There's a lot of oil under Wyoming.

A fossil fuel, right?

Well, actually, nothing that we call "fossil fuels" actually has anything to do with fossils.

Better to call them "organic fuels," because they did not go through the process of "fossilization" that creates fossils.

So let's take a look at how Wyoming oil was actually created.

About 100 million years ago was what we call the Cretaceous Period.

The place we now call Wyoming was under a shallow sea that ran from the Gulf Of Mexico up through Alaska.

At that time global temperatures were much hotter. The planet did not even have any polar ice caps.

Because the planet was much warmer and there was more life-giving CO2 in the air, life was abundant.

Wyoming would have been in about the center of that inland sea. Sediments from the surrounding land would have flowed into that shallow sea from the land on either side.

That sediment built up. The sea became more shallow.

Pressure from layer after layer of sediment pushed down on the sea bed. That's because of the sandstone and shale we see on the surface of Wyoming today.

That sandstone and shale has a lot of space in it. It's very porous.

Microbial life, both living and dead, got trapped in and under all of that sediment. Layer after layer pushed in deeper under more and more pressure and heat.

During the Cretaceous, the sea levels advance and receded many times. Just like today, as sea levels rise and fall over time, or temperatures and rainfall varies from year to year.

Finally, the sea became a massive inland lake, then a swamp. That's right, Wyoming was once a swamp, like the Everglades of Florida.

The area we now call "THE WEST" has slowly been pushed up, and has been getting dryer, for millions of years. That process continues to this day.

Drill down far enough and you'll find layers of those old microbes that were trapped under that silt, so long ago. That silt is now shale and sandstone, among other things.

Those microbes have been transformed, under heat and pressure, and we now use them as crude oil.

Old Medicine Of The Chugwater Wyoming Drugstore

If you visit the tiny town of Chugwater Wyoming you'll find the newly restored Soda Fountain.

In fact it's Wyoming's oldest soda fountain and malt shot.

It's always worth stopping in for breakfast or lunch, or maybe a shake or malt.

The place was a drug store and soda fountain for the longest time.

Back then soda was actually used to cure an upset stomach.

So what sort of old medicines were left behind by Chugwater's last pharmacist?

It turns out, some of them are on display.

A New Book About Wyoming's Big Nose George

More From Wake Up Wyoming