Cheyenne in Laramie County, Wyoming — The American West (Mountains)
Cheyenne's Heritage at a Glance
Those First to Life Here
There is evidence of prehistoric man living in Wyoming more than 12,000 years ago before present (YBP). These early individuals were not permanent residents of any one location but rather get followed the herds of migrating animals tat gave them food, clothing, shelter, tools, and a means to survive. Often returning to the same sites to hunt of set up temporary camps, these individuals collected what they needed as they moved about carrying only the bare essentials from place to place.
The first Paleoindians were called Clovis Man and they are thought to have come into North America from Asia across the Bering Sea over the Siberian land bridge about 15,000 years ago. Clovis people were also called Mammoth Hunters because they hunted mammoth, mastodons, and large straight-horned bison. After living in Alaska for several thousand years they ultimately migrated south. One of the major migration routes was across central and southern Wyoming. The name for Clovis Man was derived from the first dated finding of a major hunting camp near Clovis, NM. Clovis Man hunted using spears thrown with the use of a short throwing device called an Atlatl. Flipping the Atlatl with the arm and
Folsom Man, 10,000 YBP, were direct decedents of the Clovis Man. Folsom Man refined living, working, and social conditions as well as tools and weapons. Folsom people were also referred to as Bison Hunters. The age of Folsom Man abruptly ended about 7,000 years ago with no known direct descendants in this area. Speculation for the cause listed to the disappearance of the prehistoric animals that he hunted and whose own disappearance was tied to the climate changes of the last Ice Age. Some may have migrated east and further south to Alabama and Florida. Folsom Man derives his name from the first
Prehistoric evidence of Folsom Man's passing include the Medicine Wheel in the Big Horn Mountains described by the Crow Indians as being made "before the light came by people who had no iron." Another major sign of their migration is found southwest of Lusk in an area covering 400 square miles where there are the remains of prehistoric stone quarries known as the "Spanish Diggings." Folsom Man mined quartzite, jasper and agate to make weapons and tools.
Between the time of Folsom Man and the Historic Indians a group of mixed hunters and gathers (sic) lived in the area from about 3,000 years ago and up until about 1,200 A.D. Historic Indians in Wyoming were the nomadic tribes known as the Plains Indians many of whom were displaced from eastern regions of North America as settlers encroached on their native territory.
The Early Residents
Wyoming has been the home of many different tribes of Native Americans. Before 1700, roving bands of Shoshone and Utes from the Great Basin area began moving into the western parts of Wyoming, attracted by large herds of game and open space of the high plains. In the north, Crows roamed the mountains and plains. By the eighteenth century, increasing pressure fro eastern tribes and white settlements in the Mid-west forced many tribes to migrate west in search of more space and game. The Sioux and Cheyenne were forced from Minnesota, and move into the Dakotas and eastern Wyoming.
The Cheyenne has been farmers and small-game hunters in the Great Lakes region, living in earthen lodges. As they were forced father onto the plains, they acquired horses and became more nomadic, following the buffalo herds. Through their reliance on the horse, the Cheyenne became skilled horsemen and fierce warriors. the horse provided the with the means to relocated their villages and possessions and pursue the buffalo herds across the high plains. The Cheyenne and their allies, the Arapaho, ultimately settled in southeastern Wyoming and eastern Colorado in the area between the North Platte and Arkansas Rivers along the front range of the Rocky Mountains.
As the white settlements moved west, tensions and conflicts with the Indians increased. In
When gold was discovered in Montana in 1863, the Bozeman Trail along the east slope of the Big Horn Mountains emerged. This trail pushed more immigrants through the traditional hunting grounds of the Sioux and Cheyenne, and the conflicts which arose saw many Native Americans, emigrants and soldiers killed. The army built several forts along the trail to protect travelers, but hostilities continued to increase. In 1868, a new treaty was signed in which the Army agreed to abandon the forts and withdraw from the Bozeman Trail.
Despite a number of treaties attempting to resolve the problems with the various Indian tribes, conflicts continued to increase especially as the Union Pacific Railroad pushed farther west. Following the progress of the railroad came thousands of immigrants who settled in southeastern Wyoming. These railroad workers and
By the spring of 1877, the hostile Sioux and Northern Cheyenne tribes has been moved out of Wyoming and onto reservations in Montana, The Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes were restricted to the Wind River Reservation near Lander. The Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes from Colorado were moved to reservations in Oklahoma.
The Early Years
In the yet to be tamed West, the 1860's was a period of curious excitement over the coming of the Transcontinental Railroad. Finding a route over the continental divide was a major effort, and several different routes were considered before finally deciding in 1866 on a route along Crow Creek. This was the route found in 1865 by General Greenville M. Dodge, Chief Engineers for the Union Pacific Railroad. General Dodge also discovered a natural grade extending down the eastern slope of the Laramie Mountains, later known as the Gangplank. The route for the railroad
The Pacific Railway Act of 1862 provided for land grants to the Union Pacific Railroad in order to subsidize the cost of constructing the railroad. The original grant amounted to 10 sections of public land for each mile laid, but was later changed to 20 sections. Once the route was selected and the land was deeded to the railroad. General Dodge began surveying a town site four miles square with blocks, streets, and alleys. General Dodge named this new town Cheyenne after the Indians that were native to the area. Within days of being officially approved, the first lot was sold and a small wood frame house was built on the corner of 16th Street and Ferguson (now Carey) Avenue.
In the beginning, Cheyenne belonged to a breed of American towns along the westward movement of the railroad. Most of these tows were tent towns, and often called "Hell on Wheels." Within weeks of becoming ab official town, a provisional city government was established even though many people still worked in tents and slept under wagons. By the time trains reached Cheyenne in 1867, the town's population quickly rose to 6,000 people.
The 1870's was a decade of uncertainty in Cheyenne and Wyoming. The railroad progressed father west, and the railroad-related growth activity grew. Conflicts with the Indians again developed and thousands of people crossed the treaty lands and headed for the Black Hills gold rush in 1876. The gold rush was a boon for Cheyenne because it stimulated such activities as the Cheyenne to Deadwood Stage Line, increased military and civilian freight traffic to all of the forts and towns within a 400 mile radius, and the development of banking activity. The flurry of economic growth extended well into the next decade due in large part to the rapid rise in the cattle industry on the high plains of Wyoming.
With the creation of the independent Wyoming Territory i 1869, Cheyenne became the seat of the territorial government. Although it would not be admitted as a State until 1890, Wyoming went to work on a State Capitol began in 1887. The territorial government was not a large organization and many of its parts were located in other Wyoming towns; nevertheless, government employees became an important piece of the developing City of Cheyenne. Located in one of the original five counties of Wyoming, Cheyenne was also a county seat. Politicians and lawmakers, whether natives to Wyoming or new immigrants to the area, added to the growing population ad the expansion of the city. Many of the city's early residents and politicians went on to hold high-ranking positions sin both the State and Federal government.
The Early Years (continued)
By 1880 Cheyenne was referred to as The Magic City on the Plains, It developed rapidly from a rowdy railroad and cattle town into the wealthiest per capita town in the U.S. In addition to the large Texas cattle companies that herded their livestock to Cheyenne's railhead or on through to Montana, there were also many large Wyoming cattle companies whose owners had their headquarters and home within the city.
The Cattle Barons, as they came to be called, played a key role in the next decade of development of Cheyenne. They invested in the city and its future by building elegant mansions for their families and prominent business structures within the downtown area. Many came to Cheyenne from the east or were of foreign origins, and the brought with them a desire to continue their cultural pursuits, an appreciation of fine architecture, and a sense of elegance even on the prairie.
By the 1880's Cheyenne had developed both economically and industrially and boasted of providing electricity, a water distribution system, telephone service, street maintenance, public transportation, ad police and fire protection for its businesses and citizens. By 1884 the population of Cheyenne had grown to 7,000 souls. The Union Pacific Railroad remained a major economic force, and in 188601887 the railroad constructed a new depot in downtown Cheyenne. It was added onto in the 1920's. Now it is no longer a working train depot; yet this magnificent building remains today as a cornerstone of the downtown area.
The severe winter of 1886-1887 was devastating to both the Wyoming cattle industry and Cheyenne. Because of the catastrophic cattle losses major changes were enacted which dealt with the use of public lands and cattle grazing practices. The Cattle Barons sustained large financial losses, and with grim future prospects for large profits, many left Cheyenne, their homes, their businesses and their ranches. Those ranchers that stayed became the future leaders in the Wyoming Livestock Grower's Association and the Cattleman's Association. Another blow to the cattle industry was the fact that by 1890 the need to drive cattle north to the existing railheads has also ended as new branch rail lines had been completed to Oklahoma and Texas.
While many of the earliest commercial and residential buildings that once graced downtown Cheyenne are gone, some of the city's elegant old homes and businesses can still be seen today in the Downtown, Capitol North and Rainsford National Historic Districts of Cheyenne. A few of the historic buildings that are now gone are presented below. Some of the business structures were destroyed by fires and some were just neglected over the years and were finally torn down to make room for new structures and businesses. Some of the larger homes were initially converted to businesses, apartments, or other uses by eventually were also torn down for redevelopment.
From Frontier Town to Modern City
The severe winter of 1886-1887 wreaked havoc in the cattle industry and the financial panic of 1893 combined to severely curtail economic development of both the railroad and the City. The City would remain relatively economically depressed until World War I. These major events caused the city to change from Frontier Town to Modern City even though it would keep its Cowboy tradition to this day through the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo celebration. The first Frontier Days Rodeo celebrating held at the Cheyenne Fairgrounds was in 1897.
With Wyoming's Statehood in 1890 the complexion of Cheyenne also changed to that of being a State Capitol. The Capitol building was completed in 1887 but it was the seat of government coming to Cheyenne along with a large civil workforce and payroll which helped spur business growth. The first State Governor's Mansion was built in 1904 for a cost of $33,253.29.
Although the City boasted electricity, water service, telephones, street maintenance, public transportation, police and fire protection starting in the late 1880s, the first full-time salaried firemen did not arrive on the scene until 1909. The Bush-Swan Electric Company provided limited lighting to 30 downtown buildings and some street lights starting in 1883 but it was not until 1900 and the creation of Cheyenne, Light, Fuel and Power Company and the construction of the steam-generating plant that steam heat as well as electricity were provided to all downtown businesses. From 1888 the Cheyenne Street Railroad Company provided three 30-passenger horse-drawn street cars until they were replaced in 1908 by an Electric Railway. By 1911 the five-story Plains Hotel was first hotel west of the Mississippi river to have been constructed with telephone lines run to every room.
Unfortunately much of the development in the downtown area occurred only when one of the older buildings was burned down, torn down or converted to another use. In 1916 the famous Inter-Ocean Hotel burned and was replaced in 1919 by the Henry P. Hynds Building a modern five-story office complex. In 1911 the Burlington & Quincy and Southern & Colorado Railroad Lines combined and converted the Warren Mercantile Company building (1887) into their downtown depot. This building would later be torn down in 1927 and replaced with a more modern Spanish-Style depot and bus station (also now gone).
Transportation was the focus of much attention from the end of the 1890s through the turn of the century as people began to have more recreational time. Early roads, that were little more than trails, were often improved by "Good Roads Clubs.", that devoted their time to removing rocks, filling ruts and repairing bridges. The nation's first Transcontinental Highway, the Lincoln Memorial Highway, went through Cheyenne and with increasing numbers of the traveling public who encouraged the building of new hotels and motor lodges. Other travel-related businesses that supplied automobiles and parts; fuels, tires, and lubricants; and traveler comfort services such as cafes also flourished. Better roads and highways also encouraged people to venture farther from home and into the mountains and parks. Tourism soon became an important part of Cheyenne's economy and destiny.
With the advent of air travel, the first airplane visited Wyoming in 1911 when a plane from Denver flew to Gillette for a Forth of July celebration. By September of 1920, Cheyenne became one of 14 stops in the new Transcontinental Airmail Service and by 1925 was home to a major air terminal with four hangers. In 1927 the Boeing Air Transport Company began carrying mail and passengers with regular service to Chicago and California.
The Recent Past
Cheyenne is proud to boast that in 1924 on of its residents; Nellie Taylor Ross was elected as the first woman Governor in the U.S. Her home can be seen at 902 E. 17th Street. State government continued to play a key role in the development and stability of Cheyenne and in the 1930's the State Supreme Court and State Library building was built. In the 1950's the State Museum was completed. The four block area were these buildings stand was previously Cheyenne City Park and sit on land originally donated to the city by the Union Pacific Railroad.
During the 1920's, Cheyenne continued to see an increase in tourism and automobile travel as existing roads were improved and new roads developed. Cheyenne has a free campground by 1922, offering police protection, electric lights, hot and cold water and other amenities. The following year the campground set aside an area with the best facilities and began charging tourists fifty cents a night. Cottage camps soon began to appear catering to the tourists who did not want to sleep in tents and carry their own camping equipment. Following World War I, Wyoming received surplus road-building equipment from the federal government and funds for new roads came mainly from oil royalties and a gasoline tax. By 1937, tourists were increasingly traveling with trailers, and communities were competing to keep the tourists in town for an extra night or two.
Air travel and services also continued to increase, and in 2934 United Air Lines built an aircraft maintenance and overhaul facility in Cheyenne. In 1941 United also created a pilot training and flight attendant school in the city. During World War II, Boeing used the airport facilities as a completion and modification center for its B-17 aircraft. After the war, most of the facilities on the north side of the airport were turned over to the Wyoming National Guard, and the former Boeing Headquarters building became the city's Airport Administration Building.
Rail travel continued to increase during 1920-1940, and in 1923 the Union Pacific added an east wing to its depot to provide restaurant service to both its passengers and the citizens of the city. By the early 1950's, however, busses had become popular, and passenger train travel was on the decline.
The Depression and drought years of the 1920's and 30's caused a dramatic slow-down in the Cheyenne economy; however, the start of World War II brought Cheyenne and the rest of the country out of the Depression and created an increase in economic activity. Cheyenne's Fort D.A. Russell was renamed Fort F.E. Warren in 1929 and was converted into a Quartermaster training facility. During the early war years, more than 20,000 men were stationed regularly at the Fort. Following the war, the Fort became a redeployment center for the Quartermaster and Transportation Corps. Fort Warren was again renamed F.E. Warren Air Force Base in 1949 and has continued to make a significant impact on Cheyenne both socially and economically.
Post war growth of the city is most apparent in the neighborhood referred to as The Avenues between 1st and 8th Avenues and located just to the north of the original city as laid out by General Dodge. The city also grew to the east past Holliday Park. With the growing prosperity of the post war years, the city once again doubled in size.
Erected by City of Cheyenne.
Location. 41° 7.951′ N, 104° 49.005′ W. Marker is in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in Laramie County. Marker is at the intersection of Carey Avenue and West Lincolnway (U.S. 30), on the right when traveling south on Carey Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1600 Carey Avenue, Cheyenne WY 82001, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The First Transcontinental Highway (a few steps from this marker); The Tivoli Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Tom Horn (within shouting distance of this marker); Suffrage Tablet (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Trolleys / Cheyenne's Street Railway (about 500 feet away); 1974 Downtown National Historic District (about 500 feet away); The Cheyenne Opera House and Territorial Library (about 500 feet away); The Union Pacific Railroad (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cheyenne.
Categories. • Anthropology • Industry & Commerce • Native Americans • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page was last revised on August 3, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 1, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 309 times since then and 26 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on August 1, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.