Wyoming Day Trip

Some times we take what we call a “day trip.” We just pack a lunch, some snacks, and bottled water to last the day. We usually don’t go much more than an hour drive from the RV. Last Thursday we took a day trip to southeast Wyoming.

Our first stop was Cheyenne which is the capital of Wyoming and most populous city in the state. Because it lies in Laramie County in the southeast corner of the state, it is one of the few state capitals in the country that is not centrally located.

In July of 1867, General Grenville M. Dodge and his survey crew plotted out the site now known as Cheyenne in the Dakota Territory (later the Wyoming Territory). This site was chosen as the point at which the Union Pacific Railroad would cross Crow Creek. The city was named for one of the most famous and prominent Great Plains tribes, the American Indian Cheyenne tribe.

The Union Pacific Railroad brought hopes of prosperity to the region. It played a monumental part in the rapid growth of the city.

Our first stop in Cheyenne was the Cheyenne Depot Museum. Cheyenne was to be a division point before the tracks and trains would head up the Sherman Pass, the highest point on the transcontinental rail line. The Cheyenne Depot building was completed in 1887 with the addition of the clock in 1890. We learned a lot in this museum!

Next we went to the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne which was founded in 1895. It exhibits, interprets, and tells the story of the history of Wyoming in its ten galleries. Here is just a few photos.

Our second stop on this day trip was the town of Laramie, Wyoming. If you are a cowboy fan like my husband, you probably watched the television show from the early 1960s called Laramie. Although the show was not filmed in the town of Laramie, the town has a commemorative plaque to the show. Several of the actors from the show have visited the town throughout the years. The most recent visit was last year and the actors that came autographed a large number of commemorative posters. We got one for free!

Laramie was founded in the mid-1860s as a tent city near the Overland Stage Line route. The Union Pacific portion of the first transcontinental railroad reached Laramie on May 4, 1868, along with a few passengers, and regular passenger service began six days later. By then more permanent structures were being built.

Here’s something interesting: The first legislature of Wyoming Territory passed a bill granting equal political rights to women in 1869. In March 1870, five Laramie residents became the first women in the world to serve on a jury. Laramie was the first town in Wyoming to hold a municipal election. On September 6, 1870, a Laramie resident was the first woman in the United States to cast a legal vote in a general election. There is a monument to these events at the Ivinson Mansion.

While in Laramie, we visited the Ivinson Mansion. The Victorian-style house was built in 1892 by Jane and Edward Ivinson with 11,726 square feet of living space. It normally is open for guided tours, but COVID has closed it down. I would have thoroughly enjoyed seeing the inside. We did walk around outside and took pictures.

Next we visited the Wyoming Territorial Prison. It is a former federal government prison built in 1872 near Laramie. It is one of the oldest buildings in Wyoming. It operated as a federal penitentiary from 1872 to 1890, and as a state prison from 1890 to 1901. It was then transferred to the University of Wyoming until 1989.

It was opened to the public in 1991, and designated as the Wyoming Territorial Prison Historic Site in 2004. It was amazing to walk through reading about different prisoners housed there. If you look at the photos carefully you will find a very famous prisoner that was housed there. A movie was eventually made about him.

Our tickets to enter the prison each had a short biography of one of the prisoners that stayed there. Mine was Pearl Smith. Jack was E. W. Smith. We found E.W.’s picture in the prison. They both look like some pretty rough characters, don’t they?

So, for now ….. “On the Road Again!”