The University of Wyoming Opened 132 Years Ago This Week
September 6, 1887, the University of Wyoming officially opened, welcoming 42 students and five faculty members.
The first class at UW ranged in age from 23 to 12 and included several women. When it opened, there was only one building on campus, which held classrooms, a library, administrative offices, and a 500-seat auditorium. The building is still standing 132 years later and is affectionately called "Old Main".
The Wyoming Territorial Legislator allocated $50,000 for construction of the University, which began in 1886 on the site of Laramie's original city park. Laramie was chosen in a compromise by lawmakers who wanted to the University to be located along the Union Pacific railroad line. Since Cheyenne already had the State Capitol and the fledgling territory had just spent $10,000 for an insane asylum in Evanston, Laramie got the University. Construction on Old Main was completed on September 1, 1887, just five days before UW held its first class.
The curriculum in the early years was focused primarily on agriculture and engineering courses. Today, the University of Wyoming offers over 120 areas of study and has grown from 42 students to over 12,000.
September 6th also marks another historic anniversary in Wyoming. On this date in 1870, Laramie resident Elza Swain became the first American woman to cast a vote in an election. A year earlier, Wyoming had become the first territory to allow women to vote.