Went Full Circle
While visiting with a rancher from south central Wyoming this past week, he stated how much his area and community have changed in the past several years, and we agreed, so has a lot of Wyoming.
By chance, he and I started talking about new people buying ranches in the area. I mentioned that we are in America, and it is everyone’s right to buy land. If one thinks about it, it’s not the first time people have come to Wyoming to purchase lands, and some of Wyoming’s best citizens have turned out to be those arrivals. The truth be told, every one of our families, at one time, were new arrivals to the state.
During the late 1880s there were a number of English and Scottish people, many with the title “Sir,” before their names, who came over to America and bought land. While many didn’t move here permanently, they established some good, large ranches. Most notable of these immigrants was the Swan Land and Cattle Company at Chugwater. This happened all over Wyoming, in fact this helped my family ranch at that time to grow in acres. These ranch developers really helped to settle Wyoming. They had the capital to invest, and so the settlement of Wyoming was accelerated. When the terrible winter storms of the late 1880s killed large numbers of cattle, all of the sudden these investments didn’t turn out to be so profitable, but it was an opportunity for those living on the ranch or in the area to buy parts or all of these ranches at a fair price. So maybe we have come full circle, only time will tell.
Whatever happens next will be a change for Wyoming, as it always has in the past. In the early years of statehood, sheep were frowned on in many areas. Once sheep got a toehold in the state, many sheep ranchers got their start as herders and Wyoming was soon known as a major sheep and wool producer in the nation, and Wyoming benefited again.
As is happening today in the state, the new people in the 1880s really invested in the communities and provided many jobs and opportunities that have helped the state to grow in a positive way. Call it outside money or whatever, Wyoming has always benefited from the influence of people outside the state, and we pray, always will. Land, energy, water, timber and all of Wyoming’s resources have always attracted outside dollars to the state, and it has helped to build our university, community colleges, museums and community projects. For that, we’re grateful for the opportunities.
As stated above, my family bought land from absentee owners and helped grow the ranch years ago. My great grandfather staked and recorded his first piece of land on the Sweetwater River in 1872 – the same year the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) was established. I know that my great grandfather and those who started the WSGA were not natives of Wyoming. My family and WSGA have been in the livestock business 140 years this year, and we’ve survived through the good and bad times, established by people who came to Wyoming.