Old Cheyenne

Posted on Friday, October 14th, 2011 in Stories


-Giant boot outside of the Union Pacific Depot, Cheyenne, Wyomin

Long before the arrival of the Lincoln Highway, nation’s first transcontinental road, Cheyenne, Wyoming, was a good place for railroad workers to winter over while the tracks were being laid in the post-Civil War years. By 1867, the army had established a fort to protect the railroaders from Indians, and once the trains were rolling, the town quickly became a haven for Union Pacific sojourners. All manner of folks arrived in Cheyenne—gamblers, soiled doves, whiskey peddlers, cattlemen, outlaws, and every imaginable opportunist.

These days, both locals and visitors enjoy the Downtown Historic District, highlighted by the Union Pacific Depot, one block south of Lincolnway on Capitol Avenue. Build of multicolored sandstone blocks in 1886 the depot was beautifully restored to its original grandeur in 2004, two years before being listed on The National Register of Historic Places. The old depot, with its Romanesque clock tower, looks straight up Capitol Avenue and faces off with the state Capitol building with its twenty-four-carat gold-leaf dome.

Near the Union Pacific Depot, on the corner of Lincolnway and Capitol, just across from the historic Plains Hotel, is the Wrangler Building, originally named the Phoenix Block when it went up in 1882. The Wrangler—the Western-wear business for which the old building is named—is considered by many the best store around for cowboy apparel. Since 1943, both real and wannabe cowboys and cowgirls have showed up at the Wrangler to buy shirts, jeans, boots, and belt buckles the size of saucers. Business spikes just before Cheyenne Frontier Days, an annual event since 1897 and the world’s largest and oldest outdoor rodeo. Known as “The Daddy of ‘em All,” the big celebration is staged every July at Frontier Park.