Historic Photos

From Wyoming Tales and Trails

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The impact of the Railroad can hardly be understated. Owen Wister's The Virginian, Horseman of the Plains is set in the period from the mid 1870's to 1890. Twelve years later, in 1902, in his dedication of the novel to his friend and classmate, Theodore Roosevelt, Wister lamented:

Had you left New York or San Francisco at ten o'clock this morning, by noon the day after to-morrow you could step out at Cheyenne. There you would stand at the heart of the world that is the subject of my picture, yet you would look around you in vain for the reality. It is a vanished world. No journeys, save those which memory can take, will bring you to it now. The mountains are there, far and shining, and the sunlight, and the infinite earth, and the air that seems forever the true fountain of youth, but where is the buffalo, and the wild antelope, and where the horseman with his pasturing thousands? So like its old self does the sage-brush seem when revisited, that you wait for the horseman to appear.

But he will never come again. He rides in his historic yesterday. You will no more see him gallop out of the unchanging silence than you will see Columbus on the unchanging sea come sailing from Palos with his caravels.

Presaging by ten years the comments of Wister above, were the observations of Julian Ralph (1853-1903) in an article in Harper's New Monthly, June 1893, "Wyoming--Another Pennsylvania":

The State has a population of only about 65,000, and only one town that is well known all over the country. That, of course, is Cheyenne, long the headquarters of the stockmen of the West, and once a very wild and wide-open city. It is not easy now to see where it stowed its wickedness as one walks its tree-lined streets bordered by pretty homes and trod by a sober and self-respecting population. Cheyenne has 12,000 population, strong banks, good schools, notable churches some large and enterprising mercantile establishments, a fine park, and a great State capital. The town languishes. Not that the people regret the loss of the dance- houses and gambling lay-outs, but because the vim has gone out of business. The range cattle industry is failing, and the railroads have opened up other centres where mining and agriculture are the chief interests. But Cheyenne is like Wyoming itself, in a transition state, and its future is far more glorious than the noisy, profligate, and unnatural past.

Julian Ralph was in the late 19th Century a well known travel writer and reporter, achieving attention for his coverage of the Henry Ward Beecher trial, writing for the New York Sun, the New York Herald and the Brooklyn Eagle. He achieved his greatest fame, however, as a war correspondent in the Boer War for the London Daily Mail covering Lord Roberts' raising of the flag over Pretoria.

At the time of the above images, Cheyenne had 7 churches, Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Congregational, Episcopal, Methodist and African Methodist. The three-story building in the center of the close-up view is the Inter-Ocean Hotel, owned by Barney Ford, discussed on next page. The site is now occupied by the Hynd's Building on the corner of 16th and Capitol. Other hotels in the City included the Railroad Hotel, Dyer's Hotel, the Metropolitan, the Western Hotel, Key City House and the Leighton House. A block further up "Hill" Street from the Inter-Ocean is the next three-story building, the Opera House. The Cheyenne Club was located on East 17th Street. The Club, in its fittings, was worthy of many a "Gentlemen's Club" any place within the British Empire to which some of its members owed allegience. Its membership included some of the owners of the largest ranches in the State and, rightly or wrongly, it has been alleged that the plans for the Johnson County War were formulated within its precincts.

Cheyenne Photos continued on next page.