How To Use This Site

How To Use This Site

This blog was updated on a daily basis for about two years, with those daily entries ceasing on December 31, 2013. The blog is still active, however, and we hope that people stopping in, who find something lacking, will add to the daily entries.

The blog still receives new posts as well, but now it receives them on items of Wyoming history. That has always been a feature of the blog, but Wyoming's history is rich and there are many items that are not fully covered here, if covered at all. Over time, we hope to remedy that.

You can obtain an entire month's listings by hitting on the appropriate month below, or an individual day by hitting on that calendar date.

We hope you enjoy this site.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

February 23

1540   Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado began his unsuccessful search for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold in the American Southwest. Antonio de Mendoza, Viceroy of Mexico, sent Francisco Coronado overland to search for the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola in present day New Mexico.  A dramatic mounted exploration, to say the least.

1836  The siege of the Alamo began.  Attribution:  On This Day.

1847     U.S. troops under Gen. Zachary Taylor defeated Mexican general Santa Anna at the Battle of Buena Vista in Mexico.

1905  A creamery in Cheyenne began selling pasteurized milk.

The benefits of pasteurization, and the feature of a local creamery, are things that are almost wholly forgotten today.  Today, most milk is transported quite some distance before it is sold in a local store, but as recently as the 1950s, most significantly sized towns in Wyoming had a creamery, that being a local business that bought raw milk, pasteurized it, and sold it.  Here's an example of such a (former) facility in Casper.

Pasteurization, a process by which a liquid is heated and then rapidly cooled, was a major innovation in food safety, and is commonly used today for most dairy products and some beer.  The ability of a local facility to sell pasteurized milk was no doubt a major boon for local consumers in Cheyenne.  Now, however, there's a movement to sell certain products directly from farms and outside the food safety system.  Raw milk isn't something that a person usually encounters in Wyoming (unless a person lives on a farm or ranch that actually has a dairy cow, which few do) but it's a growing movement nationwide.  Not too surprisingly, there have been some health issues associated with it.

1917   The National Vocational Act (Smith Hughes Act) signed into law.
The National Vocational Act was the first American law to provide a direct Federal role in high school education.  It was signed into law on this day, in 1917.
Student in technical high school, 1916.
The act was aimed at students who were going to work directly on farms but its scope was broader than that and it had the support of Labor, which helped cause it to pass.  It's stated purpose was to support those "who have entered upon or who are preparing to enter upon the work of the farm" and funding was provided for that goal.  It also included mandated the creation of a Board of Vocational Education in each state, which lead to some districts combining their existing board with that purpose and others having a separate board just for that purpose.
 Girls in automobile mechanics class, Central High, Washington D. C., 1927.
The act was a really significant development in terms of the evolution of the relationship between the states and the Federal government. There had been prior acts on the topic of education, including a vocational act that this was a successor to, but this was the first Federal provision to directly impose requirements upon a state in regards to education and the first to provide Federal funding to the states.  In these regards, this was a fairly revolutionary Progressive Era step and its one that lead to later broader steps, perhaps culminating in the creation of the US Department of Education in 1979. We are now so used to the concept of that cabinet level entity existing that its hard to imagine that its a relatively recent arrival in terms of Federal agencies.  It's start can be seen to exist with the passage of the Smith Hughes Act into law in this day, one hundred years ago as of this posting.
Seal of the Department of Education.
Every school district in Wyoming continues to have at least some vocational training.  Natrona County has a completely separate high school campus, recently built, for scientific and vocational training.

1941  Blizzard conditions stalled traffic in the state.  This was, of course, in the pre 4x4 days.  Prior to World War Two 4x4 vehicles were almost unheard of and were limited to industrial vehicles. Almost every vehicle was a rear wheel drive 2x4.

1948  An earthquake in Yellowstone was felt regionally.

1950  A special session of the legislature called to deal with the problem of grasshopper infestation concluded.

1969  Gov. Hathaway signed into law a State severance tax bill. The bill had been extremely controversial, with there being strong arguments by the opposition that passing it would cause Wyoming's extractive industries to greatly reduce their activity. The arguments failed to stop the bill, and the severance tax did not greatly impact the extractive industries.  Today, Wyoming's is nearly entirely funded by severance taxes.

1985  The Bison adopted as the state mammal.

1990  First Day of Issue Ceremony  for the stamp based on Conrad Schwiering's painting High Mountain Meadows held in Cheyenne.


  1. This state is indebted to Stan Hathaway. I think he was the one who took office and found that the state had $82 in the general fund. Not thousands, not hundreds but $82!!! (I think it was in Sam Western's book). Without him pushing through the severance tax bill, this state would be pushing up daisies - dead not just broke!

  2. The state is indeed indebted to Gov. Hathaway. Enacting a severance tax was hugely controversial at the time, although that debated is hardly even remembered now. It was seriously contended by opponents of the severance tax that enacting it would result in the mineral industry largely vacating the state, even though the tax was only 1.5%. This proved to be untrue of course, and Hathaway followed upon this by being Governor at the time the Permanent Mineral Trust Fund was created, which has been a lifesaver for the state's finances.

    I saw Hathaway argue a Supreme Court case in 1990, and he had a very unusual, straight forward style. It worked well for him. I've always felt that he wasn't well treated by Congress as he was so raked over the coals, it seemed, at the time he was nominated for Secretary of the Interior, but he kept on keeping on in any event.