15 Things You Might Not Know About Wyoming

iStock / iStock

1. In 1872, Yellowstone, the majority of which lies in Wyoming, was designated as the first National Park in the nation.

2. Another first for the state is Devil’s Tower, the monolithic rock protrusion in the Black Hills mountain chain, which was declared the first-ever United States National Monument on September 24, 1906, by President Theodore Roosevelt.

3. Wyoming was the first state to give women the right to vote. Suffrage was approved on September 30, 1889, and when Wyoming was officially admitted to the Union the following year, it became the first state where women could vote. The vastly male-dominated frontier state hoped to attract more women by extending them basic democratic equality.

4. Continuing the trend: Wyoming had the first female governor. After her husband died just a year into his governorship, Nellie Tayloe Ross ran in a special election and won his spot easily. She was sworn in as the first woman to serve as governor in January 1925. Although she was defeated in her campaign for reelection, Ross went on to be the first female director of the United States Mint.

5. Wyoming is the least populous state in the country; an estimated 582,658 people lived there in 2013.

6. Wyoming is home to the pronghorn, which is the second fastest land animal in the world (after cheetahs) and the fastest in the Western Hemisphere. They use their 60 mph speeds to migrate 150 miles each way between Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin and Grand Teton National Park.

7. Wyoming, specifically Yellowstone Park, is also home to the nation’s largest hot spring, and the third largest in the world. Grand Prismatic Spring is 250 by 300 feet and derives its name from its rainbow of rich colors, which is created by bacteria.

8. In the 1800s, the Oregon Trail stretched across what is now Wyoming (and its neighboring states). At one particular point along the way, near modern day Guernsey, Wyoming, emigrants carved their names into the cliff so friends and family traveling behind them would know they had survived the perilous trail (at least until that point). The sandstone rock face became known as Register Cliff and is now recognized as a historic landmark.

9. Before it was sold to two Vietnamese businessmen in 2013, Buford, Wyoming, was the smallest town in American. Don Sammons had been its only resident—and owner of the town—since his son left in 2008, but in 2013 year he decided to move closer to his son and put the town up for auction.

10. Buford—now officially called “PhinDeli”—may be lacking in people, but it is home to one unique roadside attraction. First discovered in the 1860s by railroad workers who were laying track for the Union Pacific, the "tree in the rock" is, well, exactly that: a skinny pine tree that appears to grow directly out of a large rock.

11. In 1994, NASA learned that Jupiter was in some danger of being hit by errant pieces of a comet. The fine folks of Green River, Wyoming, were immediately concerned for the welfare of any Jupiterians who needed to escape. So the city officially renamed their small, 5,000-foot landing strip the "Greater Green River Intergalactic Spaceport” as a way of welcoming these extraterrestrial immigrants.

12. The jackalope has twice been nominated for recognition as the Official Mythical Creature of Wyoming. The story of the jackalope has been traced to a pair of hunters in Douglas, Wyoming, who used taxidermy to graft deer antlers onto a jackrabbit carcass.

13. The horse on the Wyoming license plate is a legendary rodeo bronco named Old Steamboat. The man riding him is thought to be Clayton Danks, who was actually a Nebraska native.

14. The Red Desert in south central Wyoming is home to two unique geological features: Killpecker Sand Dunes, the largest living dune system in the United States, and the Great Divide Basin, which is an endhoric basin, meaning water from precipitation collected there doesn’t drain into any ocean, directly or indirectly.

15. Wyoming is the leading producer of coal in the United States, accounting for 40 percent of the nation’s total coal production in 2010. The eight largest U.S. coal mines are all in Wyoming's Powder River Basin.