With its myopic view of flyover country, The New York Times has designated Wyoming as one of its 52 places to visit in 2019.
The reason: In 1869, the Territory of Wyoming passed the first law in the United States giving women the right to vote.
The state should be applauded for its acknowledgment of women, but the news organization clearly does not understand Wyoming and its people.
Almost my entire family was born in Wyoming. I drifted a bit since I was born in neighboring Idaho. My grandfathers worked the Chisholm Trail and settled in Rawlins. One of my grandfathers became sheriff there.
I even herded cattle one summer in Torrington after I graduated from high school.
Here’s what Wyoming is about.
More than two-thirds of the residents are registered Republicans and have voted for the GOP in every presidential election since 1964. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, the man Democrats love to hate, hails from Wyoming.
There are no individual or corporate taxes. A respected outfit designated Wyoming as the best place for businesses to operate.
Nearly everyone owns guns.
Author C. J. Box described what he tries to accomplish in his novels about the state. “People still wear cowboy hats, live on ranches, and enjoy traditional activities and culture,” he said in a recent interview with a magazine about mystery writers. “But at the same time, Wyoming is on the cutting edge of major issues such as energy development, wind turbines, environmentalism, preservation of the wilderness, and all the other social and cultural issues that go along with these areas…. Some other portrayals of the modern west have everyone as a laidback rube speaking ‘kinda slow.” But that’s not the case.”
As a side note, one of my favorite novels by Box is an investigation of who killed a man hanged from the top of a wind turbine. There were many suspects, including the neighbors who couldn’t stand the mind-numbing sound of the turbines and the people he bilked out of millions of dollars to fund the inefficient wind farm.
I hope many people visit Wyoming at the suggestion of The New York Times. I also hope they travel far beyond the sushi bars of Jackson Hole, the tourist traps of Yellowstone Park, and the feminist enclaves celebrating the right to vote.
One final note: It’s worth mentioning the Matthew Shepard case, which bought Wyoming unwanted and perhaps erroneous attention. Shepard was murdered in 1998 in what the media termed a horrid hate crime. A recent book, however, calls into question the motive of the crime. Instead it may have been a drug deal gone wrong. See https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/26/the-truth-behind-americas-most-famous-gay-hate-murder-matthew-shepard