The History of Wyoming License Plate Numbers + County Number List
Why is Cheyenne #2? The History of Wyoming License Plate Numbers
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You can learn a lot about a person from their license plate. Well, not really. You can learn where they may be from though. What state, of course, but also where in the state they're from.
In Wyoming, as it is in Nebraska, South Dakota, and other states, the first number on our license plates is the county that that car is registered in. For example, Laramie Country, the home of the city of Cheyenne, is number 2; and Albany Country, home of the city of Laramie is number 5. There are 23 counties in Wyoming, so each of our vehicles' plates most likely starts with one of those numbers.
The numbering system dates back to the 1930s. Before that, the state issued license numbers. In 1913 the state saw the first law requiring plates, in the decade prior there had been no requirement. In 1930 the responsibly of issuing plates was given to the counties, that was when the number assignments began. In 1936 the new plats became standard.
Phil Roberts, Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Wyoming, writes on his website Wyomingalmanac.com that matching the counties to their numbers were based on land valuation at the time:
"Another important change occurred in 1930 when each county was given the responsibility for license plate issuance. Numbers were assigned to each county, not on the basis of their populations at the time, but according to the assessed valuation of property within their borders.
The only exception was because of an amendment to the bill in the legislature offered by a Park County legislator. It desginated Park County as number "11" rather than "12" as its assesed valuation stated. Lincoln county, previously #11, became #12.". - Phil Roberts Wyomingalmanac.com
That's why Laramie County, with the bigger population, is '2' and Natrona Country, where Casper is, got '1.'
If you're like me, you may have a hard time remembering what county a plate is from. So, here's the list with county number, country name, and county seat:
- Natrona (Casper)
- Laramie (Cheyenne)
- Sheridan (Sheridan)
- Sweetwater (Green River)
- Albany (Laramie)
- Carbon (Rawlins)
- Goshen (Torrington)
- Platte (Wheatland)
- Big Horn (Basin)
- Fremont (Lander)
- Park (Cody)
- Lincoln (Kemmerer)
- Converse (Douglas)
- Niobrara (Lusk)
- Hot Springs (Thermopolis)
- Johnson (Buffalo)
- Campbell (Gillette)
- Crook (Sundance)
- Uinta (Evanston)
- Washakie (Worland)
- Weston (Newcastle)
- Teton (Jackson)
- Sublette (Pinedale)
Sublette Country may have had the lowest valuation in the '30s, but according to the Wyoming State Historical Society, if the numbers were changed to reflect more current numbers they could be on top. "Since 2000 and the recent natural-gas boom in the county, it [Sublette Country] has vied for number one in assessed valuation, taking turns with coal-rich Campbell County."