Cheyenne - The RR Town

On the fourth of July in 1867, General Grenville Dodge set the spot for Wyoming’s first railroad terminal. Crow Creek was the spot. He named this spot Cheyenne after the Indian tribe in the area. It didn’t take long for a city to grow from the terminal.

Robert Strahorn, while preparing his Handbook, asked one of the first settlers of the city if he could point out the first house erected in Cheyenne. “The old settlers replied, “ well, one fine day, early in July, 1867, four or five hundred of us pitched our tents here, where there wasn’t a sign of civilization, and about half of us woke up at daylight the next morning to find that the other half were living in board shanties.” **
**From Velma Linford’s, Wyoming Frontier State.
1890 Train

Cheyenne, at the time, was constantly referred to as a creation of the Union Pacific Railroad. Within weeks a city blossomed. By the end of summer, more than 300 businesses were open in Cheyenne. By November when the first rails made it to town, 4,000 people were living there. A year later the population dropped to 1,500 but the town remained and grew, reaching a population 4,500 people by the early 1880s.

Fifty-nine railroads were incorporated in Wyoming between 1869 and 1900. Seems like we should have tracks running all over the state. Many of these railroads were only on paper and never able to raise the money to build any miles of track. But some track was getting built, a reported 290 miles in the first few years of twentieth century.
Train heading west

Fort Laramie, Fur Trade Days and the CCC

Anyone who follows my posts, and this is number 601, from all of my blogs, knows that I have two great interests in American history. They are the opening of the American west and the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s. Today I would like to make a mention of both.

First my book on the CCC, The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Building of Guernsey State Park, should be available next week. When I started this book I thought it would take six months. That was more than I wanted, but I felt it would be worth it. Well, next month will be month 23 of the six I planned. Yes, it was a bit harder than I expected. I will put a link up as soon as it goes live. If nothing else you can download the free sample.

Second, I have already marked my calendar for June, 20 at Fort Laramie. That weekend, June 21 is Father’s Day, and the annual, “Fur Trade Days.”
This features a nice trapper’s camp and talks and demonstrations by reenactors. Here are a few photos from last years, Fur Trade Days. Can’t wait!

Is That a Wagon in My Back Yard ?

My wife and I have had several discussions as to whether the Oregon or Mormon Trails passed through our back yard. Why, because we live only a quarter of a mile from the North Platte River.
Looking back at the North Platte River  from Deep Ruts Hill
The trails were not a path but an area of many paths. In some places in Wyoming, the trails are many miles wide from north to south. All of the wagons west did not follow in the ruts of others. Here in Guernsey, Wyoming there are ruts within a stone’s throw of the trail and some several miles away.
In  places, wagons cut the soft rock
Where the view of the river was lost often a deer or buffalo trial was followed. These trails, early on known as trapper trails, would eventually become the famous trails west. Wilson Price Hunt’s route west to Astoria became the approximate course of the Oregon Trail. But it was Robert Stuart’s path along the North Platte River that perfected the trail.

Flower lined game trail
The Oregon and Mormon trails became the greatest highways of American history expanding America to the Pacific Ocean. The Indians called it the Great Medicine Road of the whites. Yes, there were settlers in Oregon before the trail and thousands of people in California. But now there was a way for the common man to go west. And for the first time the Indian lands of the west became fair game for new settlement.  

150 Years Ago - Texas not Wyoming

150 years ago today the Civil War ended. Yes, I know, General Lee signed the papers of surrender at Appomattox Court House a month earlier. But the war, in isolated pockets, carried on until May 13, 150 years ago. The two-day Battle of Palmito Ranch, with the final casualty of the war, took place east of Brownsville, Texas ended the fighting of that terrible war. There were a few other tiny battles after this date but no more casualties, thus leaving the Battle of Palmito Ranch listed by historians as the official last battle of the war.

To end today, we need a bit of Wyoming stuff here. How about a couple of Wyoming photos I took today.

Wyoming Horse Country

Wyoming horses - no not wild, but fun to watch this time of year.

Bad Weather and Heading West on the Oregon Trail

Bad Weather and Heading West on the Oregon Trail

Spring snowstorms are not uncommon in Wyoming, but all of us seem surprised each time we get one.
Today in Guernsey State Park
We were so dry in March I was afraid that we would dry up by the middle of June – not now.
When pioneers headed west they had to very careful of the weather and spring storms. They weren’t this far, not yet.
Along the Trail about a half mile south of our house - before the snow
The early wagons would have reached Nebraska around this time of May. One of the crossings on the Oregon Trail in southeast Nebraska was the Little Blue River near present day Fairbury, Nebraska, and that river has been out of its banks for several days.
When I hear sportscasters talking about how courageous some athlete was for: hitting some shot, taking the big shot or scoring the winning points, I think about these people. Now they were courageous, these travelers of the trail, fighting the weather, often all the way west.
We are blessed to get all of this rain and snow this time of year. My part of Wyoming only receives about 12 inches of total moisture each year. So far in the month of May over 5 inches.
Nope, no golf for me today

Lovin’ it! 
Did a bit of sweeping on the truck before going for afternoon drive

Guernsey Dam

On May 4, 1925 the contract was accepted for the building of what would become Guernsey Dam.

And as us old historians like to say – the rest is history.
John C. Fremont called this river canyon the most beautiful he had every seen - no arguments, on that point, from park visitors today,