|This 1983: Doomsday page is a Stub.|
Wyoming was a state in the United States of America. The majority of the state is dominated by the mountain ranges and range lands of the Rocky Mountain West, while the easternmost section of the state includes part of a high elevation prairie region known as the High Plains. While it was the tenth largest U.S. state by area, Wyoming was the 49th in population ahead of only Alaska) with a U.S. Census estimated population of 471,000 in 1980. The capital and the most populous city of Wyoming was Cheyenne.
Today, the capital city of Casper is thriving, its population growing to replace that lost on Doomsday and its aftermath. With the exception of Cheyenne and surrounding Laramie county, the state thrives as a integral part of the Provisional United States. The population has risen to around 425,000. Having lost its eastern counties to the new state of Absaroka, the modern state of Wyoming encompasses 89,919 sq mi.
A valley in the northeast corner of Pennsylvania was named xwé:wamənk [cway-wa-menk] by the native peoples that lived near there, meaning "at the big river flat." To the European ear, that sounded something like "Wy-wo-mink" or "Wy-oh-ming" -- the latter made it into the English language and the Wyoming Valley became a place name made notorious by a battle there in 1778. A poem written in 1809 set the name in the hearts of America.
Shortly before that poem was written, the territory of the young nation almost doubled when Napoleon sold his holdings (recently acquired from Spain) to assist in his campaign to rule Europe. Over the next half century that land would be carved up in various ways according to the fortunes of the wars with the indigenous tribes that either lived there or were moved there from the states in the east. One of these territories was named "Wyoming" by Representative J. M. Ashley of Ohio. In 1870, after the American Civil War, that territory was made a state.
Sparsely populated, the state proved to be "progressive" in its politics, being the first to grant women the right to vote (1869). A half century later it would produce the first female governor (1925). With vast areas of wilderness, and the accompanying natural resources, the state was an early "battleground" for ecological stewardship. For the most part, the environment won that war. One notable exception, at least to environmentalists, was the area around the capital city. Its relative remoteness earned it the right to house hundreds of nuclear missiles.
Cheyenne was one of the worst places to be on September 25, 1983. The tri-state area (Wyoming-Nebraska-Colorado) housed over two hundred missile silos, each with a missile tipped with a nuclear warhead. Even if all the missiles were fired, the enemy had already targeted these silos for destruction to stop any second battery from being fired. The only advantage that the government there had over other state governments is that they knew to get out of town immediately! As the missiles were flying overhead, Governor Edgar Herschler knew what had to be done. Prearranged routes out of Cheyenne were taken by every officer of the state that was in town (the part-time legislators mostly being home for the weekend). The destination was tiny Torrington, about 80 miles to the northeast.
The main route, taken by the motorcade of the secretary of state, had the eerie experience not only seeing but feeling many of the missiles as they left their silos less than one km from the side of the road. Governor Herschler could see the missiles as they disappeared over the northern horizon, destined for targets in Russia and eastern Europe. He did not give himself time to be afraid, for he knew that the massive fire power that was going to rain down on Cheyenne would be hard to outrun.
About forty minutes outside of town, the governor and his team discerned that no more missiles were coming. The bombs had turned the ground of most of Laramie county into smoldering glass. Anyone deep within the earth, protected by hundreds of yards of rock and re-enforced concrete, would have most certainly been killed by shock waves. If not, all exits were sealed with radioactive molten rock. It would have been better if they had been vaporized.
Because of the blasts being ground level, the radioactive dust clouds proved a threat to everyone downwind. Fortunately for the Wyoming government, the prevailing winds took the clouds down into Kansas. The primary emergency evacuation point in Torrington had survived. By midnight -- five hours after the attack -- all surviving government officials had made it to Torrington. The vehicles they had used had all had shielded electronics, at least in the control modules, to allow them to run even after the electromagnetic pulses (the one from space and the hundred or so from the ground explosions) stopped radios and other electronic devices they may have had. With flashlights aglow, the first session of the emergency session of the Wyoming executive council began. Key legislators would begin arriving as they were able within the next few weeks.
Everything would continue. But definitely not as usual.
Trouble with the neighbors
The rise of the Lakota . . . More to come