On my way back to Wisconsin from the Denver area, I decided to slide up to Cheyenne, Wyoming and visit for a day or so. I loved it. As an easterner, though one who has traveled around the world, Cheyenne fit my expectations of what things are like out west. The city does "conjure up images of cowboys, rodeos and trains" just like the Visit Wyoming website suggests. Those are the things I lived for when I was young, and the feeling doesn't change when one gets up in years. As is always the case with me, I did not have enough time to see everything I should have, but I spent enough time to fall in love with the place.
December 8, 2016
"The Spirit of Wyoming," a monument to the citizens of the State of Wyoming. Edward J. Fraughton describes it as "a sculpture a cowboy and his horse at odds against nature and it's elements."
"The Spirit of Wyoming" sits on the grounds of the Capitol building. Cheyenne is the capital of Wyoming and the state's largest city. The architecture of the building is renaissance revival. The building's cornerstone was laid on May 18, 1887, with maps, a roster of territorial officers and other papers inside. During the Centennial of the Capitol in 1987, the cornerstone was removed, these documents were replaced and the cornerstone reset.
The exterior approach to the front steps of the Capitol features the State Seal in granite as well as two statues.
The first statue is of Esther Hobart Morris who played a leading role in gaining women's suffrage in the state, sculpted by Avard Fairbanks.
The second sculpture is of Chief Washakie of the Shoshone tribe, sculpted by Dave McGary. Chief Washakie earned a reputation that lives on to this day: fierce warrior, skilled politician and diplomat, great leader of the Shoshone people, friend to white men.
This is a statue of a young cow, or more properly a heifer, also on the grounds of the Capitol. There is a fantastic sculpture of a bison nearby but somehow I missed it.
This reproduction of the Liberty Bell was presented to the people of Wyoming by direction of the Honorable John W. Snyder, Secretary of the Treasury. It serves as the inspirational symbol of the United States Savings Bonds independence drive from May 15 to July 4, 1950, and was displayed in every part of this state. The dimensions and tone are identical with those of the original Liberty Bell when it rang out independence in 1776. It is dedicated to the state's and country's free citizens in a free land. It too is on the Capitol grounds.
This is arguably one of the more famous landmarks in Cheyenne, the Depot. In 1993 the Union Pacific donated the building to the City of Cheyenne and Laramie County, and stabilization of the building was begun a year later. Since then, the building has undergone various stages of an extensive rehabilitation project. The first floor now houses the Cheyenne Depot Museum and a brewpub/restaurant. The upper levels house offices for various city and private concerns related to tourism, economic development and the museum.
The museum tells the story of the Cheyenne beginnings during the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, the Union Pacific Depot and the Railroad it is named after. You can view the Union Pacific Main Yard from the Coupler addition on the west end of the Depot, and experience more of the history of the Cheyenne Depot Museum.
This print of the painting "Big Boy" by Tucker Smith was among the first exhibits to draw my attention. The Union Pacific was the first transcontinental railroad and has always been one of the most important railroads in the United States. It is particularly famous for its large freight engines which pulled the long grades over the Continental Divide.The "Big Boy" steam locomotives were the largest steam engines in the world. They were articulated engines with 4-8-8-4 wheel configurations. They were used by the Union Pacific from 1941 through the mid-50s. The setting for the painting is the sandstone cliffs along the Green River just west of Green River, WY. The painting portrays an eastbound freight at sunset. It is fantastic, even as a print, to see in person.
There is a charge to get into the museum proper, which I did not wish to pay at the time. The museum hosts a Union Pacific steam shop and roundhouse where you can get to see some of the old trains. This is a photo hanging outside the museum of one of those engines, showing a mechanic working on the inside. Next time I'll pay but I thought this was neat.
So here is every boy's wish for Christmas, a model like this of Big Boy. This is original hand carved artwork done by Wilbur Craig.
I suppose I am biased, but this photo of the "free section" of the museum reflects that it is a first class operation. You get the feel you are in a special place that reflects a special time in American history.
When I entered the Depot I had no idea there was a bar and restaurant, a bar serving beer brewed right here.
I visited on May 25, 2015, and now understand it has been closed, much to my great regret. I really enjoyed myself here. It opened in April 2015, faced some delays, and then apparently shut down operations later in the year. One writer said it was due to poor overall management, a shame because the owners were very excited about this endeavor.
The Cheyenne Depot Plaza has become the cultural and entertainment hub of Downtown Cheyenne, striving to provide educational programming and events in conjunction with the City of Cheyenne that enrich the community. I'll walk you around. It's neat.
The "Iron Horse." Artist Lyle Nichols said, "The idea was to dedicate this sculpture to the railroad workers of Wyoming and Cheyenne, hence the name the 'Iron Horse,' and it's made of old tools, some from the railroads." Nichols found all of the materials for the sculpture in a dumpster near the Cheyenne railroad. Those parts include an old license plate, a can opener, washers from train wheels, and wrenches.
Outside the entry to the museum stands a statue depicting an early pioneer woman. The statue has been named, "The New Beginning." The statue is meant to honor the women who settled the area in the early pioneer days. She looks straight down Capital Avenue towards the Capitol. The statue also is meant as a reminder that Wyoming was the first territory and state to provide women the right to vote. The sculptor is Veryl Goodnight.
Off to the left side of the pioneer woman is a boot. There are several boots in the Plaza, each decorated differently. They convey a great western touch of public art. I showed you another boot at the entrance to the plaza earlier.
This is another at the entrance. That is the Plains Hotel in the background. It was built in 1911. It has a stained glass solar system on the lobby ceiling. It received a new owner in February 2016 who plans to give the hotel some "sizzle" and retain its contributions to the area's culture.
Across the street form the Plaza and the Iron Horse is The Albany. It has been serving Cheyenne for 75 years. The building was originally constructed around 1900, and went through several owners until 1942 when a family bought it, running it as a family business since.
I took this photo to give you a sample of the architecture preserved in the historic town. The center building hosts the Wyoming Home. It was established in 1998 and exists with the idea of providing a Western Lifestyle for everyone who has a passion for it.
Another stately building, this is the Freedom's Edge Tap House and Brewing Company. It is located in the old Tivoli Building, a three-story Victorian building built in 1892. Its design incorporates several elements typical of Queen Anne architecture, including an oriel window, an octagonal ornamented turret, and use of foliated stone, as well as some Chateauesque and Romanesque Revival architectural elements. The hipped roof of the building and the roof of the turret were both covered with pressed metal sheets. In October 1892 a local newspaper described the new building as "palatial", with interior fixtures "as fine as can be seen in any city west of Chicago". The Tivoli Building was designed for use as an eating and drinking establishment it.
The Nagle Warren Mansion Bed and Breakfast. In 1888, entrepreneur Erasmus Nagle built the stone Nagle Warren Mansion B&B as a show place, at a time when Cheyenne was the wealthiest city of its size in the world. It became the home of Senator Francis E. Warren in 1910 who entertained the likes of Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and William Taft. The owners invite you to "Live the life of a Cattle Baron."
This home is in the Rainsford Historic District. Constructed between 1885 and the 1930s, the Rainsford neighborhood was named for George Rainsford, an eastern architect who came west to try his hand at horse ranching in the 1870s and eventually designed homes for his contemporaries in Cheyenne. This area was once preferred by Cheyenne Cattle Barons. The Rainsford District is an excellent expression of upper and upper middle class housing popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
This is a view down Capital Street from the Capitol to the Depot Museum. This is a marvelous town.