The first steam-powered locomotive reached Cheyenne on November 14, 1867
By 1868 the community boasted 3,000 to 4,000 residents, plus business, schools, churches and newspapers. The UP's stone roundhouse was the first permanent structure (non-wood) built in town. The City's phenomenal growth produced its nickname, "The Magic City of the Plains," as it seemingly developed by magic. Wyoming became a new territory less than nine months later, when President Andrew Johnson signed the Wyoming Organic Act on July 25, 1868. Of course, Cheyenne was its Territorial Capital. Most of the land for the new Wyoming Territory came from the Dakota Territory, but Utah and Idaho Territories also contributed land.
When the railroad came to Cheyenne, the Army also came and established Fort D.A. Russell in order to protect the UP's workers. The threat of Indian attacks was real then as Southeastern Wyoming was the traditional hunting grounds of the Sioux and the Cheyenne, and they were outraged at the encroachment of the Iron Horse and all that came with it. As the UP construction crews reached the summit of the Laramie Mountains to build Sherman Station, the news traveled around the world. Congratulations poured
The UP faced its greatest natural obstacle about three miles west of Sherman. Over geologic time, Dale Creek had cut an almost perpendicular gorge measuring about 150 feet deep and 650 feet across. In 1867-1868, workers built a wooden trestle across the chasm. The Dale Creek Trestle was the highest and most dangerous crossing on the UP line, and the highest railway bridge in the world at the time.
Construction took 2,580 ties, 352 rails, 5,500 spikes, 704 fishplates, and 1,408 bolts to complete one mile of track. Multiply this by 1,800 to understand the enormity of it all. Simply put, the building of the Transcontinental Railroad was America's most ambitious enterprise and greatest engineering achievement of the post Civil War 19th century.
By 1869 Cheyenne had its first permanent depot, a two-story Railroad Hotel; however, that hotel burned and was replaced in 1872 by the small depot and separate hotel you see here, only to have it too burn in 1886. The small depot and hotel would not be replaced but instead UP would make good on its earlier promise to Cheyenne to build the "grandest depot" west of the Mississippi River.
Begun in 1886, the new grand depot was completed in 1888 (although the clock had not yet been established by 1889).
In January 1889, then UP President Charles Adams also announced that the central repair shops for the entire UP System would be located in Cheyenne. This would be very important to Cheyenne because over 3,000 people would live here and work for the Railroad. The era of Steam Trains would last through the mid 1950's; but Cheyenne remains home to the UP Steam Train Fleet to this day.
UP's story does not end here as the Railroad would be a prominent player in Wyoming's Statehood soon to follow (July 10, 1890) and the future of Cheyenne.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Railroads & Streetcars • Settlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #17 Andrew Johnson series list. A significant historical month for this entry is January 1889.
Location. 41° 7.944′ N, 104° 48.887′ W. Marker is in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in Laramie County. Marker is on Capitol Avenue just south of Lincolnway, on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Cheyenne WY 82001, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on September 15, 2011, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 842 times since then and 48 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on September 15, 2011, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.