EARLY in the nineteenth century, Wyoming was marked on the map as part of the Great American Desert. According to Daniel Webster, it 'was not worth a cent,' being, as he declared in 1844, 'a region of savages, wild beasts, shifting sands, whirlwinds of dust, cactus, and prairie dogs.'
For a time many shared his opinion. During the 1840's and 1850's hundreds of thousands of emigrants pushed their way over the Oregon and California Trails in search of homes on the Pacific Coast, unmindful of the agricultural possibilities of the territory they traversed. Perhaps this was because the old trails crossed some of the most barren, desolate, and unpromising parts of what later became Wyoming.
It is now a great rural State, where three kinds of agriculture- stock raising, farming by irrigation, and dry farming--are practiced. Although the values of land and livestock have diminished in relation to the corporate property of the State, stock raising is still about six times as important as crop farming. Hay is the foremost crop, both in acreage and value, and alfalfa is first among the varieties cultivated. Wheat, corn, potatoes, beets of unusually high sugar content, barley, rye, beans, and apples are among the crops raised.
The great range in altitudes affords a wide variety in soil and climatic conditions, and the small amount of rainfall during the harvest season permits produce to ripen or cure in fine condition. Forage and cereal crops excel in nutritive value; vegetables develop to unusual sizes in the higher altitudes and are especially solid, crisp, and full of flavor.
The greatest agricultural development, since pioneer times, has been in the livestock industry. The proportion of good farming lands in the State is small compared with the great ranch areas that are, and probably always will be, best adapted to grazing. Agricultural experts recommend the merging of small areas of submarginal land, such as