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This Day in History: Celebrating Wyoming

This is a slightly abbreviated version of a post by Kristi Finefield, a reference librarian in the Prints and Photographs Division, first published on “Picture This,” the division’s blog. Check out Finefield’s original post for even more fantastic photographs of Wyoming by Carol M. Highsmith.

Today, we turn our eyes to the wide open spaces of Wyoming for two reasons. On July 10, 1890, Wyoming became the 44th state in the United States of America. The second reason is the addition of thousands of modern, color digital photos of Wyoming to the ever-expanding Carol M. Highsmith Archive.

Remains of the Carissa Gold Mine in South Pass City, a mining boomtown in the 1860s.

Over the last couple of years, Highsmith’s effort to document America with her camera and her own detailed captions took her across the state that brought us our first national park (Yellowstone), first national monument (Devils Tower) and first national forest (Shoshone). While still a territory, Wyoming was also first in granting women the right to vote in 1869, gaining a nickname as the Equality State. Another state nickname is the Cowboy State, and you’ll see plenty of those in Highsmith’s photos!

Wild and domesticated horses at Ladder Livestock Ranch, a cattle and sheep ranch on the Wyoming-Colorado border.

Let these vibrant photos take you on a trip through Wyoming, a state where the old West can still be found in small towns and flatlands, in cities and up in snowy mountains. Witness the celebrations and traditions of American Indians, and watch cowboys working land and livestock as well as showing their skills in the rodeo. Drive down straight-as-an-arrow two-lane roads through grasslands, farms and ranches, all under wide blue skies. Look to distant mountain peaks and the storms rolling in from miles away. Marvel at natural wonders, rock formations and, of course, the wonderland that is Yellowstone National Park. Welcome to Wyoming! Scroll down for more fantastic Highsmith images.

Learn More:

  • Take your own trip across Wyoming through Carol M. Highsmith’s photos, most of which were taken in 2015 and 2016.
  • The Gates Frontiers Fund Wyoming Collection and Colorado Collection are the two most recent additions to the Carol M. Highsmith Archive. Highsmith’s travels to Wyoming’s neighbor to the south over the last few years produced thousands of new photos of Colorado which are also now available.
  • Explore the entire Carol M. Highsmith Archive in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.
  • Wyoming and Yellowstone have been a popular subject for photographs for a long time. Explore Yellowstone National Park in photos dating from as far back as the 1870s in the collections of the Prints and Photographs Division, and enjoy flipping through the pages of an 1883 photographic album, Journey through the Yellowstone National Park and Northwestern Wyoming, 1883. View a description of the album here.

Lincoln Highway in Sweetwater County.

A parade during Cheyenne Frontier Days, celebrated annually in the state capital since 1897.

Ayres Natural Bridge in Converse County.

Rodeo during Cheyenne Frontier Days.

The Wind River.

Ominous clouds above Pine Bluff in Laramie County.

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