Freight, mail and stagecoach passengers endured the rough, dangerous road from Rawlins on the Union Pacific through Lander to the Shoshone reservation for 27 years. “God bless the old stage line; she is doomed,” one postmaster wrote in 1906, when a railroad first reached Lander, “but it beat walking.”
union pacific railroad
union pacific railroad
It began with a bowl of mush and ended in the murders of two men—one shot through the heart, the other dragged from the jail and lynched by a vicious mob of 300 to 400 people. Afterward, no one would testify to who was in the mob.
Wyoming’s coal mining industry was secure until the early 1950s, when the Union Pacific switched to diesel-powered locomotives. Laid-off miners and their families struggled; little company towns disappeared. Eventually, trona mining expanded and replaced many of the coal jobs—and in the 1970s, coal came roaring back.
From April to November 1868, two ex-Confederate brothers, Legh and Fred Freeman, published the strident, anti-Reconstruction Frontier Index, moving their offices ahead of the still-building Union Pacific Railroad. Rioters finally destroyed the newspaper’s office and presses in Bear River City, putting the paper out of business.
Mountaineer Finis Mitchell shared his love of the Wind River Range through postcards, public talks and a famed, hip-pocket hiking guide. He ran a fishing camp, worked on the railroad, stocked mountain lakes with fingerling trout and served in the Wyoming House of Representatives. Mitchell Peak was named in his honor.
In the 1860s, the Eastern Shoshone people signed two treaties with the U.S. government. The first set aside vast holdings for them. Just five years later, as the transcontinental railroad was approaching, a second treaty established a Shoshone reservation in the Wind River valley—with less than a tenth the earlier amount of land.
Laramie, Wyo., was founded in 1868 with the arrival of the Union Pacific Railroad and won early fame as the place where women first voted and served on juries. It’snow known for its nationally ranked university and proximity to the Medicine Bow Mountains.
Union Pacific locomotives still rumble through Cheyenne, as they first did 150 years ago. But after the railroad arrived in November 1867, skeptics questioned whether the town would last, as so many other end-of-tracks communities had died once the graders and tracklayers moved on.