Introduction to Laramie, Wyoming
The Wyoming city of Laramie, often referred to as the "Gem City of the Plains," is the county seat of Albany County. It is located in the southeastern part of Wyoming on the Laramie River, approximately 45 miles northwest of the state capital of Cheyenne. First settled in 1868 and incorporated in 1874, the city is home to the University of Wyoming, the state’s only four-year institution, and also to Wyoming Technical Institute. Perched at an elevation of nearly 7,200 feet above sea level, Laramie is one of the highest-elevation incorporated cities in the US. Just east of the city is Interstate 80's highest point (8,640 feet above sea level) and west of Laramie is Medicine Bow Peak, which rises to 12,013 feet.
Laramie's early days typified a Wild West town, replete with rough and rowdy characters. Vigilante justice mitigated the problem somewhat and in 1872, the Wyoming Territorial Prison was built near Laramie. In later years, this prison housed many famous outlaws, including Butch Cassidy. The year 1870 was a significant one in Laramie's history, marking the first time in U.S. history that a woman voted in a general election after the Wyoming Territory passed the nation's first women's suffrage legislation. The year 1786 saw the opening of Wyoming University (today's University of Wyoming) in Laramie, an event which helped stabilize the city and influenced its growth and development for years to come. The university graduated its first class before the Wyoming territory became a state in 1890. Laramie today is an interesting mix of academia, Old West history, cattle ranches, and a scenic and beautiful mountain landscape.
The Wyoming Territorial Prison is now a State Historic Site, open for tours. Restored in 1989, the penitentiary site sits on 190 acres and includes a dinner theater, a country church, and a frontier town with living history characters. Special events taking place there include Ghost Tours of Laramie City, the Butch Cassidy Chili Cook-off, and theater performances. Other Laramie attractions include the following:
- Wyoming Children's Museum and Nature Center: Hands-on interactive exhibits and also a nature center, a discovery center, and youth classes in pottery and ceramics
- University of Wyoming Geological Museum: Houses more than 50,000 rock, fossil, and mineral specimens
- American Heritage Center: Extensive archive of rare books and manuscripts
- Insect (Entomology) Museum: Largest insect collection in Wyoming, with over 200,000 insect specimens
- University of Wyoming Art Museum
- University of Wyoming Anthropology Museum
- Laramie Plains Museum and Ivinson Mansion
- Wyoming Infrared Observatory (at Jelm Mountain, 25 miles southwest of Laramie)
- Ames Monument (located about 20 miles east of Laramie)
Popular sports in Wyoming are typical of the Western area and its natural resources. Rodeos are held throughout the state, featuring skills developed by ranch hands in herding cattle. One of the state's largest, held in nearby Cheyenne, is the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. Skiing and water activities are also big in the Laramie region. The Snowy Range ski resort is located only a short 23 miles away. Trout fishing and white water paddling can be found at nearby Laramie River, only 20 miles outside of the city.
There are no major league professional sports teams in Wyoming. Minor League Baseball can be found in Casper (about 145 miles north of Laramie) where the Casper Rockies reside. The Rockies play in the Pioneer League and are a rookie-league affiliate of Major League Baseball's Colorado Rockies. Also in Casper is the Wyoming Cavalry, a team in the National Indoor Football League. Collegiate sports fans don't have to leave the confines of Laramie, where the University of Wyoming Cowboys compete in the Mountain West Conference. They Cowboys won collegiate football's Sun Bowl in 1956 and 1958, and they participated in its Holiday Bowl in 1987 and 1988.
Outdoor activities in Laramie include skiing, snowmobiling, fishing, mountain biking as well as hiking. Cross-country skiing trails are maintained in the area. The Snowy Range Ski Area is situated approximately 30 miles from Laramie city and provides opportunities for downhill skiing and snowboarding. The Laramie Range as well as the Snowy Range offer numerous trails for mountain biking. Visitors have the opportunity to see wildlife including elk, moose and pronghorn antelope.
Laramie was established in the 1860's and was actually a city of tents. Buildings such as churches, houses, stores and a school were constructed in the city soon after the first train arrived in Laramie in 1868. Wyoming was recognized as Wyoming Territory in 1869. The newly formed legislature granted political rights to women who resided in the territory. A woman resident of Laramie has the distinction of casting the first vote by a woman in the United States. She cast her vote in 1870. Industries at the time included rolling mills, brickyard, slaughterhouse, brewery, plaster mill, glass-blowing plant and railroad yards.
Laramie is served by the Laramie Regional Airport. Flights are offered on a daily basis to Denver. The airport offers service for commercial air flights as well as private planes. Greyhound has a bus depot located in the city.
Laramie is home to the University of Wyoming. The University is located on the high Laramie Plains at an elevation of approximately 7,200. The university is recognized as a national research university and is well known for its research activities in the areas of environment and natural resources. The University of Wyoming specializes in research in agriculture, water resources, energy and geology. The university is also recognized as a noteworthy location of performing arts events such as rock concerts, classical concerts and events featuring members of the theater and dance departments.