A wild-eyed bronc at Cheyenne Frontier Days. (Mike Vanata)

Coal-plant workers facing an uncertain future, biologists chasing mule-deer migrations, cowboys performing age-old branding rituals and communities grappling with the inexorable change of shifting economies. 

Wyoming in 2019 was the scene of painful transitions, long-held traditions, moments of wonder and crucial conversations about what’s next for the state. WyoFile and its contributors were there to capture these stories in images.

There were big events, like the unveiling of the new Capitol and the news that a large coal company declared bankruptcy, sending miners home.

But there were also the small moments — a scene of triumph during a small-town parade, a conservation hero reflecting on his work, an outdoor lover enjoying Wyoming’s wild landscapes. 

Together, these images portray a state of immense beauty and resilient individuals, where disparate lives are woven together around a shared love for the one-of-a-kind character of Wyoming.  

WyoFile’s 2019 in photography:

Dave Eskelsen surveys the Unit 3 coal grinder at the Naughton Power Plant. The unit shut down in January of 2019. Plant manager Rodger Holt, behind him, looks down from the two-story-high machine that environmental regulations and market forces have sidelined. (Angus M. Thuermer Jr./WyoFile)

In January, the Unit 3 coal grinder at the Naughton Power Plant near Kemmerer shut down. WyoFile photographer Angus M. Thuermer, Jr. shot scenes in the unit before it shuttered.

Early spring in the North Platte River Valley reveals the body of an elk calf with legs entangled in a wire fence meant to keep cattle in but which proved deadly to this ungulate. (Andrew Graham/WyoFile)

Tangled tragedy.

Ted Williams. (Mike Vanata)

The University of Wyoming apologized in September to 14 black athletes cut from the football team 50 years ago for wearing black armbands in protest of a racist Mormon church policy. Laramie-based photographer Mike Vanata shot portraits of seven of the players during their Laramie visit for his Faces of Wyoming project.

Aspen Brooks pets Rio. (Angus M. Thuermer Jr./WyoFile)

A scene from a cattle branding on the Bighorn River.

Sen. Tara Nethercott (R-Cheyenne) enjoys a moment of levity on the floor of the Wyoming Senate. (Andrew Graham/WyoFile)

Legislative levity.

Paul Moss, Sr. telling stories in his home near Ethete in 1990. He is part of a long line of skilled storytellers. (Sara Wiles/The Arapaho Way)

An image from photographer Sara Wiles’ 2019 book, “The Arapaho Way.”

Jimmy Chin (Angus M. Thuermer Jr./WyoFile)

Jackson filmmaker and climber Jimmy Chin, who with his wife Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi made the Oscar-winning documentary “Free Solo,” received the Murie Spirit of Conservation Award in August from the Teton Science Schools and Murie Center.

UW research scientist Samantha Dwinell uses a receiver to search for radio-collared Deer 139, part of her studies of Wyoming Range mulies. (Morgan Heim)

A group of women scientists and adventurers traced the burly path of one tough deer in the film “Deer 139.”

Scott Palmer, manager of technical services at the Bridger Coal Company surface mine, chats with a colleague while standing next to a 2.2-mile-long conveyor belt that hauls coal from two nearby mines to the Jim Bridger Plant, visible in the background. Though workers continue mining and burning coal as they have for decades, Jim Bridger and the mines that support it are threatened by a changing electrical grid. (Andrew Graham/WyoFile)

For WyoFile’s special “Powering Down” issue, reporters Angus M. Thuermer, Jr. and Andrew Graham visited the Jim Bridger Plant in southwest Wyoming.

With sunlight streaming through a screen behind him, hometown hero Jalan Crossland picked a guitar for an adoring crowd in Ten Sleep on the afternoon of Aug. 10. (Andrew Graham/WyoFile)

A hometown favorite at Wyoming’s most low-key music festival.

Mickey Thoman is a cowgirl, mentor and matriarch of the W&M Thoman Ranch in Sweetwater County. (Lindsay Linton Buk/Women in Wyoming)

A portrait from Lindsay Linton Buk’s “Women in Wyoming” project.

Andrew Munz, center, marches in a pride contingent during Jackson’s Old West Days parade in June. (Angus M. Thuermer Jr./WyoFile)

The Old West Days parade in Jackson became more colorful this year with a first-ever pride contingent.

A sign in downtown Rock Springs reminds residents and visitors of the town’s entrenched relationship with coal. (RJ Pieper)

Rock Springs at night.

A curious female turkey at Second Street Farm in Fremont County. (Katie Klingsporn/WyoFile)

Lander’s Second Street Farm joined a long tradition of Wyoming poultry farming when it raised a rafter of turkeys for Thanksgiving tables.

The Horse Thief Saloon in tiny Superior only opens when the owner thinks he’ll get enough business, residents say. The warm summer evening of Aug. 29 didn’t make the cut. (Andrew Graham/WyoFile)

A bar in tiny Superior, Wyoming. 

A DEQ staffer collects sediment samples on Alkali Creek to investigate water quality conditions. DEQ has been working to characterize the chemical makeup of the black sediment. Early indications show it is not related to hydrocarbons or petroleum products, the department said. It is still reviewing more data. (DEQ)

Drilling in the Moneta Divide field has been ongoing since the 1960s. Aethon Energy and Burlington Resources seek to expand the field, a proposal that would entail pouring up to 8.27 million gallons of tainted “produced water” onto the already affected landscape every day.

Birds fly over the Green River Union Pacific Depot in the winter sunlight on the afternoon of Dec. 3, 2019. (Andrew Graham/WyoFile)

A remnant of rail history awaits renovation.

Citizens climb steps in the Wyoming State Capitol on July 10, when the building briefly opened for the public after several years of undergoing a $300 million renovation. (Andrew Graham/WyoFile)

Visitors tour the newly unveiled Capitol building.

From 20 stories up, Naughton Plant Manager Rodger Holt explains how 225,000 tons of coal will be shuttled into three boiler fireboxes, one of which was shut down Jan. 30 to meet environmental regulations. Whether Unit 3 will be converted to run on natural gas remains uncertain. (Angus M. Thuermer Jr./WyoFile)

Surveying a mountain of coal at the Naughton Plant.

Photographer Timothy C. Mayo captured this pika pausing on a rock in northwest Wyoming. (Timothy C. Mayo)

Wyoming’s cutest wildlife.

A canoeist and her canine companion enjoy a placid paddle on a recent calm morning. (Angus M. Thuermer, Jr./WyoFile)

Summer serenity on New Fork Lake.

Skyler Woodruff exchanges a look with Jupiter, a pack llama, high in the Wind River Mountains. (Skyler Woodruff)

A llama, a llook.

Rachel Orenczak and 2.5-year-old daughter Zaidi test out senators’ seats in the restored Wyoming Capitol during a public showing of the building on Wednesday. (Andrew Graham/WyoFile)

Madam senator.

Bernie Caulfield, a supervising engineer at Jim Bridger Plant, says workers there worry about their future. (Angus M. Thuermer, Jr./WyoFile)

Another image from the “Powering Down” issue.

Borne on two flatbed rail cars each, wind turbine blades pass through the historic coal mining town of Rock Springs on Mar. 21. (Andrew Graham/WyoFile)

Change rolls through Rock Springs.

A Wyoming mail carrier encountered this vast herd of migrating pronghorn on a recent delivery. (Louise Lowder)

Wyoming traffic jam.

Headstones fill the graveyard at the Wyoming Frontier Prison in Rawlins. The last inmate to be buried there was interred in 2018. (Angus M. Thuermer Jr./WyoFile)

The State Penitentiary graveyard in Rawlins.

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