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Politics & Government

The Wagon Wheel Project

A late-1960s Atomic Energy Commission plan to extract Wyoming natural gas with five underground nuclear explosions won strong initial support from the oil and gas industry and the federal government. Finally, however, the idea stalled, thanks to the emergence of more information on possible dangers, to Washington politics, and especially to intense local opposition in Sublette County, Wyo., where the devices were slated to be detonated.

President Theodore Roosevelt's 1903 Visit to Wyoming

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.

Flaming Gorge Dam and Reservoir

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.

History of Guernsey Dam

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.

History of Glendo Dam

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.

A Brief History of Heart Mountain Relocation Center

From 1942 through most of 1945, about 10,000 Japanese-Americans from the West Coast of United States lived behind barbed wire in tarpaper barracks at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center between Cody and Powell, Wyo. in Park County—one of ten such camps around the nation during World War II. The center was briefly Wyoming’s third-largest town. When hundreds of young men in the camp were drafted into the U.S. military, 63 resisted, feeling they had been denied their constitutional rights. They and seven more leaders of the group were sentenced to federal prison. In the 1980s, Congress passed a law granting an apology and $20,000 to every survivor of the camps.

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Encyclopedia | The brilliant lawyer Willis Van Devanter of Cheyenne made a name for himself in the 1890s as a loyal Republican and protector of the interests of the powerful. He was rewarded with a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court in 1910, where he served as a staunch conservative for 27 years.
Encyclopedia | In March 1965, clergyman James Reeb, a graduate of Natrona County High School and Casper College, marched in Selma, Ala., with the Rev. Martin Luther King to protect black voting rights. Reeb was murdered soon afterward. Publicity surrounding his death helped move Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act later that year.
Oral Histories | LeRoy Strausner served as the fourth president of Casper College from 1991-2004. In September 2013, Dana Van Burgh interviewed him at the facility’s Western History Center about his life and his long career at the college.
Encyclopedia | The voluble, gregarious Teno Roncalio of Rock Springs, Wyo., a Democrat, became a powerful and effective figure in the state’s political landscape, serving five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives during the 1960s and 1970s.
Oral Histories | The popular Republican Thyra Thomson served as Wyoming’s secretary of state from 1963 to 1987, when she retired. While in office, Thomson witnessed the continuing presence of gender discrimination in the Equality State, and became a fierce advocate for equal rights. She died in Cheyenne June 11, 2013. She was 96.
Encyclopedia | Rural electrification brought welcome changes to farms and ranches throughout Wyoming in the 1930s and 1940s, despite numerous early challenges—including opposition from existing utilities— that threatened to thwart the effort.
Oral Histories | Frank "Pinky" Ellis of Casper, Wyo., born in 1929, was interviewed April 21, 2011 by Casper College student Emily Pearson at the Casper College Western History Center. In this interview, Mr. Ellis discusses growing up in Casper, his father’s journey from Ireland to Casper, life during the Depression, his father’s sheep operation, his own positions on the Casper City Council and Natrona County Public Library Board, life at Casper College and the University of Wyoming in the late 1940s, early childhood memories, family life and life’s lessons.
Oral Histories | Audio and transcript of interview with former Governor Ed Herschler conducted by John Hinckley in 1977.

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