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  SIX THINGS YOU DON'T KNOW ABOUT: WYOMING.  
   
   
  Wyoming is 498,073 people living in a 97,818 square-mile area bounded entirely by straight lines. That's about five people to every straight-ass square-mile, making Wyoming the least populous state in the Union. With so few people and a statewide obsession with rodeo (which really doesn't help our image one bit), it's hard to believe that there's much to know about Wyoming. But there are at least six things. So shine up the bucking bronco insignia that adorns our license plates, because you'll never think of the Equality State the same way again.
 
 

 

# 1. We're a Hotbed of Feminism.

Recognize the name Nellie Tayloe Ross? Recall that Wyoming was the first state to grant women the right to vote and the first state to elect a female governor?

That's just a start. Wyoming: We love the ladies.

After the women of Wyoming were given the right to vote in December 1869, they continued to make history. In February 1870, Esther Hobart Morris became the first woman justice of the peace in the United States. A few weeks later, the first all-woman jury in the U.S. was selected. That same year, Mary Atkinson became the first woman bailiff in the world. And in 1894, Estelle Reel became the first woman elected to statewide office in the U.S. (as Superintendent of Public Instruction). Score. From 1920-21, the women of Jackson Hole literally ruled. The town became the first in the U.S. to be governed solely by women, one of whom won her husband's city council seat. It's a perfect scenario for a Loretta Lynn song. (Hint, hint, Loretta.)

 

#2. We Dig, You Dig?

Ask any five-year-old in Gillette, Wyoming where a coal mine is and they'll point every direction but west. Many of them could also list the heavy-metalish names of the mines where their parents work: Black Thunder, Caballo, Cordero, North Rochelle, Wyodak. You'd work at a mine too, if your annual salary there was nearly three times more than the state average. Wyoming is the leading coal producer in the U.S. Last year we shoveled out 363.4 million tons, most of which came from the Powder River Basin in the northeastern corner of the state. The North Rochelle mine produced enough coal last year to fill 6,800 railcars -- enough to span the miles between Los Angeles and Boston and back again. And in 2003, after 25 years in the black-lung biz, Black Thunder became the first coal mine ever to ship 750 million tons. As if that weren't enough, Wyoming supplies 34 percent of the nation's coal. Beat that, Appalachia.

 

#3. Few People + Open Space = Crazies!

The Heaven's Gate cult kicked it in Wyoming for a while, but now the state houses the likes of the racist World Church of the Creator.

Matt Hale (who prefers to be called by his pornstar name, Pontifex Maximus) moved the WCOC to Riverton, Wyoming in 2002. One of the fastest-growing hate groups of the 1990s, WCOC (now called The Creativity Movement) began in Peoria, Illinois, and believes that the white race is nature's highest creation. Pontifex took over the church after founder Ben Klassen killed himself. Pontifex lost his Illinois law license and brought the Movement up to Wyoming. While the 10,000 residents of Riverton could have showed The Creativity Movement the exit, some chose to draw up tolerance pledges and sponsor classes on diversity. The Riverton Daily Ranger published articles on The Creativity Movement's history and came out against the church in subsequent editorials. At present, Pontifex Maximus is awaiting sentencing for conspiring to kill a federal judge. His sidekick, Hastus Primus (aka Spearhead, aka Thomas Kroenke), is still kicking it Creativity in Riverton.

 

#4. Our Rabbits Have Antlers.

A drunk trapper named LeRoy Ball freaked in 1829 near Douglas, Wyoming after spotting the world's first jackalope. You know -- a large, semi-violent rabbit sporting antelope antlers.

Jackalope lore holds that some reach 150 pounds; they screw during lightning storms; and a herd of them once demolished an entire settlement near Douglas. Back in the 1900s, popular hunting and fishing mags profiled the elusive jackalope. But get this - they're not real! The town of Douglas (declared by former Governor Ed Herschler to be the jackalope capital of the world) could care less and enjoys Jackalope Days every June. Attendees can obtain jackalope hunting licenses from the Chamber of Commerce and go gonzo with the crosshairs so long as they remember to refrain from hunting jackalope from midnight to 2 a.m. on June 31. Or take part in "typical" festival activities, like, you know, mini-monster truck obstacle courses for the kids and greased pig money runs for the adults. Or check out the 9-foot-tall jackalope statue and pay homage to every area taxidermist's wet dream.

 

#5. Indiana Jones Lives Here.

Cue Indy's theme music as a helicopter swoops in to rescue a stranded climber. It's a dude! In a chopper! It's … Harrison Ford! He picked up Sarah George in August 2000, and she had this to say: "I can't believe I barfed in Harrison Ford's helicopter."

Ford built his own ranch (himself!) on land in Jackson Hole. He's so generous, he donated more than half that land to the Jackson Hole Land Trust as a conservation easement. Isn't Han Solo awesome? When asked once if he'd changed Jackson Hole by moving there, Ford responded, "I might have driven up the real estate prices a little." So sheepish are you, Harrison Ford. Even the townies love you. Heck, my mom loves you. Everyone's mom loves you. I love you. Harrison Ford, you can stay in Wyoming as long as you like, you fine piece of (aging) action hero ass.

 

#6. We Keep the Rich Rich.

The hoity-toity are all about Wyoming. Forbes loves the place, as does Bloomberg Wealth Manager. For seven consecutive years, the publication has named Wyoming the most "wealth-friendly" state in the Union. Most of the wealth is located near Jackson Hole -- our coked-up, celebrity-infested answer to Aspen, Colorado. (No offense, Harrison. We know. You're the good one.)

One of the priciest gated communities in America, Indian Springs, sits outside Jackson Hole. Houses start at $4.95 million and some go for up to $12.99 million. If you're looking to get all Hampton-y, you could buy the Polo Ranch in Big Horn, Wyoming for about $30 million. It's one of the most expensive equestrian properties in the U.S. and is also believed to be the oldest. Cheerio, old chap. Cheerio. So why all this bling? The state doesn't levy personal or corporate income tax, or tax intangible assets like bank accounts, stocks or bonds. The tax code (or lack thereof) attracts tightwads and big spenders alike. A little can go a long way when you're not having the crap taxed out of you. Right Harrison?

 

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Shannon Tharp is considering a career in jackalope wrassling following her college graduation.