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Absaroka: The State That Never Was [VIDEO]

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For people in Northern Wyoming there was once a chance to become part of another proposed state – Absaroka. How much of a real chance was it?

The border shift may have been slightly more likely to happen than Texas or California secession, but it’s interesting how deep sentiments ran in 1939 on a State of Absaroka.

Long before California ever talked of dividing into six states, parts of three western states made an attempt to be joined as one. Portions of Montana and South Dakota would merge with the top swath of the Cowboy State. The capital was planned to be Sheridan. A state license plate was even created, and a “Miss Absaroka” was already named.

Whether pronounced in four syllables or three (əbˈsɔərkə), a Crow tribe gave us the word Absaroka, for which a Rocky Mountain Range was named, and for which “Longmire” named a fictional county.

The remote independent types in Wyoming most wanted to be apart from its own state. They also didn’t care much for the federal government’s New Deal.  A.R. Swickard of Sheridan appointed himself “governor,” and was happy to hear the people’s grievances.

Democrats controlled Wyoming then – mostly in the southern half of the state. The Union Pacific Railroad, and railroad unions, were the state government. A new map was drawn along lines with distinctions in terrain, economic base, and political outlook.

Absaroka just took to Wyoming’s more extreme levels of the conservative. They were people who really were self-sufficient and wanted to be left alone.

Hey, that still sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Wyoming State Archives Brammar Collection
Wyoming State Archives Brammar Collection



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