Three total solar eclipses have crossed Wyoming since territorial times—in 1878, 1889 and 1918. Two in particular drew prominent astronomers and scientific discoveries. These are especially interesting now, with the August 21, 2017 eclipse likely to draw huge crowds to a very different Wyoming from the one that last saw moon shadows in daytime.
Ever see the bucking horse and rider? In Wyoming you can’t miss it. The logo appears everywhere—license plates, web pages, the university, military insignia and all kinds of signage and merchandise. Ever wonder where it came from? For starters, try France—and Lander.
Patriotic feelings soared in Wyoming during the years of the Great War, bringing generosity toward the people of war-torn Europe and the soldiers who fought. Pacifists, however, and people of German heritage often suffered the scorn of fervent fellow citizens.
In May 1950, Louise Spinner Graf served as foreman of a jury in Green River, Wyo.—practically the first Wyoming jury to include women since 1871. The jury convicted Otto Long of second-degree murder. Afterward, Long’s attorney blamed the outcome on “those damn women.” Women have served successfully on Wyoming juries ever since.
Journalist Merris Barrow arrived in Douglas, Wyo., in 1886 to treat readers to a newspaper “written to be read”—Bill Barlow’s Budget. It needled the powerful and tickled its readers, all while boosting the town. Barrow’s monthly Sagebrush Philosophy circulated nationwide. He died in 1910, just 53 years old.
Throughout his journalism career, Thermopolis newspaperman E. T. Payton’s episodes of mental illness landed him in the state’s mental hospital, where he and other patients suffered sometimes brutal treatment. He died there in 1933, but his whistleblowing helped change laws and improve conditions and care.
Frontier newspaperman Asa Mercer began the controversial Northwestern Live Stock Journal in Cheyenne in the 1880s, backing stockmen’s interests. But when prominent cattlemen-vigilantes invaded Johnson County in 1892, he attacked them stridently in his paper and later in The Banditti of the Plains, the book for which he’s best remembered.