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Politics & Government

John B. Kendrick: Cowboy, Cattle King, Governor and U.S. Senator

John B. Kendrick rose from poverty to great wealth and later to the pinnacle of political power. He arrived in Wyoming Territory in 1879 with a Texas trail herd, and by the early years of the 20th century was running his own ranches and a local bank. A Democrat, he was elected governor in 1914, and later served three terms in the U.S. Senate. There he worked tirelessly on irrigation, land use, and protection of natural resources. With humor, charm, broad intelligence and a willingness to work with political opponents, he became a model for long-term success as a Democrat in a Republican state.

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Encyclopedia | 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.
Encyclopedia | Elwood Mead was only 30 in 1888 when Territorial Gov. Thomas Moonlight hired him to bring order to Wyoming’s water law. As territorial engineer Mead did just that, and his ideas were written into the state constitution adopted in 1890. Mead spent only 11 years in Wyoming, but all his life carried with him what he learned in the state.
Encyclopedia | In 1869, explorer John Wesley Powell named the red-walled canyon on the Green River in Wyoming Territory “Flaming Gorge.” The Flaming Gorge Dam, completed in 1964, helps regulate water flows and its power plant generates electricity. The dam is located in Utah, but the reservoir stretches north into Wyoming near the town of Green River. In 1968, the U.S. Congress created the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, which is located in the states of Utah and Wyoming and draws visitors from around the world.
Encyclopedia | Educator Estelle Reel fought hard to obtain the Republican nomination for Wyoming superintendent of public instruction in 1894, after which she became the first woman in Wyoming elected to a statewide office. In 1898, President McKinley named her national superintendent of Indian schools.
Encyclopedia | Before Glendo Dam could be built on the North Platte River in Platte County, Wyoming, complicated water-rights disputes had to be settled among Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado and the settlement approved by the U.S. Supreme Court. The process took more than a decade, and shows the difficulties of allocating water in the arid West. The earthfill dam, nearly 2,100 feet long and 190 feet high, was completed in the fall of 1957. It stores water for irrigation and recreation, controls floods, reduces sedimentation in the Guernsey reservoir downstream and produces hydropower.
Encyclopedia | Anchor Dam was built in the 1950s on upper Owl Creek in Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin. The bedrock under the reservoir site is porous, and the reservoir has never held much water. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation more than doubled its initial costs with subsequent mitigation efforts, which proved unsuccessful. The dam stands today high above a small pool of water.
Encyclopedia | 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.
Encyclopedia | Evanston lawyer Clarence Clark became Wyoming’s first congressional representative in 1890. In 1895, the legislature elected him to the U.S. Senate. Sen. F. E. Warren, Rep. Frank Mondell and Clark made an all-Republican congressional triumvirate for more than two decades until Clark lost to John B. Kendrick in 1916.

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