Affectionately referred to a “Doc” Knight, Samuel H. Knight grew up in Laramie and after receiving his PhD. from Columbia University, returned to Laramie, succeeding his father as the second Wyoming State Geologist. Serving as both the Wyoming State Geologist and Head of the UW Geology Department, Knight developed renowned UW Geological Museum exhibits. Knight is responsible for many exhibits currently on display, including the copper T-Rex guarding the entrance and the original mounting of the museum centerpiece, the Apatosaurus skeleton.
Early on Knight knew that Wyoming was one of the greatest collecting grounds for vertebrate fossils in the United States. Collecting was one of Knight’s joys and even with minimal funding was able to build UW’s vast vertebrate Paleontology collections. Doc’s geology department equipped many Wyoming students to participate nationwide in the petroleum industry, creating and empowering many young contributors to the field of geology.
Doc Knight is certainly Mr. Wyoming Geology and his influence has reached far and wide. In honor of “Doc” Knight in 1999 UW’s American Heritage Center, after considerable input from citizens and the Wyoming Legislature, named him “Wyoming Citizen of the Century.” Knight’s wisdom, ethics, knowledge and gift for teaching can still be felt on the plains of Wyoming today.
Through his research and contributions Knight is celebrated for making the Department of Geology one of the finest in the country. The S.H. Knight Building is named in his honor.
Courtesy of the Wyoming University, The First 100 Years 1886-1986. Image courtesy of the UW American Heritage Center.