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Cheyenne, Wyoming (U.S.)

Last modified: 2007-07-21 by rick wyatt
Keywords: cheyenne | wyoming | buffalo |
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[Flag of Cheyenne, Wyoming] image by Ivan Sarajcic, 21 June 2007

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"Cheyenne is the capital of Wyoming, a state of the United States of America. It is the principal city of the 'Cheyenne, Wyoming Metropolitan Statistical Area' which encompasses all of Laramie County, Wyoming. As of September 2005, it had an estimated population of 55,362. It is the county seat of Laramie County and the largest city in Wyoming.

On July 4, 1867, General Grenville Dodge with his survey crew platted the site now known as Cheyenne (Dakota Territory, later Wyoming Territory). There were many from a hundred miles around who felt the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad through the area would bring them prosperity. So, by the time the first track was built into Cheyenne four months later (November 13), over four thousand people had migrated into the new city. Because it sprang up like magic, it became known as "Magic City, Queen of the Plains".

Those who stayed and did not leave with the westward construction of the railroad were joined by gamblers, saloon owners, thieves, opportunists, prostitutes, displaced cowboys, miners, transient railroad gangs, proper business men, soldiers from "Camp Cheyenne", later named Fort D.A. Russell (now F.E. Warren Air Force Base), and men from Camp Carlin, a supply camp for all the northern army posts on the frontier.

The city was named by Grenville Dodge for the Native American Cheyenne nation ("Shay-an-nah"), one of the most famous and prominent Great Plains tribes, closely allied with the Arapaho. The Cheyenne were among the fiercest fighters on the plains. Not pleased with the changes brought about by the railroad, they had harassed both railroad surveyors and construction crews.

As the capital of the Wyoming Territory, and the only city of any consequence, as well as being the seat of the stockyards where cattle were loaded on the Union Pacific Railroad, the city's Cheyenne Club was the natural meeting place for the organization of the large well-capitalized ranches, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. (See Johnson County War of 1892, the largest of the "range wars" of early Wyoming history). The newspaper offices of Asa Shinn Mercer's Northwestern Livestock Journal were burned down when the paper, which was founded as a public relations vehicle for the moneyed cattle interests, began to write scathing accounts of the events that were unfolding on the open range. His account is told in his book The Banditti of the Plains, still unavailable in Wyoming.

As a town created by the railroad, Cheyenne fittingly preserves one of the eight surviving Union Pacific Big Boy locomotives ("4004"), some of the largest steam locomotives ever built, designed for hauling freight over the Rocky Mountains at high speeds. These engines typically hauled 100 freight cars up ruling grades between Cheyenne and Ogden, Utah, at 50 miles per hour. The locomotive now resides in a city park."
Valentin Poposki, 19 June 2007