Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024
Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Tale of Two Cities, Part 1 - Thurs., June 15, 2017

I've been dragging my feet about writing this blog. Not because my feet are sore and tired, but metaphorically because this blog will be about two cities' downtowns, and I'd rather be out in nature.

Today, we are doing two state capital walks: Cheyenne (a cowboy town), and Denver (a bustling metropolis). After checking out of our swanky apartments at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, we make our way into downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming.  

The Capital Volksmarch starts at The Wrangler store downtown, near the historic railroad station. Susan M. had done her pre-planning. The Wrangler store where we were to pick up our directions didn't open until 9:00 a.m., so she arranged with a gentleman from the Cheyenne club to pick up the directions last night at his house. 

Downtown Cheyenne has two-hour free parking and it usually takes us two hours to do a 10k Volksmarch. We figured the van would be okay parked there. 

We started our walk at 7:50 a.m. While Susan and Darren were gearing up, I went across the street to take photos from Cheyenne Depot Plaza. The plaza had historic markers so I took a couple of minutes to read them.

Cheyenne was originally established in 1867, though much of the town was destroyed by fires over the years. It wasn't until the late 1800s that masonry buildings were introduced. Most of the Downtown District of Cheyenne was built between 1872 and 1920. 

Cheyenne was a "tent town," established with the westward expansion of the Transcontinental Railroad. These early railroad towns were also known as "Hell on Wheels." This tiny, frontier "tent town" soon became the Seat of Territorial Government, and eventually grew up and became the State Capitol. The town grew rapidly to over 4,000 by the time the last railroad nail was spiked down here. Eastern newspapers described Cheyenne as the "Magic City of the Plains" because the town sprang up like magic.

As a major railhead for the cattle industry from its founding, the town was a second home for English and European Cattle Barons. By 1885, Cheyenne was considered "the richest city in the world per capita."

The architectural style of the historic district is described as eclectic with a heavy emphasis on commercial Victorian. 
Cheyenne's historic district
The Wrangler western store where we started
Union Pacific Depot
Due to the influence of the Cattle Barons, the railroad built one of the finest depots in America in Cheyenne. It had Richardsonian styling and two colors of sandstone from the same quarry, a rarity. The "tunnel" through the Depot is a portico, originally intended only for carriages of the rich. It's purpose was to keep Cattle Barons and their families out of bad weather when they needed to catch a train. (Information on the historic district is from Downtown Cheyenne's Historic Walking Tour booklet.)
Decorated boots for Cheyenne
Susan and Darren were already off and walking down the opposite block. Time to play catch up. The first few blocks were spent in the downtown historic area before we headed off into a neighborhood and park. 

1887 Atlas Theater Building
Tivoli Saloon and Brothel (1895)
Crazy mural
Jack-a-lopes in the window
Nagle-Warren Mansion (1888)
Of note near the Nagle-Warren Mansion is an art gallery with beautiful sculptures gracing the yard.

"Nature's Keeper," by Bobbie Carlyle
"Rapto-Round Standing Proud," by Chuck Weaver
$42,000.00 (human not included)
"Gotcha," by Bobbie Carlyle
Whipple Mansion
Once again, we had a picture-perfect day. The temperature, however, was quite warm for an early-morning walk, about 84 degrees.

Cute bunny in a front yard
Next, our route took us through and around Holliday Park. The painted boot in the park memorializes Outlaws of Wyoming.

Cheyenne Art Guild behind boot

Holliday Park, Lake Minehaha, Cheyenne, Wyoming
In the photo below is one of 25 Big Boy steam engines built exclusively for Union Pacific Railroad by American Locomotive Company between 1941 and 1944. Each locomotive was 132' long and weighed 1.2 million pounds. Because of their great length, the frames of the Big Boys were "hinged" or articulated to allow them to navigate curves. Cheyenne's  4004 is one of eight remaining Big Boys on display throughout the country. (In Amarillo, Texas, we will see another one.)

Darren in front of #4004, big boy steam engine
We hustled along through neighborhoods, a cemetery, and more neighborhoods before we finally made it to the state capitol. The building is huge and beautiful; however, it is completely closed for a major renovation for at least the next three years. Guess we won't be touring the interior of this one. (We don't have time today, anyway.)
Cheyenne, Wyoming, State Capitol
Cheyenne Capitol Dome
Capitol front entrance

Poet Robert Burns
Our next stop was a small triangle park rich in history markers:
  • Buffalo Soldiers
  • 1st Lieutenant Vernon J. Baker: the last of nine WW II African Americans to win the Congressional Medal of Honor
  • The Military 1867-1890: Cheyenne Depot - Camp Carlin
  • The Military 1867-1949: Fort David A. Russell - Fort Francis E. Warren
  • The Military 1949 - Present: Francis E. Warren Air Force Base  
1st Lieutenant Vernon J. Baker -
"Buffalo Soldier," by Chris Navarro
When we finished reading all the signs in the park, we realized we were still quite far from where the car was parked. Our two-hour parking limit was running out quickly. We quickly walked back to the start point, took our books into The Wrangler store to stamp our credit for the walk, and then headed the van south to Denver. 

To be continued in part 2...

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