It has always been a mystery to me why millions of people are not moving to Wyoming. For decades, I have expected our borders to be pounded by the influx of all these people who finally saw the light, packed up their belongings, kissed their hometowns good-bye and headed to the Promised Land. Our promised land.
A vast majority of my Wyoming friends would exclaim that they are really (I mean, really!) happy that this invasion of newcomers has not happened.
As the least populated state in the country, Wyoming holds a unique status, a sort of a special cache? ? almost like it is a secret that only those of us who are already here know about.
Oh Wyoming, what a paradise we must seem to be to those poor uninformed souls out there enduring the horrible life that living in a blue state can portend!
We are the land of the free. We are home on the range. We are the Code of the West. We are full of individuals.
Flee the hive. Cast away the chains of over-population and come to a place where just you and five other people occupy each square mile of space.
Again, not sure my friends would approve if I issued an invitation to bright, articulate and well-intentioned folks from other parts of the country (or the world?) to pack up and come west. Way out west -out here in flyover country.
Why aren?t they coming?
Where are the hordes?
I feel like a lonely sentry assigned to a border post watching for advancing armies of invaders, only instead of repelling them, my job would be to welcome them.
Well, here I am? But where are they?
The fact that millions of outsiders are not rushing into Wyoming actually makes me happy. I want that perfectly understood. It just amazes me to be so wrong about such a conclusion. Wyoming is my favorite place in the USA.
We have the best scenery. We have the lowest taxes. Great roads. Wonderful small cities and towns. Nice people. Our folks are getting a little long of tooth, but then again, when you live such a good life, maybe you tend to live a little longer. Maybe it just seems longer.
We really do have our own set of universal truths and fundamental values. Some good folks tried to quantify this as the Code of the West. These are the types of necessary rules that a lonely people develop when their population is so thin, it makes sense to self-govern. Much like the Golden Rule, it means that you look out for your fellow man when there are so few of you scattered around such a big place.
And 98,000 square miles is a really, really big place. Our new population estimate of 576,000 people means we now have less than six people per square mile in Wyoming.
Perhaps here is another big surprise: Wyoming is the fastest growing state in the 21st century. The Cowboy State, percentage-wide, added more population than any other state according to the 2010 census and recently revealed it continues to grow at an amazing rate ? adding 15,000 more people since 2010. Yippee, I guess.
Maybe the hordes are coming and I have been oblivious. I have been busy keeping my head down and producing a book extolling the beauty of our state. The only serious criticism of this project has been a fear on the part that it will cause even more people to move here.
I tend to be partial to my hometown of Lander, which sits nestled in a pretty valley underneath towering mountains. The lack of wind makes it unique in Wyoming but it is the people that really make it special.
Lately, my book promotion travels have been taken me to places like Rock Springs, Riverton, Laramie, Cheyenne, Douglas, Thermopolis, Casper and Cody. I met with lots of people in those towns and you know what? They are just as nice as the folks back in Lander.
Our state is full of wonderful people who are knowledgeable and friendly. People who, although offering individualist styles, still exude Wyoming Cowboy Ethics.
Thus, it now occurs to me that we probably should not issue a blanket invitation to folks to come to Wyoming. Maybe we should make them pass a test before entering here?
Most of all, Wyoming is a haven for genuine, hard-working friendly people. If you are a nice person, then you can come in. Otherwise, please stay away.
Check out Bill Sniffin?s columns and blogs at www.billsniffin.com. He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written four books. His most recent book is Wyoming's 7 Greatest Natural Wonders? which is available at www.wyomingwonders.com.