The West inspired big dreams and often broke them. This month, we feature articles about people whose long-term plans played out differently than they had hoped—but who still made a big difference in the world. The policy proposals of a brilliant scientist, bureaucrat and social thinker could have brought much more rational development to the West’s land and water resource—but were blocked by a hostile Congress. Wyoming’s two tribes, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho, gave up yet more land at the turn of the last century—and by doing so, survived. And a skilled, far-seeing cowboy photographer won national fame for his images—yet failed at ranching and wound up taking pictures of swimsuit models on Florida beaches.
Powell launches from Wyoming Territory
In 1869 and 1871 John Wesley Powell led two expeditions from Wyoming Territory down the Green and Colorado rivers. These and other explorations brought him to a profound understanding of how the West’s aridity limits its economic prospects. He directed the U.S. Geological Survey from 1881-1894, and his ideas still affect land and water policy today.
Read more in writer Rebecca Hein’s article “John Wesley Powell: Explorer, Thinker, Scientist and Bureaucrat.”
Tribes sell more land in 1905
In 1905, Congress ratified an agreement with the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho by which the tribes ceded 1.5 million acres of reservation land north of the Big Wind River. Tribal leaders questioned the final terms, however, and payments were slow in coming and fell far short of promised levels. Learn much more in the WyoHistory.org article “The Tribes Sell Off More Land: The 1905 Agreement.”
Belden shows the real and imagined West
Cowboy photographer Charles Belden co-owned the massive Pitchfork cattle and dude ranch near Meeteetse from 1922 to 1940. Even more than ranching, however, he cared about taking pictures. His images show working cowboys, sheepherders, dudes, cattle and sheep—and a spirit of western romance and adventure that the public was hungry for. Read more in WyoHistory.org Assistant Editor Lori Van Pelt’s article, “Photographer on the Pitchfork: Charles Belden’s Version of the West.”
Visit our Wyoming History Day page
The theme for the 2018-2019 competition is “Triumph and Tragedy in History.” The Wyoming History Day contest will be held April 14-15, 2019, and the National History Day competition is slated for June 9-13, 2019.
Teachers, students and others interested in the Wyoming History Day contest, which will be held in Laramie April 14-15, 2019, can find more information--including contest dates and links and Wyoming History Sample Topics--by clicking on the “History Day” tab on the orange bar on the WyoHistory.org home page or by visiting https://www.wyohistory.org/wyoming-history-day.
Wild Migrations: Atlas of Wyoming’s Ungulates. Matthew J. Kauffman, senior editor; James E. Meacham, cartographic editor; Hall Sawyer, associate editor; Alethea Y. Steingisser, production manager; William J. Rudd, contributing editor; Emilene Ostlind, text editor. 183 pages, 2018. Oregon State University Press, 2018; and University of Wyoming and University of Oregon, 2018. Hardcover $50.00. In her foreword, Annie Proulx calls this “the book Wyoming has been waiting for all its life.” If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a good map, we figure, must be worth at least 100 pictures—and this book is packed with maps. Mostly, the maps show detailed migration routes across Wyoming followed by pronghorn antelope, mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, bison, moose, white-tailed deer and mountain goats. There are also spectacular wildlife photographs by National Geographic Photography Fellow and Wyoming Migration Initiative photographer Joe Riis, and many others.
Senior Editor Matt Kauffman, professor of zoology and physiology at the University of Wyoming, notes that the idea for the book came to him in 2004 while he was doing fieldwork in Yellowstone on elk and the effects of their browsing habits on aspen stands. This led to his study of their migration patterns—how, when and where they move. Combined with his belief that better maps would help scientists and the public better understand animals’ migration corridors, he set about creating an atlas and sought the help of other experts, launching the project in 2012. As a result, the book contains segments that focus on the history and science of—and threats to—the corridors. Books are available directly from the publisher at http://osupress.oregonstate.edu/book/wild-migrations, at bookstores or through other online sources.