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Three of Wyoming’s Top Artifacts are Housed at UW

November 9, 2015

Three of the state’s top 10 artifacts are housed at the University of Wyoming.

Last week, the Wyoming State Historical Society and the UW Libraries announced the final list of the top 10 Wyoming artifacts, as selected by voters across the state as part of the 125th anniversary of Wyoming statehood.

The 10 winners were selected from a list of 25 finalists which, in turn, were whittled down from more than 40 entries submitted by museums and libraries across the state. The submissions included documents, books, fossils, clothing, artwork and much more, each showcasing a unique element of Wyoming history.

The complete list can be found here. Number one on the list was an original Wyoming state flag, owned by the Natrona County Public Library. The flag was given to the library by Verna Keays Keyes, the flag's original designer, in 1967. Keyes received the flag from the 28th Wyoming Legislature in 1945.

The three artifacts that can be found at UW are the 1863 Bridger-Collins map, drawn by mountain man Jim Bridger and housed in the American Heritage Center (AHC), ranked third; a dinosaur skeleton in the UW Geological Museum, ranked sixth; and four Clovis projectile points, housed in the State Archaeologist’s office in the UW Anthropology Building, ranked seventh.

The Bridger-Collins map was first drawn by Bridger in the dirt, then with charcoal on animal skin and later transferred to paper by prominent Western military leader Col. William Collins. It is notably significant because it shows much of Wyoming in detail before it became a territory in 1868. Place names of buttes, mountains, rivers and streams are noted, according to AHC archivist John Waggener.

The dinosaur skeleton was found by UW graduate Charles W. Gilmore, who worked for the Smithsonian Institution for 40 years, and was procured and mounted by legendary geologist Samuel “Doc” Knight. It is one of the only mounted dinosaurs collected shortly after the famous “Bone Wars” that remain in Wyoming, and one of only six mounted Apatosaurus skeletons in the country, says Laura Vietti, Geological Museum manager.

The Clovis points, found at the significant Colby archaeological site in northern Wyoming, provide unequivocal evidence of systematic, deliberately planned mammoth hunting by humans. They also demonstrate the fine quality of stone tools manufactured by prehistoric people in Wyoming, says Jody Clauter, collections manager at the UW Archaeological Repository.

“These points were carefully constructed and beautifully made by expert artisans,” Clauter says. “They reach beyond being simply a survival tool.”

display of four sets of flint arrow or spear heads

These Clovis points provide evidence that humans hunted mammoths in northern Wyoming. (Wyoming State Archaeologist)

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