SOUTH PASS CITY — A 19-mile stretch of Wyoming Highway 28 will forever be affiliated with women’s suffrage in the Cowboy State.
The route, which starts at mile marker 44 outside South Pass City and goes to the boundary for the Shoshone National Forest, was officially christened the Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Pathway on Tuesday.
The number 19 recognizes the 19th Amendment, which allowed women to vote across the nation.
Forty-four is significant because Wyoming was the 44th state to join the union in 1890, “and that was by alignment of the stars,” said Karla Stackis, executive assistant to the Wyoming deputy secretary of state.
During the dedication ceremony Gov. Matt Mead said we must remember the men and women whose vision gave women the right to vote.
Wyoming territorial legislator William Bright proposed a measure giving women the right to vote that Esther Hobart Morris, later the first female United States justice of the peace, supported. Territorial Governor John Campbell signed it into law on Dec. 10, 1869.
The dedicated signage is part of the celebration of Wyoming women’s suffrage. In 2019, the state will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the territory’s decision to grant women the right to vote in 1869. In 2020 it will honor Louisa Swain, who became the first woman to cast a vote in a general election on Sept. 6, 1870.
“Wyoming really needs to celebrate this,” Mead said. “This is our heritage.”
In 2016, Mead signed an executive order 2016-04 creating a 13-member governor’s council for the Wyoming women’s suffrage celebration. Its objectives are to honor the state’s contribution to history and “foster broader recognition of it beyond Wyoming, and to encourage research and advocacy on the right, privilege, and the responsibility of the vote,” according to Wyoming Department of Transportation meeting minutes.
People like Wyoming Department of Transportation Director Bill Panos, Chief Engineer Gregg Frederick and legislators helped get the sign made and then dedicated.
It took an incredible amount of agency coordination, according to Wyoming Secretary of State Office Election Policy and Planning Analyst Jennifer Trabing. There were a lot of different players in making this happen.
The Wyoming Transportation Commission adopted a resolution in November 2017 supporting the idea.
Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne, became the lead sponsor of Senate Enrolled Act 30 during the 2018 budget session to give the go-ahead to create the sign and dedicate the route.
On Tuesday, Nethercott offered advice.
She said support your daughters, support your wives, support your mothers — they are the ones who will lead the way to tomorrow.