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People & Peoples

Robert Roripaugh, Wyoming Poet Laureate 1995-2002

The clear, quiet poetry and fiction of Robert Roripaugh, poet laureate of Wyoming from 1995 through 2002, has long been informed by his youth on his family’s ranch near Lander. In the early 1950s, Roripaugh won bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of the Wyoming before spending two years with the U.S. Army in Japan, where he met and married his wife, Yoshiko. In 1958, the Atlantic Monthly published a short story, and Roripaugh has been publishing and winning prizes on a national level ever since. Also that year he began teaching in the English department at the University of Wyoming, rising to the rank of full professor before retiring in 1993.

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Encyclopedia | Samuel H. “Doc” Knight taught geology at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyo. from 1916 until his retirement in 1963. For a decade he was the only geology teacher, but as his classes began to grow in size and popularity the geology department expanded into a nationally recognized program. He established the university’s science camp in the mountains west of Laramie and revitalized the university’s geological museum. Knight taught an estimated 10,000 students throughout his career and was known to many “Mr. Geology of Wyoming.”
Encyclopedia | Emma Knight, the University of Wyoming’s first dean of women, bore four children and served seven years as the Albany County, Wyoming superintendent of schools before she finally graduated from the university in 1911, the same year as her daughter. The wife and mother of UW professors of geology—Wilbur and Samuel H. Knight—she was highly regarded by her students and colleagues. Knight Hall on the UW campus is named in her honor.
Encyclopedia | The Finley Site, located near Eden in Sweetwater County, Wyo., was used by early American Indians to trap and kill bison. The Finley Site is an early Holocene Paleo-Indian bison-kill and processing area, dating back about 7,500 to 12,500 years before the present. This was the first place where Eden points and two kinds of Scottsbluff projectile points were found together, showing that the three were contemporaneous. The Finley Site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Encyclopedia | Owen Wister’s enormously popular novel, The Virginian, published in 1902, was set in Wyoming and established the cowboy in American literature as the noble, competent, humorous, laconic hero still familiar today. Wister, a Philadelphian, first came to Wyoming in 1885, looking for stories and better health. He visited the state 14 more times between then and 1900, writing and publishing western stories and books of stories before The Virginian made him famous and rich, and set a pattern for thousands of western novels and films to come.
Encyclopedia | During Francis Warren's second term as Territorial Governor, Wyoming was granted statehood on July 10, 1890. Territorial Governor Warren was then elected Wyoming's first State Governor September 11, 1890.
Encyclopedia | Three-time All-American Kenny Sailors, of tiny Hillsdale, Wyo. led the University of Wyoming’s 1943 men’s basketball team to an NCAA championship in Madison Square Garden. Sailors was only 5 feet 10, but he was a great jumper and shooter, and highly skilled with a weapon of his own invention—the jump shot.
Encyclopedia | The yarn that Thomas Edison dreamed up the idea of a bamboo filament for the incandescent electric light bulb while staring into a Wyoming campfire is almost certainly not true. He did come to Rawlins, Wyoming Territory in 1878, however, as part of an astronomical expedition, and he did go fishing afterwards. The rest of the facts still make for a pretty interesting story.
Encyclopedia | Bill Carlisle robbed passengers on the Union Pacific Railroad three times in 1916 and once more in 1919, after escaping from the state penitentiary in a box of shirts. In 1936 he was paroled and opened a café and tourist court in Laramie, and later wrote a book about his remarkable life.

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