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.
Geology & Natural History
Browse Articles about Geology & Natural History
|Alcova Dam and Reservoir||Annette Hein|
|Anchor Dam, History of||Annette Hein|
|Big Muddy Oil Field||Rebecca Hein|
|Bighorn Basin, Natural History of the||Emilene Ostlind|
|Boysen Dam, History of||Annette Hein|
|Coal, Wyoming business of||Chamois L. Andersen|
|Colby Mammoth Site||WyomingHeritage.org|
|Como Bluff||Stephanie Lowe|
Geology & Natural History
No logging, no grazing—even no trespassing? The Yellowstone Timber Land Reserve, the first land to be set aside in what evolved into today’s National Forest system, had a distinctly different character from its successors. Here’s why.
Iced drinks on the Oregon Trail? Early emigrants refreshed at the fabled Ice Springs near the Sweetwater River—now known as Ice Slough. But after a decade of trailside chopping and trampling, the spot became less attractive. Later travelers felt deceived by the stories they had heard.
Former sheepherder, ranch foreman and schoolteacher Henry Jensen was past president of Wyoming’s historical and archeological societies. One day in the early 1990s he and Casper science teachers Dana Van Burgh and Terry Logue drove southwest from Casper to Devil’s Gate, noting all kinds of geology, archeology and history along the way.
Prospectors first struck oil in the Salt Creek Oil Field in northern Natrona County, Wyo. late in the 1880s. The first gusher came in in 1908. The subsequent boom lasted until the late 1920s, peaking in 1923, when the field produced more than 35 million barrels of oil. Tom Wall, who went to work in the field in 1917, stayed for decades and in the 1970s wrote out his memories of life in the oil patch through boom and bust. After 125 years and thanks to new technologies, the Salt Creek Field continues to produce today.
Wyoming's fossils have been important to science since the 1870s and continue to be useful today. Remains of Triceratops, Diplodocus, Tyrannosaurus and others have helped answer—and raise—many questions about the ancient history of the planet and have captured popular imagination with their size or fierce appearance. The scientific value of these fossils and the public interest in them has brought collectors who excavate fossils and ship them to museums all over the country for further study and display. Only a few major finds from Wyoming have remained in the state.
Natural gas has been flowing from the Jonah Field and Pinedale Anticline in western Wyoming since the early 1990s, bringing with it substantial profits, tax revenues, prosperity, social change, air pollution, and declines in local mule-deer populations. The story goes to the heart of Wyoming’s oil and gas culture, and raises important questions about energy production’s long-term costs and benefits.
The earliest people appear to have come to Wyoming from Asia about 11,000 years ago and archaeologists now think there’s a good chance the people were direct ancestors of Shoshone people who live in Wyoming now. In recent years, the mostly white archaeologists have realized it makes sense to ask Shoshone people for help understanding the pictures and carvings their ancestors left on the rocks.