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Wyoming Highway Patrol Hosting 90th Anniversary BBQ in Thermopolis

On Wednesday, July 19th the Wyoming Highway Patrol and Wyoming Department of Transportation are hosting a celebration to recognize the agency’s 90th anniversary.

The event will be held in Thermopolis, Wyoming at the Hot Springs State Park and is open to the public.

This family friendly event will have bounce houses, face painting, food and drinks provided and catered by WYDOT. There will also be a Wyoming Highway Patrol Historical Display showcasing trooper uniforms through the years, photos, and other items used throughout the department’s history.

Founded in 1933, the Wyoming Highway Patrol was founded when the Wyoming Department of Law Enforcement was disbanded after the Wyoming Legislature repealed its prohibition laws. At the time, the Wyoming Department of Law Enforcement’s sole duty was to uphold prohibition laws, but after the disbandment of the agency , the State of Wyoming found a need for a state level law enforcement agency that was able to uphold the laws of the state without worry of city or county boundaries.

On May 23, 1933, Captain George Smith was announced as the leader of the Wyoming Highway Patrol by the Highway Commission. Captain Smith and six newly trained Patrolmen were then tasked with the duty to “enforce the laws of the state relating to the registration and licensing of motor vehicles, the laws relating to use and operation of motor vehicles on highways, and all laws for the protection of the highways.”

Courtesy Photo (Wyoming Highway Patrol)

Once the newly formed Wyoming Highway Patrol left the state capital, the patrolmen were provided automobiles from the state, and uniforms that consisted of forest green military coats with a buffalo and a winged wheel insignia on the arm, along with oak brown pants and caps, Sam Browne belts, and brown riding boots.

This was the Wyoming Highway Patrol uniform until the mid-2000s when they transitioned to the green uniform that we know today and the current shoulder patch was introduced to the uniforms in 1976.

The original divisions in the state were Lovell, Laramie, Basin, Gillette, Green River, and Casper, with Captain Smith remaining at the headquarters in Cheyenne. By 1935, each patrolman was working an average of 67 hours a week and driving about 570 miles.

Today, there are 208 active patrolmen driving over 5.5 million miles. The Wyoming Highway Patrol investigates nearly 8,000 motor vehicle crashes across Wyoming.

Although the agency looks dramatically different than it did when it was founded 90 years ago, their mission has always remained the same, to make Wyoming’s highway safer to travel.

The “Guardians of the Cowboy State” will be celebrating their almost century long  history with a BBQ at Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis. Festivities start at 10 a.m. and will finish by 3 p.m and the public is encouraged to attend.

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