The beautiful outdoors, pristine wilderness, small Western towns — that is Wyoming. Here are a few facts about our wonderful state.

Between 1843 and 1869, almost half a million emigrants passed Independence Rock on their way to a new life on the American frontier. Thousands of those travelers documented the grueling trek by inscribing their names on this important landmark. Independence Rock is a large granite rock, approximately 130 feet high, 1,900 feet long and 850 feet wide, located on Highway 220 in southwestern Natrona County.

In the late 1920s, Teton County was assigned the license plate prefix 22 because it had next to the lowest assessed value of all the counties in Wyoming at the time. Sublette County was assigned 23, as it had the lowest.

Fifty years ago, in 1971, there was a massive killing of eagles in Wyoming. Those who leased public lands organized a campaign to kill bald and golden eagles. Poisoning and aerial gunning were methods used to wipe out our national bird and nation’s symbol. At least 800 eagles in Wyoming alone were killed. There was an illegal $25 bounty on these beautiful birds.

In 1979 the black-footed ferret was declared extinct in the world. In 1981 a pet dog dragged a carcass of an unknown animal to the dog’s ranch home near Meeteetse. A taxidermist knew immediately what it was: a black-footed ferret. He called Wyoming Game and Fish. Fifty ferrets were found. By 1985 the plague had wiped out all but 18. They were placed in a captive facility to prevent extinction. In 2016 the critters were reintroduced to their original home. There are now more than 1,500 ferrets. A study showed that a ferret and her litter of kits will kill and eat more than 1,000 prairie dogs a year.

Wyoming has six people per square mile. New York City has 27,000 people per square mile.

The Yellowstone fires of 1988 burned 683,000 of the national park’s 2.2 million acres and 1.2 million acres total within the greater Yellowstone area. Fire experts originally did nothing to combat the blazes because that was park policy. The fires caused the death of 390 animals: 333 elk, 32 mule deer, 12 moose, nine bison and six black bears. Most animals saw the flames coming and got out of the way,

Trona is Wyoming’s top international export, and at the current rate of operation our state’s trona reserves will last more than 2,000 years. The Green River area in Sweetwater County is known as the “Trona Capital of the World.” Soda ash is derived from trona and is used to make glass, paper products and laundry detergents.

By the numbers in Sweetwater County: Average cost of a one-bedroom apartment, $893. Median home price, $201,000. Average cost of dinner for two, $45. Average cost of a haircut, $35.

Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge spans over 26,400 acres in southwestern Wyoming. Take Highway 28 out of Farson. It’s worth the detour.

A few pet peeves

Chris Christian: People who stop at the roundabouts like they are stop signs.

Lin Hazen: When people put on Facebook that they are from Jackson when they have been here five years or less.

Sean Monaghan: Off-leash dogs, kids on e-bikes, jaded self-absorbed folks, and Utah drivers.

Kathy Lee: Bikes that aren’t visible in the dark streets.

Tommie Egan: 20,000-square-foot homes.

Mia Bee: High property taxes.

Scavenger hunt answer found

This came from Becky Kimmel, director of development, at the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum.

Do you like memory teasers? Then this story is for you. Fifteen years ago the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole commissioned a bronze sculpture to honor Mr. and Mrs. Old Bill and commemorate the 10th anniversary of Old Bill’s Fun Run. The sculpture sits in a landscaped area in front of the Teton County/Jackson Recreation Center, but without a plaque. This mystery work of art, sculpted by Joffa Kerr, was a question on the recent Old Bill’s Scavenger Hunt hosted by the Community Foundation. It was a fun, adventure-filled morning of answering 30 questions related to the local nonprofit community.

The Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum scavenger hunt team, represented by Morgan and Nick Jaouen, Maria Rachal and Ethan Cummings and called The History Mystery Machine, answered 29 of the 30 questions and received the most points. There were 61 participating teams. The History Mystery Machine’s success means a $1,000 philanthropic contribution to the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum.

The only question the team members missed, even with quite a bit of research, was the name of the sculpture, which they later found out is Obie. A cute name.

Connie Owen would love to hear your stories. Call or email her at 605-593-2730 or connie_owen@msn.

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