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Politics & Government

Making a Home in Empire, Wyo.

Two highly educated families of African-American farmers founded Empire, Wyo., near the Nebraska line northeast of Torrington in 1908. At one time it boasted school, church and post office. But drought, low crop prices and, evidence shows, the racial prejudices of their neighbors drove the people away; all were gone by 1930.

The Deadly Blackwater Fire

A sudden, hot wind one August afternoon in 1937 blew a small fire into an inferno that rushed for ridgetops above Blackwater Creek, in the Shoshone National Forest west of Cody, Wyo. Fifteen firefighters died; 38 more were burned in the fourth deadliest wildfire in the nation’s history.

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Encyclopedia | It may seem surprising that a solitary New York socialite would make Yellowstone safer. But Alice Morris’s love of Yellowstone National Park led to her horseback explorations in 1917, when she chronicled the park’s wonders and detailed changes to improve and standardize trail systems that remain in place today.
Encyclopedia | 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.
Oral Histories | In May 1950, Louise Spinner Graf served as foreman on the first Wyoming jury, with one minor exception, to include women since 1871. Born in Green River, Wyo., she attended university and worked in local banks. After marrying George Graf in 1930, she quit working to raise their daughter, and remained active in the community the rest of her life.
Encyclopedia | 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.
Encyclopedia | Sixteen years after Congress passed the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, Wyoming became the 49th state to view public television. Surviving on shoestring budgets of federal, state and private funds, donated equipment and volunteer pledge drives, Wyoming PBS managed to expand across the state—and finally to thrive.
Encyclopedia | 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.
Encyclopedia | Two highly educated families of African-American farmers founded Empire, Wyo., near the Nebraska line northeast of Torrington in 1908. At one time it boasted school, church and post office. But drought, low crop prices and, evidence shows, the racial prejudices of their neighbors drove the people away; all were gone by 1930.
Encyclopedia | The onset of Prohibition in 1919 not only didn’t stop drinking in Wyoming, it added new layers of lawlessness—bribery, corruption, murder. Enforcement officials had to battle crime in their own ranks, too. One high-profile federal case charged corruption at all levels in Casper, but the jury refused to convict.

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