WyoHistory.org

The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

Phil Roberts

Phil Roberts

Phil Roberts is emeritus professor of history at the University of Wyoming.
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Encyclopedia | The automobile age arrived in Wyoming almost unnoticed. While the Spanish American War dominated headlines, Elmer Lovejoy was building Wyoming’s first car in his Laramie bicycle shop during the winter of 1897-98. Townspeople thought the machine an “interesting toy,” but Lovejoy stuck with his tinkering, with some surprising long-term results.
Encyclopedia | Invented by Samuel F. B. Morse in the 1830s, the telegraph was already maturing when it crossed what soon became Wyoming in the 1860s. From the early days of settlement and through the railroad period, Wyomingites—and the nation—relied  on it.
Encyclopedia | The Americans with Disabilities Act was far in the future when a group of Lusk, Wyo. residents first met to propose statewide legislation to make buildings, sidewalks and other public areas accessible for disabled people.
Encyclopedia | Rough Riders are usually associated with Theodore Roosevelt, but his was not the only cowboy regiment organized to fight in the Spanish American War of 1898. Wyoming had its rough riders, too, but due to a train mishap and the shortness of the war, they never saw combat.
Encyclopedia | The federal government finally entered the irrigation business in 1902, after it became clear that large infusions of public funds were needed to build projects big enough to be effective in the arid West. The eventual result was a dozen dams across Wyoming, but crop agriculture here remains scarce. 
Encyclopedia | In October 1918, when a deadly flu was sweeping the world, a Casper newspaper offered advice as sound now as it was then: Avoid crowds, wash your hands often, “[d]on’t worry, and keep your feet warm.” But there was reason to worry. Schools, churches and businesses closed—and 780 Wyomingites died.
Encyclopedia | In the fall of 1913, the freshman class at the University of Wyoming created a large W on a hill in north Laramie that was easily visible to “passengers on incoming and outgoing trains from both directions,” according to a Wyoming Student report. 
Encyclopedia | In 1876, Dom Pedro II, emperor of Brazil, traveled the United States in advance of the celebration in Philadelphia that year of the nation’s centennial. A Cheyenne Leader reporter managed to get a story—even though the emperor’s train stopped in the Magic City in the middle of the night. 

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