Archives On The Air 4: Who Gets License Plate Number 1?—Jacob M. Schwoob Papers

Jun 21, 2018

Jacob M. Schwoob and a woman next to his car and a collection of his number 1 license plates, in front of Buffalo Bill monument, 1929. Box 5, Jacob M. Schwoob papers.
Credit American Heritage Center

The State of Wyoming began issuing motor vehicle license plates in 1913. Who got license plate number 1? The man who wrote the motor vehicle licensing law: Park County’s state senator Jacob M. Schwoob.

Schwoob served in the Wyoming senate from 1905 until 1913.

Schwoob continued to apply for and receive plate #1 annually until 1929. After that he was awarded the number for life.

The honor recognized not only his authorship of the licensing bill, but also his advocacy of good roads for the sake of Wyoming’s economic development.

Jacob M. Schwoob sitting on his car, with his number 1 license plate, undated. Box 5, Jacob M. Schwoob papers.
Credit American Heritage Center

He pushed through a law to permit counties to issue bonds for road-building.

He also pressed for the introduction of automobiles into Yellowstone National Park. Automobiles were first allowed in Yellowstone in 1915.

Schwoob’s papers available at UW’s American Heritage Center detail a time when automobile travel was a new experience for most Wyoming travelers.