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About Cheyenne

Cheyenne Facts & History

On July 4,1867 the first tents were pitched on the site now known as Cheyenne. Cheyenne means "aliens" or "people of foreign language". The Sioux Indians gave this name to the Indian tribe "Dzitsistes", who roamed the open plains. Their spelling was Shyenne. The first residents were men who moved west to work on the Union Pacific Railroad. The majority of settlers moved away when the railroad was completed in November of that same year. Those who stayed joined others who came to form this new thriving western town. By 1869 Cheyenne was home to a variety of residents, including railroad gangs, soldiers from Fort D.A. Russell (which is now F.E. Warren Air Force Base), and employees From Camp Carlin, a supply camp for all the northern posts on the Indian frontier.

This mostly rough population gave entrance to the type of entertainment that became associated with the "Wild West". Cheyenne was a lively place with five "variety" theaters in operation simultaneously. Every other building was a saloon. The shows had regular stages and gave what was called "burlesque" performances with plenty of female performers.

Cheyenne did not remain a rowdy town for long, as the railroad that initiated Cheyenne's beginnings continued to play a major role in its development. The Union Pacific, one of the most heavily traversed railroads, passed through Cheyenne bringing some of the best shows of the times. After the opera house was erected in 1882, performers such as Lily Langtry and Emma Nevada and their troupes stopped in Cheyenne on their way to San Francisco.

The railroad also provided direct access to the East, thereby enabling Cheyenne to receive the latest styles in furniture, the most recently published magazines and newspapers, and the most fashionable apparel from eastern salons. The cultural ideals of the East were virtually transplanted to Cheyenne via the railroad. By 1875 the population had grown to almost five thousand. Residents enjoyed a social life which was unique for the West and on a par with many cities of a similar size in the East. In fact, Cheyenne's culture far surpassed many of the eastern cities.

The cattle industry was another influencing factor in Cheyenne's development. Purebred Hereford cattle were raised at the famous Wyoming Hereford Ranch (near Cheyenne) as early as 1880. The town attracted many wealthy men from the East and Europe, bringing with them their impeccable social amenities. Many were graduates of the most outstanding universities in England and America. Many cattle barons spent their summers in Cheyenne, wintering in Europe. It was during this time that the world famous "Cheyenne Club" was established. It's membership included many of these men. The club was lavishly furnished like a club of its scale in England. It had a wide verandah, large dining room, billiards room, card rooms, reading room, and a lounge on the main floor. The former Cheyenne Club stood on the site that later housed the Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce, located on east 17th street.


The World’s Largest Outdoor Rodeo and Steam Locomotive, the State Capitol and Western Shopping Mecca – Cheyenne Offers an Array of Attractions

1) Cheyenne Frontier Days

Known as "The Daddy of 'em All"™, Cheyenne Frontier Days is the world's largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration. Started in 1897, this year's festivities will take place July 22 - 31 and features 10 days of the world's best PRCA rodeo action - from bull riding and barrel racing to steer wrestling and team roping. A variety of Western entertainment is also a trademark of Cheyenne Frontier Days, Including nightly concerts, chuckwagon cookoff, parades, carnival midway, a pancake breakfast and more.

2) Bit-O-Wyo Ranch

One-of-a-kind Western entertainment awaits young and old alike at the Bit-O-Wyo Ranch during the summer months. Daily offerings include scenic one to three hour trail rides escorted by the ranch’s experienced wranglers. Friday and Saturday evenings bring a Horse Barn Cowboy Dinner Show and Dance featuring the Bit-O-Wyo Blue Water Cowboy Band and the Bit-O-Wyo Horses. In addition to the Friday and Saturday shows, additional shows are scheduled during the week for private events, and those are sometimes open to the public as well.

3) Cheyenne Depot/Depot Museum

The Cheyenne Depot, formerly known as the Union Pacific Depot, was built from 1886 to 1887. Acknowledged as one of the most beautiful railroad stations in North America, it is one of the last of the grand 19th century depots remaining on the transcontinental railroad and a major historical structure in the Rocky Mountain area.

The Cheyenne Depot today is home to a visitor center, restaurant and the Cheyenne Depot Museum. The museum exhibits and interactive displays showcase the history and romance of the railroad.

4) Terry Bison Ranch

Terry Bison Ranch consists of nearly 30,000 acres of rolling hills and lush grasslands and more than 2,300 grazing bison. A motorized bison tour allows visitors to get right in the middle of the herd. Other features include the Sunday lunch train, horseback riding, Kid Corral, old time photo studio, fishing and a Trading Post. The ranch is also home to The Senator’s Restaurant and Brass Buffalo Saloon, a full-service old-West restaurant and saloon open May through September. With so much to do, travelers can spend the day or stay overnight, as the ranch has cabins, bunkhouse rooms and 86 full hook-up RV sites.

5) Western Shopping

Cheyenne may be known as the nation’s “rodeo and railroad capitol,” but it could easily add the title of “Western shopping capitol.” When visiting Cheyenne, visitors can’t help but get into the spirit of the West with the city’s many Western-wear stores. Need new boots, a riding shirt or hat? There’s Boot Barn, All-Around Western Superstore, The Wrangler and Just Dandy to name a few of the Western-wear options. Visitors wanting to incorporate a touch of the West into their homes can swing by Wyoming Home and All Wild & Western, which feature Western and Wyoming-themed home furnishings.

6) Big Boy Steam Engine

Even in retirement, Old Number 4004 remains an imposing sight. Visitors can see Big Boy, the world’s largest steam locomotive, year-round in Holliday Park. Big Boy is one of eight such remaining locomotives on display in the United States. Its coal-fired engine was designed to pull a 3,600-ton train over steep grades between Cheyenne and Ogden, Utah.

7) Nelson Museum of the West

The Nelson Museum of the West is dedicated to the preservation of fine cowboy and Native American objects, as well as fine Western art. Rodeo, cowboy and Native American objects comprise the largest part of the museum’s collection of more than 3,700 artifacts. The museum’s military display features the wares of officers and enlisted calvarymen from the Indian War, Spanish War, American War and World War I and World War II. This 18,000-squre-foot museum is designed to house more than 20 exhibits, both temporary and permanent, in 18,000 square feet of space.

8) Wyoming State Capitol/State Museum

A National Historic Landmark, the Wyoming State Capitol Building has been, and still is, a dominant structure in the Cheyenne skyline. Historically, it is one of the most important buildings in the state (its cornerstone was laid in 1887). The Wyoming State Museum houses artifacts and collections showcasing Wyoming’s history. The kids’ room features vintage clothing, toys and interesting artifacts. The gift shop includes souvenirs and an extensive collection of Wyoming books.

9) Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley

For a fully narrated historic tour of Cheyenne, jump on board the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley. The trolley operates from May through the end of September. Ghost tours are offered in October and Christmas Lights tours in December.

10) Cheyenne Botanic Gardens

Cheyenne Botanic Gardens is an oasis on the high plains featuring nine acres of landscapes, gardens and plant collections. Many of the gardens feature perennials, annuals, wildflowers, roses, herbs and cacti. Some specialty areas include a nationally-recognized inspirational Peace Garden, as well as the Discovery Pond and educational wetland area. Located in Lions Park, Cheyenne’s premier park, children can explore the solar-powered conservatory and exterior gardens. New to the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens in the The Paul Smith Children's Village. The Children's Village showcases and interprets sustainable systems for food production and preparation, water quality, energy production, habitation, and cultural fulfillment. Cheyenne Botanic Gardens is the Intermountain West’s oldest and one of the largest public demonstration sites for sustainable, renewable energy. It is also the home of Engine 1242, the oldest train engine in Wyoming. Cheyenne Botanic Gardens is open year-round and is free to the public. Bring a picnic lunch or plan to attend an event, such as a concert or a play while there.


For more information on Cheyenne, contact the Visit Cheyenne, the Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 426-5009 or visit its comprehensive Website located at
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