President Harry S. Truman is welcomed to Casper on May 9, 1953. (Chuck Morrison Collection, Casper College WHC.)

It’s nearly Presidents Day, the holiday the nation established to honor presidents from George Washington to Donald Trump.

The holiday originally was designated to celebrate the February birthdays of Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Washington’s Feb. 22 birthday had been designated a holiday in 1879 under a bill signed by President Rutherford B. Hayes. Hayes’ presidency, the nation’s 19th, preceded Wyoming’s statehood. Hayes did visit Wyoming as president … Wyoming, Pennsylvania, that is, a burg on the Susquehanna River.

President Ulysses Grant was probably the first president to visit Wyoming but Chester Arthur made the longest visit when he took a two-months-long fishing trip to Yellowstone National Park in 1883.

Many other presidents travelled to and through Wyoming, including Teddy Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

Truman made three trips to Casper, two of them while President. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s death on April 12, 1945 raised Truman to the presidency. Later that day, Truman was told the Allies had developed a new, extraordinarily destructive weapon. On April 25, 1945, Secretary of War Henry Stimson gave him the details about the atomic bomb. He authorized dropping the bombs on Japan later that summer.

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Truman made one trip to Casper in 1948 while campaigning for re-election. The second came in May 1950, when this photograph was made. At that time he also traveled up the North Platte River to see and dedicate the newly completed Kortes Dam.

As a former president, he made another trip to Casper in July 1953, when he was photographed with a man believed to be Robert Rose, Jr., the former Casper mayor who Truman named Assistant Secretary of the Interior. Rose, an attorney, later served as chief justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Dan Neal

Dan Neal is serving as WyoFile's legislative editor during the 2019 session of the Wyoming Legislature. He has worked for decades as a journalist in the state. Reach him at 307-258-2783 or dan@wyofile.com....

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