannett Glacier which flows down the north slope of Gannett Peak, is the largest single glacier in the Rocky Mountains of the U. S. and is located in the Fitzpatrick Wilderness in Shoshone National Forest. Several major rivers have headwaters on either side of the range.
The Green and Big Sandy rivers drain southward from the west side of the range, while the Wind River drains eastward through the Shoshone Basin. The Green is the largest fork of the Colorado River while the Wind River, after changing its name to the Bighorn River, is the largest fork of the Yellowstone River The Bridger Wilderness contains over 1,300 lakes; these lakes range in size from less than 3 acres to over 200 acres, with an average size of about 10 acres. The lakes and streams of the Bridger Wilderness were devoid of fish, as were most alpine lakes throughout the Rocky Mountains; the first known transplant of fish into the area took place in 1907 when Colorado River cutthroat trout were introduced into North Fork Lake. Considerable fish stocking by individuals, the U. S. Forest Service, the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, occurred between 1924 and 1935; the Winds are known to have a small grizzly bear population in the northernmost areas. Other mammals include the black bear, moose, mule deer, bighorn sheep, mountain lion and wolverine.
Bald eagles and hawks are just a few of the 300 species of birds known to inhabit the region. The streams and lakes are home to Yellowstone cutthroat, brook, brown and golden trout—about 2.5 million of which were stocked by a local explorer named Finis Mitchell and his wife during the Great Depression. The forests are dominated by lodgepole pine, whitebark pine, subalpine fir, Engelmann spruce; the range sits
John C. Frémont
John Charles Frémont or Fremont was an American explorer and soldier who, in 1856, became the first candidate of the Republican Party for the office of President of the United States. During the 1840s, when he led five expeditions into the American West, that era's penny press and admiring historians accorded Frémont the sobriquet The Pathfinder. During the Mexican–American War, Frémont, a major in the U. S. Army, took control of California from the California Republic in 1846. Frémont was convicted in court-martial for mutiny and insubordination over a conflict of, the rightful military governor of California. After his sentence was commuted and he was reinstated by President Polk, Frémont resigned from the Army. Frémont led a private fourth expedition, which cost ten lives, seeking a rail route over the mountains around the 38th parallel in the winter of 1849. Afterwards, Frémont settled in California at Monterey while buying cheap land in the Sierra foothills; when gold was found on his Mariposa ranch, Frémont became a wealthy man during the California Gold Rush, but he was soon bogged down with lawsuits over land claims, between the dispossession of various land owners during the Mexican–American War and the explosion of Forty-Niners immigrating during the Rush.
These cases were settled by the U. S. Supreme Court allowing Frémont to keep his property. Frémont's fifth and final funded expedition, between 1853 and 1854, surveyed a route for a transcontinental railroad. Frémont became one of the first two U. S. senators elected from the new state of California in 1850. Frémont was the first presidential candidate of the new Republican Party, carrying most of the North, he lost the 1856 presidential election to Democrat James Buchanan. Democrats warned. During the American Civil War, he was given command of Department of the West by President Abraham Lincoln. Although Frémont had successes during his brief tenure as Commander of the Western Armies, he ran his department autocratically, made hasty decisions without consulting Washington D. C. or President Lincoln. After Frémont's emancipation edict that freed slaves in his district, he was relieved of his command by President Lincoln for insubordination. In 1861, Frémont was the first commanding Union general who recognized in Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant an "iron will" to fight and promoted him commander at the strategic base near Cairo, Illinois.
Defeating the Confederates at Springfield, Frémont was the only Union General in the West to have a Union victory for 1861. After a brief service tenure in the Mountain Department in 1862, Frémont resided in New York, retiring from the Army in 1864; the same year Frémont was a presidential candidate for the Radical Democracy Party, but he resigned before the election. After the Civil War, Frémont's wealth declined after investing and purchasing an unsuccessful Pacific Railroad in 1866, lost much of his wealth during the Panic of 1873. Frémont served as Governor of Arizona from 1878 to 1881 appointed by President Rutherford B. Hayes. Frémont retired from politics and died destitute in New York City in 1890. Historians portray Frémont as controversial and contradictory; some scholars regard him as a military hero of significant accomplishment, while others view him as a failure who defeated his own best purposes. The keys to Frémont's character and personality may lie in his being born illegitimately, his ambitious drive for success, self-justification, passive-aggressive behavior.
Frémont's published reports and maps produced from his explorations contributed to massive American emigration overland into the West starting in the 1840s. In June 1846, Frémont's and his army expedition's return to California, spurred the formation of the California Battalion, his military advice led to the capture of Sonoma, the formation of the Bear Flag Republic. Many people during his lifetime believed his court martial by General Kearny in 1848 was unjustified, his biographer Allan Nevins in 1939 believed that Frémont lived a dramatic lifestyle, one of remarkable successes, one of dismal failures. John Charles Frémont was born on January 21, 1813, the son of Charles Frémon, a French-Canadian immigrant school-teacher, Anne Beverley Whiting, the youngest daughter of prominent Virginia planter Col. Thomas Whiting. At age 17, Anne married a wealthy Richmond resident in his early 60s. In 1810, Pryor hired Frémon to tutor his young wife Anne. Pryor confronted Anne when he found out she was having an affair with Frémon.
Anne and Frémon fled to Williamsburg on July 10, 1811 settling in Norfolk, taking with them household slaves Anne had inherited. The couple settled in Savannah, where she gave birth to their son Frémont out of wedlock. Pryor published a divorce petition in the Virginia Patriot, charged that his wife had "for some time past indulged in criminal intercourse"; when the Virginia House of Delegates refused Anne's divorce petition, it was impossible for the couple to marry. In Savannah, Anne took in boarders while Frémon taught dancing. A woman enslaved in the household, Black Hannah, helped raise young John. On December 8, 1818, Frémont's father Frémon died in Norfolk, leaving Anne a widow to take care of John and several young children alone on a limited inherited income. Anne and her family moved to South Carolina. Frémont, knowing his origins and coming from modest means, grew up a proud, restless loner who although self-disciplined, was ready to prove himself and unwilling to play by the rules.
The young Frémont was considered to be "precious and daring," having the a
Sweetwater County, Wyoming
Sweetwater County is a county in southwestern Wyoming, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 43,806, its county seat is Green River. By area, it is the largest county in Wyoming, its southern boundary line abuts the north lines of the states of Utah. Sweetwater County comprises Green River, Wyoming Micropolitan Statistical Area. Sweetwater County was created on December 1867 as a county within the Dakota Territory; the county was formed of territory partitioned from Laramie County. The county was named Carter County for Judge W. A. Carter of Fort Bridger In 1869, the newly established legislature of the Wyoming Territory renamed the county for the Sweetwater River. In 1869, Uinta County was organized with land ceded by Sweetwater County. Johnson County named Pease County, was formed from parts of Sweetwater and Carbon counties in 1875. In 1884, Sweetwater County lost territory. Sweetwater County lost territory when its boundary with Carbon County was adjusted in 1886.
County boundaries were adjusted in 1909, 1911, 1951. South Pass City was the county seat from 1867 until 1873, when the county seat was moved to Green River. According to the US Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 10,491 square miles, of which 10,427 square miles is land and 64 square miles is water; the largest county in Wyoming, Sweetwater County is larger than six states and is the eighth-largest county in the United States. Most of the Great Divide Basin lies within the county. Ashley National Forest Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge As of the 2000 United States Census, of 2000, there were 37,613 people, 14,105 households, 10,099 families in the county; the population density was 4 people per square mile. There were 15,921 housing units at an average density of 2 per square mile; the racial makeup of the county was 91.62% White, 0.73% Black or African American, 1.01% Native American, 0.64% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 3.59% from other races, 2.37% from two or more races.
9.42% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 16.4 % are of 16.2 % German, 9 % Irish and 5 % Italian ancestry. There were 14,105 households out of which 38.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.80% were married couples living together, 9.20% had a female householder with no husband present, 28.40% were non-families. 23.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.90% had someone living alone, 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.11. The county population contained 28.90% under the age of 18, 10.10% from 18 to 24, 29.30% from 25 to 44, 23.70% from 45 to 64, 8.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 102.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.10 males. The median income for a household in the county was $46,537, the median income for a family was $54,173. Males had a median income of $45,678 versus $22,440 for females.
The per capita income for the county was $19,575. About 5.40% of families and 7.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.20% of those under age 18 and 7.00% of those age 65 or over. As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 43,806 people, 16,475 households, 11,405 families in the county; the population density was 4.2 inhabitants per square mile. There were 18,735 housing units at an average density of 1.8 per square mile. The racial makeup of the county was 88.5% white, 1.0% American Indian, 1.0% black or African American, 0.8% Asian, 0.1% Pacific islander, 6.4% from other races, 2.3% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 15.3% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 22.4% were German, 19.0% were English, 13.0% were Irish, 7.4% were Italian, 4.4% were American. Of the 16,475 households, 36.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.5% were married couples living together, 9.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 30.8% were non-families, 24.0% of all households were made up of individuals.
The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.09. The median age was 32.8 years. The median income for a household in the county was $69,828 and the median income for a family was $79,527. Males had a median income of $65,174 versus $31,738 for females; the per capita income for the county was $30,961. About 6.1% of families and 8.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.0% of those under age 18 and 5.0% of those age 65 or over. Sweetwater County was a Democratic stronghold in Wyoming until recent years, voting Democratic in eleven consecutive presidential elections between 1928 and 1968, after supporting Progressive Robert La Follette senior in 1924. In 1928, 1952, 1956 and 1976 it was the only Wyoming county to support the Democratic Presidential nominee. Nonetheless, no Democratic presidential candidate has won Sweetwater County since Bill Clinton in 1996. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won just 18.9 percent of the vote in the county. At the state level, Sweetwater County is represented by three Democrats and three Republicans in the Wyoming House of Representatives, two Democrats and one Republican in the Wyoming Senate.
County commissioners Green River Rock Springs Sweetwater County is served by three print publications: Rock Springs Daily Rocket-Miner and The Green River Star. Sweetwater County is served by two hyperlocal news websites, SweetwaterNOW.com a
Wyoming's at-large congressional district
Wyoming's at-large Congressional District is the sole congressional district for the state of Wyoming. It is the third largest congressional district in the United States; the district is represented by Republican Liz Cheney. The district was first created when Wyoming achieved statehood on July 10, 1890, electing a single member. Since its creation, Wyoming has retained a single congressional district; the district was created upon Wyoming statehood in 1890. As of February 2017, three former members of the U. S. House of Representatives from Wyoming's at-large congressional district are alive. Martis, Kenneth C.. The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company. Martis, Kenneth C.. The Historical Atlas of United States Congressional Districts. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company. Congressional Biographical Directory of the United States 1774–present
Carbon County, Wyoming
Carbon County is a county in the U. S. state of Wyoming. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 15,885, its county seat is Rawlins. Its south border abuts the north line of Colorado. Carbon County was organized in one of the five original counties in Dakota Territory. About 3,400 square miles in the center of Carbon County were once part of the Spanish Empire part of the Republic of Texas and part of the State of Texas until 1852 when the northernmost part of that state was ceded to the US government; this area is defined by the 42nd parallel on the north, straight lines south from there to the headwaters of the Arkansas river on the east and the headwaters of the Rio Grande on the west. The documents defining that area include the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819, the 1824 Constitution of Mexico, the 1845 "Joint Resolution for the Admission of the State of Texas into the Union". Carbon County was organized December 16, 1868, from Laramie County in Dakota Territory, which at the time had jurisdiction over part of modern-day Wyoming.
It became a county in Wyoming Territory when that territory's government was formally organized on May 19, 1869. In 1868, the Union Pacific Railroad opened the first coal mine in Carbon County, the county was named for its extensive coal deposits. In 1875, Carbon County lost territory when Johnson County was created by the legislature of the Wyoming Territory. Natrona County was created with land ceded by Carbon County in 1888; the boundaries of the county were final at that time except for minor adjustments in 1911. From 1978-1982, Carbon County was represented in the Wyoming House of Representatives by Democrat Thomas E. Trowbridge of Saratoga, a Nebraska native. From 1982-1986, Trowbridge was a member of the Wyoming State Senate, he was appointed by Governor Mike Sullivan to the Wyoming State Board of Equalization. Trowbridge's father, Elton Trowbridge, held the state House seat from Carbon County from 1961 until his death in office in 1974. George R. Salisbury, Jr. a rancher from Savery, represented Carbon County in the Wyoming House from 1975-1986.
He was succeeded in office by his son-in-law and fellow Democrat, Patrick F. O'Toole a Savery rancher. According to the US Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 7,964 square miles, of which 7,898 square miles is land and 66 square miles is water, it is the third-largest county in Wyoming by area. Interstate 80 U. S. Highway 30 U. S. Highway 287 Fort Fred Steele State Historic Site Medicine Bow National Forest Pathfinder National Wildlife Refuge As of the 2000 United States Census, there were 15,639 people, 6,129 households, 4,130 families in the county; the population density was 2 people per square mile. There were 8,307 housing units at an average density of 1 per square mile; the racial makeup of the county was 90.11% White, 0.67% African-American or Black, 1.27% Indigenous American, 0.67% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 5.17% from other races, 2.05% from two or more races. 13.83% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 20.1% were of German, 11.8% English, 10.0% Irish and 8.9% American ancestry.
There were 6,129 households out of which 31.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.10% were married couples living together, 8.30% had a female householder with no husband present, 32.60% were non-families. Of 6,129 households, 364 were unmarried partner households: 318 heterosexual, 41 same-sex male, 5 same-sex female. 27.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.60% had someone living alone, 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.91. The county population contained 24.10% under the age of 18, 8.60% from 18 to 24, 28.40% from 25 to 44, 26.70% from 45 to 64, 12.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 115.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 118.10 males. The median income for a household in the county was $36,060, the median income for a family was $41,991. Males had a median income of $31,603 versus $21,451 for females; the per capita income for the county was $18,375.
About 9.80% of families and 12.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.60% of those under age 18 and 14.80% of those age 65 or over. As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 15,885 people, 6,388 households, 4,109 families in the county; the population density was 2.0 inhabitants per square mile. There were 8,576 housing units at an average density of 1.1 per square mile. The racial makeup of the county was 88.8% white, 1.0% American Indian, 0.7% black or African American, 0.7% Asian, 0.1% Pacific islander, 6.5% from other races, 2.2% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 16.8% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 26.0% were German, 15.8% were English, 14.4% were Irish, 5.6% were Scottish, 4.8% were American. Of the 6,388 households, 30.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.5% were married couples living together, 7.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 35.7% were non-families, 29.6% of all households were made up of individuals.
The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.91. The median age was 38.9 years. The median income for a household in the county was $56,565 and the median income for a family was $65,171. Males had a median income of $51,201 versus $32,603 for females; the per capita income for the county was $26,122. About 5.6% of families and 8.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.6% of those under age 18 and 9.6% of those age 65 or over.<ref">"Selected Economic Characteri
The Oregon Trail is a 2,170-mile historic East–West, large-wheeled wagon route and emigrant trail in the United States that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon. The eastern part of the Oregon Trail spanned part of the future state of Kansas, nearly all of what are now the states of Nebraska and Wyoming; the western half of the trail spanned most of the future states of Oregon. The Oregon Trail was laid by fur traders and trappers from about 1811 to 1840, was only passable on foot or by horseback. By 1836, when the first migrant wagon train was organized in Independence, Missouri, a wagon trail had been cleared to Fort Hall, Idaho. Wagon trails were cleared farther west, reached all the way to the Willamette Valley in Oregon, at which point what came to be called the Oregon Trail was complete as annual improvements were made in the form of bridges, cutoffs and roads, which made the trip faster and safer. From various starting points in Iowa, Missouri, or Nebraska Territory, the routes converged along the lower Platte River Valley near Fort Kearny, Nebraska Territory and led to rich farmlands west of the Rocky Mountains.
From the early to mid-1830s the Oregon Trail and its many offshoots were used by about 400,000 settlers, miners and business owners and their families. The eastern half of the trail was used by travelers on the California Trail, Mormon Trail, Bozeman Trail, before turning off to their separate destinations. Use of the trail declined as the first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, making the trip west faster and safer. Today, modern highways, such as Interstate 80 and Interstate 84, follow parts of the same course westward and pass through towns established to serve those using the Oregon Trail. In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson issued the following instructions to Meriwether Lewis: "The object of your mission is to explore the Missouri river, & such principal stream of it, as, by its course & communication with the waters of the Pacific Ocean, whether the Columbia, Colorado and/or other river may offer the most direct & practicable water communication across this continent, for the purposes of commerce."
Although Lewis and William Clark found a path to the Pacific Ocean, it was not until 1859 that a direct and practicable route, the Mullan Road, connected the Missouri River to the Columbia River. The first land route across what is now the United States was mapped by the Lewis and Clark Expedition between 1804 and 1806. Lewis and Clark believed they had found a practical overland route to the west coast. On the return trip in 1806, they traveled from the Columbia River to the Snake River and the Clearwater River over Lolo pass again, they traveled overland up the Blackfoot River and crossed the Continental Divide at Lewis and Clark Pass and on to the head of the Missouri River. This was a shorter and faster route than the one they followed west; this route had the disadvantages of being much too rough for wagons and controlled by the Blackfoot Indians. Though Lewis and Clark had only traveled a narrow portion of the upper Missouri River drainage and part of the Columbia River drainage, these were considered the two major rivers draining most of the Rocky Mountains, the expedition confirmed that there was no "easy" route through the northern Rocky Mountains as Jefferson had hoped.
Nonetheless, this famous expedition had mapped both the eastern and western river valleys that bookend the route of the Oregon Trail across the continental divide—they just had not located the South Pass or some of the interconnecting valleys used in the high country. They did show the way for the mountain men, who within a decade would find a better way across if it was not to be an easy way. Founded by John Jacob Astor as a subsidiary of his American Fur Company in 1810, the Pacific Fur Company operated in the Pacific Northwest in the ongoing North American fur trade. Two movements of PFC employees were planned by Astor, one detachment to be sent to the Columbia River by the Tonquin and the other overland under an expedition led by Wilson Price Hunt. Hunt and his party were to find possible supply routes and trapping territories for further fur trading posts. Upon arriving at the river in March 1811, the Tonquin crew began construction of what became Fort Astoria; the ship left supplies and men to continue work on the station and ventured north up the coast to Clayoquot Sound for a trading expedition.
While anchored there, Jonathan Thorn insulted an elder Tla-o-qui-aht, elected by the natives to negotiate a mutually satisfactory price for animal pelts. Soon after, the vessel was attacked and overwhelmed by the indigenous Clayoquot killing most of the crew except its Quinault interpreter, who told the PFC management at Fort Astoria of the destruction; the next day, the ship was blown up by surviving crew members. Under Hunt, fearing attack by the Niitsitapi, the overland expedition veered south of Lewis and Clark's route into what is now Wyoming and in the process passed across Union Pass and into Jackson Hole, Wyoming. From there they went over the Teton Range via Teton Pass and down to the Snake River into modern Idaho, they abandoned their horses at the Snake River, made dugout canoes, attempted to use the river for transport. After a few days' travel they soon discovered that steep canyon
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the western United States. The state is the 10th largest by area, the least populous, the second most sparsely populated state in the country. Wyoming is bordered on the north by Montana, on the east by South Dakota and Nebraska, on the south by Colorado, on the southwest by Utah, on the west by Idaho and Montana; the state population was estimated at 577,737 in 2018, less than 31 of the most populous U. S. cities including Denver in neighboring Colorado. Cheyenne is the state capital and the most populous city, with an estimated population of 63,624 in 2017; the western two-thirds of the state is covered by the mountain ranges and rangelands of the Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie called the High Plains. Half of the land in Wyoming is owned by the U. S. government, leading Wyoming to rank sixth by area and fifth by proportion of a state's land owned by the federal government. Federal lands include two national parks—Grand Teton and Yellowstone—two national recreation areas, two national monuments, several national forests, historic sites, fish hatcheries, wildlife refuges.
Original inhabitants of the region include the Crow, Arapaho and Shoshone. Southwestern Wyoming was in the Spanish Empire and Mexican territory until it was ceded to the United States in 1848 at the end of the Mexican–American War; the region acquired the name Wyoming when a bill was introduced to the U. S. Congress in 1865 to provide a "temporary government for the territory of Wyoming"; the name was used earlier for the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania, is derived from the Munsee word xwé:wamənk, meaning "at the big river flat". The main drivers of Wyoming's economy are mineral extraction—mostly coal, natural gas, trona—and tourism. Agricultural commodities include livestock, sugar beets and wool; the climate is semi-arid and continental and windier than the rest of the U. S. with greater temperature extremes. Wyoming has been a politically conservative state since the 1950s, with the Republican Party candidate winning every presidential election except 1964. Wyoming's climate is semi-arid and continental, is drier and windier in comparison to most of the United States with greater temperature extremes.
Much of this is due to the topography of the state. Summers in Wyoming are warm with July high temperatures averaging between 85 and 95 °F in most of the state. With increasing elevation, this average drops with locations above 9,000 feet averaging around 70 °F. Summer nights throughout the state are characterized by a rapid cooldown with the hottest locations averaging in the 50–60 °F range at night. In most of the state, most of the precipitation tends to fall in early summer. Winters are cold, but are variable with periods of sometimes extreme cold interspersed between mild periods, with Chinook winds providing unusually warm temperatures in some locations. Wyoming is a dry state with much of the land receiving less than 10 inches of rainfall per year. Precipitation depends on elevation with lower areas in the Big Horn Basin averaging 5–8 inches; the lower areas in the North and on the eastern plains average around 10–12 inches, making the climate there semi-arid. Some mountain areas do receive a good amount of precipitation, 20 inches or more, much of it as snow, sometimes 200 inches or more annually.
The state's highest recorded temperature is 114 °F at Basin on July 12, 1900 and the lowest recorded temperature is −66 °F at Riverside on February 9, 1933. The number of thunderstorm days vary across the state with the southeastern plains of the state having the most days of thunderstorm activity. Thunderstorm activity in the state is highest during early summer; the southeastern corner of the state is the most vulnerable part of the state to tornado activity. Moving away from that point and westwards, the incidence of tornadoes drops with the west part of the state showing little vulnerability. Tornadoes, where they occur, tend to be small and brief, unlike some of those that occur farther east; as specified in the designating legislation for the Territory of Wyoming, Wyoming's borders are lines of latitude 41°N and 45°N, longitude 104°3'W and 111°3'W, making the shape of the state a latitude-longitude quadrangle. Wyoming is one of only three states to have borders along only straight latitudinal and longitudinal lines, rather than being defined by natural landmarks.
Due to surveying inaccuracies during the 19th century, Wyoming's legal border deviates from the true latitude and longitude lines by up to half of a mile in some spots in the mountainous region along the 45th parallel. Wyoming is bordered on the north by Montana, on the east by South Dakota and Nebraska, on the south by Colorado, on the southwest by Utah, on the west by Idaho, it is the tenth largest state in the United States in total area, containing 97,814 square miles and is made up of 23 counties. From the north border to the south border it is 276 miles; the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming. The state is a great plateau broken by many mountain ranges. Surface elevations range from the summit of Gannett Peak in the Wind River Mountain Range, at 13,804 feet, to the Belle Fourche River val