INTO the region that is now the State of Wyoming came explorers, daring fur traders and trappers, friendly and hostile Indians, travel-weary emigrants, and missionaries; scientists, gold-seekers, frontier soldiers, pony express riders, telegraph operators, and stagecoach drivers; English and French nobility bent on big game hunts, railroad builders, cattle barons and cowboys, sheep owners and herders, bandits and rustlers, diamond swindlers, courageous homeseekers, and settlers.
Wyoming is the only State composed of territory acquired from all four of the principal annexations to the original United States. Parts of the state have been claimed at times by five nations, and some 30 changes of boundary have resulted in the present rectangle now on the map.
Although little or nothing was known of the vast territory beyond the Mississippi Valley and Wyoming remained untenanted by white men, Spain, after Columbus's discovery of America, claimed the continent under the papal 'bull' in 1493 as part of the 'countries inhabited by infidels'; her claim being given greater force by De Soto's discovery of the Mississippi River in 1541. The Spanish claim to the country east of the Rocky Mountains was superseded by that of France following the 1682 expedition of La Salle, who gave the territory the name of Louisiana.
France ceded to Spain the western part of this basin in 1762, but in 1792 Lieutenant W. R. Broughton of the Vancouver Expedition claimed the basin of the Columbia River for Great Britain, though Captain Robert Gray of Boston was the first to discover the river in the same year. In 1800 France regained the region that had been relinquished to Spain. This was purchased by the United States in 1803 and was formed into the District of Louisiana in 1804, and then into the Territory of Louisiana in 1805. In 1812 it was organized into Missouri Territory, and in 1834 was made into the Indian Country.