The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History



“History is not was, it is.” -- William Faulkner

Below are links to the first two of an upcoming series of educational packages on WyoHistory.org. The packages include groups of articles on a single theme in Wyoming history—in this case, the Oregon, California, Mormon and Pony Express trails, which, for most of the way across Wyoming, were all more or less one road in the mid-1800s, and the Indian Wars of the turbulent 1860s and 1870s.

The articles in the package are further enhanced with extra items for students and teachers—detailed maps, lesson plans for field trips to the historic sites, videos and interactive quizzes.

The lesson plans also specify how the materials address the latest version of Wyoming’s Social Studies Content and Performance Standards, benchmarked for the ends of grades 2, 5, 8 and 12.

One of the great things about Wyoming is how similar so much of it looks to how it must have looked 50, 100 and 150 years ago. Visiting historic sites always offers vivid ways to understand and imagine the past. One of our central purposes here is to make it easy to do just that.

This material was developed in close cooperation with a Casper, Wyo.-based committee of elementary, middle, secondary and community college educators, museum professionals and an archivist. We are grateful to them and to the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund and the Central Wyoming Board of Cooperative Educational Service for their support.

Future topics will include Wyoming’s mining, energy and industrial past, and more. Send comments and suggestions to editor@wyohistory.org.

The Oregon, Mormon Pioneer and California trails all cross Wyoming in the central and most popular corridor of the transcontinental migration of the 1840s, 1850s and 1860s. The trails followed the North Platte and Sweetwater rivers west to South Pass, after which they divided into various routes bound for Oregon, Utah or California. As many as half a million people may have traveled this corridor in the 19th century. To many, the environments of the Great Plains, Rocky Mountains and Great Basin seemed like another planet, full of strange and alien landscapes.

During the Indian Wars of the 1860s and 1870s, all sides fought to control the land, travel safely, and protect their families and their futures.