With a great sigh of relief – and I’m sure I’m not alone in this – I present the final edition of Fun Facts About the 50 States:
Welcome to Fun Facts About the 50 States, where – week by week – I’ve taken you on a tour around this great nation of ours, providing you with interesting, yet completely useless and probably untrue, information about each of the 50 states.
This week, we’ll be wrapping up the Fun Facts About the 50 States series by fighting off a pack of rabid jackalopes as we tour Wyoming. So let’s get started…
* Wyoming became the 44th state on July 10th, 1890. Or maybe that was Colorado. I don’t know… all those rectangular states look alike to me.
* The state motto of Wyoming is “120 miles to the next rest area”.
* Wyoming gets its name from an Algonquin Indian word, “wa-ho-men”, meaning “little too friendly with the sheep, there, cowboy”.
* The state song of Wyoming is “Go Back To Colorado And Ski On Your Own Mountains, Ya Damn Greenie!”
* Wyoming’s license plates feature black lettering on a scenic landscape background, a silhouette of a man riding a bucking bronco, and the tourism slogan “Our Women Are Like This, Too”.
* In 1869, Wyoming was the first state to grant women the right to vote, which earned it the nickname, “The Whipped State”.
* Rising nearly 1300 feet above the surrounding lands, Wyoming’s Devil’s Tower was designated as America’s first National Monument in 1906. It also beat out Richard Dreyfuss for the Best Actor Oscar in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” in 1977.
* Black Thunder, located near Wright, Wyoming, is America’s largest coal mine. It was also Al Sharpton’s nickname back in his stripper days, although the two are otherwise unconnected.
* The first “Dude Ranch” was the Eaton Ranch near Wolf, Wyoming. The Eatons were the first to use the word “dude” in that capacity, as the term originally referred to a burr that had gotten tangled in a horse’s butt-hair.
* The horse featured on Wyoming’s license plate is named “Old Steamboat”, after an unridable bronco that gained fame in the early 1900’s. Keep that in mind before buying a package of Old Steamboat brand hot dogs.
* With less than 500,000 people, Wyoming has the smallest population of any of the 50 states. Strangely, this was true even before the release of “Brokeback Mountain”.
* Established in 1886, the Laramie County Library located in Cheyenne, Wyoming, is the oldest continually operating county library in the United States. In 2007, they plan to consider broadening their collection to include books not written by Louis L’Amour.
* Just outside of Laramie, Wyoming, the 60-foot tall stone monolith known as Ames Pyramid marks the location of the world’s first rodeo. More specifically, the site where a VERY drunken Robert Ames uttered his final words, “I’ll bet I can sit on top of that angry bull for 8 seconds!”
* Using a firearm to fish is strictly forbidden by Wyoming law, as is chumming with city slicker body parts.
* Wyoming’s Nellie Tayloe Ross was the first woman Governor elected in the US. Her first official act was to outlaw jokes about her that used either “Grand Tetons” or “Jackson Hole”.
* Newcastle, Wyoming, has a law that specifically prohibits couples from having sex inside a store’s walk-in meat freezer. I probably don’t need to mention that it was passed shortly after a Bill Clinton campaign stop.
* The punishment for being drunk in a mine in Wyoming is a year in jail – or “Irish Condo”, as the locals call it.
* The Jackalope – common in Wyoming – is a cross between a pygmy deer and a particularly vicious breed of killer rabbit. While nominally considered a pest, the animal is credited with annually bringing millions of dollars of revenue into the state through the sale of Holy Hand Grenade hunting permits.
* In Wyoming, it’s illegal to wear a hat in a theater that obstructs someone’s view. In the event of an offense, the obstructed person is allowed to shoot the hat off the other person’s head – the only time it’s legal to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater.
* Jackson, Wyoming elected the first all-woman city council in 1920. The first law they passed banned fat guys in Speedos.
* The spacecraft Voyager II has, as part of its artifacts cargo, an Ansel Adams photo of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Note to space aliens – it’s actually just a come-on to get you to attend a time-share seminar.
* There have been numerous sightings of Bigfoot in the woods outside Jackson, Wyoming. However, most scientists theorize that he’s actually just an ordinary man who went feral after being exiled for wearing a Speedo.
* The first person to ski down the 14,000 foot Grand Teton mountain was Bill Briggs, in 1971. And by “ski”, I mean “fall to his screaming, bloody death with skis strapped to his feet, regretting his endeavor the whole way down”.
* Yellowstone National Park has over 10,000 geysers in addition to the popular “Old Faithful”. Also intriguing, though less well-known, are “Middle-aged Erratic” and “Young Psychotic” – affectionately known as “Mel” and “Britney”, respectively.
* In 1991, a elementary school class discovered a the bones of a new species of dinosaur during a field trip at Alcova Lake, Wyoming. Since tradition allows a discoverer to name his find, the giant prehistoric carnivore was dubbed “Fartosaurus”.
* In 1872, Yellowstone was designated as the world’s first National Park. The first non-American National Park was Le Pew Springs, outside Paris, France. It’s pungent, sulfurous waters are said to be the source of France’s cherished National Odor.
* Wyoming law prohibits “fat people” – defined as 100 or more pounds overweight – from using playground or park equipment. This became the inspiration for Michael Moore’s documentary, “Teeter-Tottering For Columbine”.
* While it IS true that Cody, Wyoming was named after William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, it is NOT true that Casper, Wyoming was named after a particularly gregarious-natured spectral apparition.
* The first JC Penney store opened in Kemmerer, Wyoming, in 1902. It was the first department store that featured annual visits from Santa Claus – of sorts. The Wyomingized version of the jolly holiday elf, “Saint Clint”, gave cigars and ponchos to good children, while misbehaving youngsters were hogtied & branded “naughty”.
That wraps up the Wyoming edition of Fun Facts About the 50 States and ends our little tour around the greatest nation on earth. Hope you had as much fun reading it as I did writing it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to grab my Speedo and get out of Jackson.
[The complete e-book version of “Fun Facts About the 50 States” is now available at Amazon.com. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download free Kindle apps for your web browser, smartphone, computer, or tablet from Amazon.com]