Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- September 28, 2016

We've been focusing on trains this month, but there's another part of train travel beside the locomotives -- depots.

Cheyenne's original train depots were simple wooden structures, nothing to excite passengers, but that changed in 1886 when the Union Pacific began construction of what was to become the most magnificent depot west of Omaha.

Built in what is called the Richardsonian Romanesque style, it features two colors of sandstone from quarries in Colorado.  The actual construction of what is now a National Historic Landmark had its share of difficulties, including a labor strike, but when it was completed, the building vied with the capitol for the distinction of being the most beautiful building in the city.

I had so much fun, incorporating a real place and real events in my very fictional story, "The Depot Bride," which is part of the Rails to Love Romance Collection.  (Yes, this is shameless self-promotion.  Rails to Love has an official release date of October 1 and will be available in both print and ebook format.  You can find more details on my web page

When passenger trains were discontinued on the route through Cheyenne, the Union Pacific donated the depot to the city.  (Remember what I said about the Union Pacific being an important part of Cheyenne?  This is another example of the relationship between the railroad and the city.)

The building has been renovated and now houses offices and a museum.  As if that weren't enough, the plaza in front of the depot is the site of everything from farmers' markets to summer concerts.

Come visit it!  It's worth the trip.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- September 21, 2016

Last week I shared pictures of Old Sadie with you.  Today's featured train is also located in one of Cheyenne's parks.  Like Old Sadie, this is another Union Pacific locomotive, but that's where the similarities end.

This one, nicknamed Big Boy, is one of the world's largest steam engines.  At 132 feet long, it's almost twice as long as Old Sadie and weighs more than a million pounds.  Can you imagine how difficult it must have been to maneuver a locomotive that big? The engineers anticipated the problem and hinged the frame.

Only twenty-five Big Boys were built, with even fewer still in existence.  This one, #4004, is now located in Cheyenne's Holliday Park.  Come see it!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- September 14, 2016

If you read last week's blog, you know that Cheyenne was founded when the Union Pacific was part of the  race to complete the transcontinental railroad following the Civil War.  Even today, more than 150 years later, the UP is an important part of the city.

Two of Cheyenne's major parks feature UP locomotives.  This one, #1242, is located in Lions Park near the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens.  Nicknamed Old Sadie, #1242 is the oldest coal burning steam locomotive in the state.  Are you impressed?  I was.

Old Sadie was in active use until 1954.  After her retirement, the UP donated her to Cheyenne, and she's been a tourist attraction ever since.  See what I mean about the UP's role in the capitol city?

If you're ever in Cheyenne, I encourage you to visit both Old Sadie and the Botanic Gardens.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- September 7, 2016

Trains!  You'll see them all across Wyoming and for a good reason:  the railroad was responsible for the settlement of many of Wyoming's cities.  Cheyenne, Laramie, Rawlins, and Rock Springs, to list a few, owe their existence to the Union Pacific and the development of the transcontinental railroad.

But the UP's east-west rails aren't the only train tracks in Wyoming.  Others travel north-south, stopping at -- among other places -- Douglas.

If you're in the mood to learn more about trains, Douglas now houses the Railroad Interpretive Center where you can view and tour a variety of train cars.

 And, as if that weren't enough, you can enjoy sightings of the jackalope, the mythical creature that calls Douglas its home.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 31, 2016

We've reached the end of the month and the end of our Rawlins Mural Tour.  What better way to finish the tour than with the largest grouping of art -- six pictures of the same subject, a wild stallion named Desert Dust.

While many of the murals were painted directly on the building, these are not, but are, as you can see, framed oil paintings.

I have to admit that I was saddened to learn that Desert Dust was eventually captured in 1945.  However, as the tour brochure assures us, wild horses can still be seen in the Red Desert west of Rawlins.

The Old West is still alive!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 24, 2016

Have you ever heard of Cattle Kate?  One of the more controversial characters in Carbon County history, she was lynched in 1889 for alleged cattle rustling.  But did she do it?  Historians believe she did not.

If you're interested in learning more about her, here's a link:

Not only was Cattle Kate a controversial person, but this portrait of her in the Rawlins Mural Tour created its own controversy, in part because of the style the artist used.

What do you think?  Do you like the mural?  And, if you read the story, do you believe Kate deserved to be hanged?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 17, 2016

Although most of the pictures in the Rawlins Mural Tour are outside, five pieces hang in the lobby of one of the city's banks.  All five, which are referred to as the Scoggin Collection, since they were painted by artist Bill Scoggin, feature the life of a cowboy.

And,  yes, that's the vault door you see in the lower left corner -- proof that the art is inside a bank.