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THE TERRITORY OF WYOMING.
These explorers encountered many difficulties and endured many hardships. The Indians were not always friendly; there were many depredations and food was often scarce. Advanced civilization never is able to pay its debt to the explorer, the frontiersman and the pioneer, all of whom have made present conditions possible. For the protection of these pathfinders and earlier settlers the government established forts and military posts. The earliest of these is Fort Laramie on the North Platte river not far from the Nebraska line. This post was named after Jacques La Ramie, a French Canadian trapper, as was Laramie Peak, Laramie county, Laramie, Laramie river and Laramie Plains. His record dates as far back as 1820. At this place we have the first settlement in the State. This fort was a trading post and the fur business of the State for years centered around this locality. The fort was first built in 1834 and passed afterwards into the hands of the American Fur Company who rebuilt it in 1836 of adobes or sun-dried bricks. The Government in 1849 purchased the fortress as one of a series of forts along the Overland Trail, which were located to protect the settlers but more particularly to guard the lives of the immigrants seeking western homes. For this same reason Fort Fetterman was established near Douglas and Fort Casper. By this overland route through Wyoming thousands of immigrants went to Oregon, the “Forty-niners” to the gold fields of California and the Mormons to Utah. The Mormons took the Overland Trail through South Pass and from there went south into Sweetwater county, reached Fort Bridger in Uinta county and thence west into their land of promise. This Overland Trail was changed in 1812 entering Wyoming on the south near Virginia Dale, went across the Laramie Plains west to
a point south of Rawlins, Rock Springs, Granger, Fort Bridger, Evanston (called Bear River Station) out of the State. The trail made by the stages can yet be traced when traveling over our prairies.
Freighting over this great Overland highway became quite extensive in 1856 through the protective measures which the Government had established in the military posts. This was followed by the Pony Express and a regularly established stage route. It took twenty days to make the journey from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Salt Lake City, Utah. These posts were used as stopping stations when changes of horses were made and necessary repairs. A telegraph line from Omaha to California going through Wyoming over the Overland Trail was completed in 1861 and we were thus put into close touch with the outside world. The years 1865, '66, '67 were filled with bloody Indian wars and thrilling massacres.
The Union Pacific Railroad Company commenced to cross the State in 1867 and rapidly pushed west over the southern area. By an act of Congress for twenty miles on each side of the railroad the odd numbered sections became the property of the Union Pacific. There are no navigable rivers in Wyoming giving us natural transportation facilities and in this matter we are entirely dependent upon railroads. With the coming of this sign of civilization we needed a fixed form of government and we needed our public lands surveyed and we needed different tribunals than the Vigilance Committees. The people asked Congress in 1868 to admit Wyoming as a Territory. It was proposed to call our State the Territory of Lincoln and also the Territory of Cheyenne. July 25, 1868, President Johnson signed his name to a bill which made this the Territory of Wyoming. This name was suggested by the people of Wyoming, having been previously advocated by Fremont. The word Wyoming, which means the “large plains," comes from the Delaware Indian name Maughwauwama.
The people living in our State thought a territorial government would better the lawless condition then in existence. They agitated the question among themselves and sent Dr. Herman Latham to Washington to represent them in the matter. He presented a petition to Congress asking for a territorial organization to be called Wyoming, setting forth the facts and reasons which made this action both advisable and necessary.
Many supporters were found for the measure and a bill was introduced in Congress February 13, 1868, to create a new territory. This bill was not passed until July 25, 1868.
The Territory of Wyoming was formed and we thus took our first step towards Statehood.
Territorial officers were not given us until April 7, 1869. Nominations for appointment were made by President Johnson but the Senate did not confirm them. Soon after Grant's inauguration, however, the new appointments were made and promptly confirmed by the Senate.
The Territory was organized May 19, 1869, and the first election was held September 2, 1869, when our first legislature was elected and our delegate to Congress. The authority to send a delegate to represent Wyoming was the opening wedge for full representation in the Senate and House of Representatives twenty-one years after when in 1890 we became a State.
The boundary lines for the territory were the same as those adapted when we became a state. The area embraced within our borders is as great as New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey combined. The area is one and one-half times as large as all of New England.
The development of the Territory was necessarily slow. The Union Pacific in the early territorial days did not assist in the development of the country along its line as had been expected. Its chief purpose was to carry traffic to the