Early Wyoming was seen as a hardscrabble place. But after 1900, dude ranches showed off Wyoming’s mountain scenery, fishing, hunting and hospitality, and thanks to the elite guests’ taste-making powers, Wyoming and the West became associated less with cold wind and distance and more with romantic glories.
Parks, Forests & Public Lands
Browse Articles about Parks, Forest & Public Land
|Jackson Hole Guide||Kerry Drake|
|Jackson Hole News||Kerry Drake|
|Jackson Hole News & Guide||Kerry Drake|
|Laramie Peak, Oregon Trail landmark||WyoHistory.org|
|Mineral Leasing Act 1920||Samuel Western|
|Mitchell, Finis, Wind River Mountains hiker and conservationist||Rebecca Hein|
|Moore, Lucy Morrison||John Clayton|
|Morris, Alice||Robert and Elizabeth Rosenberg|
|Murie Family, the: Wilderness Leaders in Wyoming||Emilene Ostlind|
|Murie, Adolph||Emilene Ostlind|
Parks, Forests & Public Lands
The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 established the modern system by which oil and coal companies may lease federal land. This system has proven enormously beneficial to Wyoming’s state coffers since it was first enacted nearly 100 years ago. How this all came about is a story of early oil producers looking for a way around a presidential order and a highly contentious Supreme Court case, all with lucrative results for the state of Wyoming—and a stabilizing result for the industry.
From their modest upbringings, Mardy and Olaus Murie became diligent, adventurous and charismatic leaders of the American conservation movement. With their siblings, Louise and Adolph Murie, they shaped conservation biology and ecology and are credited with some of our country’s most historic efforts to protect wild lands. The two couples split their time between remote Alaska and a ranch at the feet of the Tetons, where the Murie Center carries on their efforts today.
Noted western historian Will Bagley, drawing on the work of Pulitzer-Prize-winning author and conservationist Wallace Stegner, offers a passionate plea for the preservation of South Pass, a crucial site for the hundreds of thousands of people who traveled the Oregon, California and Mormon trails.
Yellowstone, the world’s first national park, covers 3,500 square miles in Wyoming’s northwest corner and extends a short distance into Idaho and Montana. Established in 1872, the park continues to enthrall visitors to its striking scenery, topography, plentiful wildlife and thrilling thermal features.
In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt included Wyoming in his 25-state tour of the western United States. He spent nearly three weeks in Yellowstone National Park, gave a speech in Newcastle, and on the return leg from California, left the train long enough for a well-publicized horseback ride from Laramie to Cheyenne, and two extra days politicking and socializing in Wyoming’s capital.
Guernsey Dam on the North Platte River lies between historic Fort Laramie and Laramie peak and just a few miles from some deep, sandstone ruts on the historic Oregon Trail. The dam was completed in 1927, for hydropower and flood control. In 1934, crews from the Civilian Conservation Corps located camps near the reservoir. With design help from the National Park Service, they built the handsome stone-and-timber shelters and buildings at Guernsey State Park, in what became a showplace of state park design.
Alcova Dam, a Bureau of Reclamation project, was completed in 1937. The reservoir opened in 1938 and a power plant was completed in 1955. The $20 million dam project didn’t achieve the high expectations of immense wealth that were forecast at the time of its inception, but continues to provide irrigation water for farmers and ranchers and generates hydropower for the area. Alcova Reservoir offers fishing, boating, camping and swimming opportunities for visitors.
Largely forgotten today is the stiff local resistance that arose in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to the creation and later the expansion of a national park there. The story covers 31 years of controversy, and includes a Rockefeller, a movie actor and a group of armed ranchers trailing cattle illegally across a national monument, and some of the most beautiful scenery in North America.