Pick A State


All Things Being Equal,
Wyoming Really Has None

by Rick Vanderpool

Wyoming’s official nickname is “The Equality State,” because of a few monumental firsts for women in America; first state to grant women the right to vote; the nation’s first woman governor – Nellie Tayloe Ross; and the world’s first woman Justice of the Peace – Esther Hobart Morris.

Of course, all that’s part of the state’s great heritage, but when it comes right down to it, those firsts were mostly about politics – something that one doesn’t think all that much about when one thinks about Wyoming. In fact, politics is about the very last thing one thinks about when driving around “The Cowboy State.” That’s another nickname, and one much more in evidence – from the state’s license plates, to signs announcing the dates for the next rodeo in nearly every town with enough real estate to plant a sign on.

I did a bunch of driving through the state, and in my opinion, any equality reference should be history, since Wyoming cowboys (and a growing number of cowgirls) will tell you straight out, they have no equals.

And that goes double for natural beauty. I have never seen any, anywhere to equal Wyoming’s. Of course, that opinion is pretty widely held, given a few more of the state’s firsts; world’s first National Forest – Shoshone National Forest; world’s first National Park – Yellowstone National Park; and the nation’s first national monument – Devil’s Tower National Monument. To quote a lesser-known philosopher friend of mine, “All 50 states press up against the same big ol’ sky, but some just leave a better impression than others.” All things being equal, though my time there was way too brief, I was left with a most memorable impression of Wyoming – and photographs equal to the task of proving it…