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Transportation

The Rock Springs Massacre

On September 2, 1885, long-simmering tensions between white and Chinese coal miners in Rock Springs, Wyo. boiled over into a massacre in which whites murdered 28 Chinese, wounded 15 more, and looted and burned all 79 shacks and houses in Rock Springs’ Chinatown. Though the remaining Chinese miners wanted desperately to leave Wyoming, the Union Pacific Railroad, which owned the mines, refused to grant them railroad passes or the back pay owed them. The Chinese finally had no choice but to return to work, which kept wages low and the coal flowing from the mines.

Industry, Politics and Power: the Union Pacific in Wyoming

The construction of the Union Pacific in 1868 gave rise to the towns, geography of settlement and the economy of new Wyoming Territory in 1869. Obstacles to construction were both physical and financial, and the railroad overcame them with sometimes slapdash results—hastily laid track and rickety bridges, watered stock and Congressional corruption. But the Union Pacific contributed enormously to Wyoming’s growth and development, made its modern economy possible and continues today as an economic power in the state.

A Kid in Hell on Wheels: Laramie as the Railroad Arrived

Billy Owen never saw a railroad until he was eight years old. His mother had told him about railroads. But in his mind as he traveled east by wagon train across Wyoming in the spring of 1868, he had imagined railroad wheels that looked something like wagon wheels. They rolled in grooves. Each groove was made by two rails. That meant it took four rails, as he imagined it, to make a track.

Independence Rock

People have been leaving carvings and images on Independence Rock in central Wyoming since prehistoric times. When Father De Smet visited in 1841, so many names had already been carved, painted or smeared on the landmark in buffalo grease and gunpowder that he named it the “Great Register of the Desert.” The rock may have been the best-known spot on the emigrant trails, and it remains an enduring symbol of Wyoming's contribution to our nation's heritage and highest ideals.

President Theodore Roosevelt's 1903 Visit to Wyoming

In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt included Wyoming in his 25-state tour of the western United States. He spent nearly three weeks in Yellowstone National Park, gave a speech in Newcastle, and on the return leg from California, left the train long enough for a well-publicized horseback ride from Laramie to Cheyenne, and two extra days politicking and socializing in Wyoming’s capital.

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Encyclopedia | The amazing sight of Ayres Natural Bridge, a natural limestone arch across La Prele Creek near Douglas, Wyo., inspired numerous Oregon Trail emigrants to comment in their diaries. California-bound Cephas Arms on July 4, 1849, described it as “one of the wildest scenes I ever beheld.”
Encyclopedia | About 70 miles northwest of Fort Laramie, the Oregon Trail crossed La Prele Creek, flowing north from the Laramie Range toward the North Platte River a few miles away. On a high bluff above the creek mouth the U.S. Army in 1867 would build Fort Fetterman, which became an important supply base in the wars with the Cheyenne and Lakota Sioux in the following decade.
Encyclopedia | At Red Buttes, west of present Casper, Wyo., Oregon Trail travelers left the North Platte River and started for the Sweetwater and the Continental Divide. Long a boundary marker for tribes, the spot quickly became well known to emigrants for its beauty and for marking a new stage of the journey.
Encyclopedia | Three-year-old Ada Magill of Kansas, died of dysentery in 1864 on the Oregon Trail west of present Glenrock, Wyo. The Magills were bound for Oregon. In 1912, road surveyor L. C. Bishop moved the grave to a site nearby, where it is now marked by the Oregon-California Trails Association.
Encyclopedia | When pilots on United Airlines Flight 409 took a shortcut in bad weather en route from Denver to Salt Lake City in October 1955, the plane crashed into Medicine Bow Peak and 66 people died. It was the worst airline disaster up to that time, and its cause is still unknown.
Encyclopedia | Frederick Fulkerson, 17, died in 1847 on the Oregon Trail after becoming exhausted and ill from swimming his family’s livestock across the North Platte River near present Casper, Wyo. His grave, located on state land near Devil’s Gate, is one of the oldest identified graves along the trail. 
Encyclopedia | When a party of Lakota Sioux raiders attacked a small wagon train of Shoshone, white and mixed-race people in 1868, eight-months-pregnant Woman Dress Lamoreaux stopped the skirmish when she climbed from a wagon and threatened the attackers with drastic consequences from her brother, Gall—their war chief—if they continued the fight.
Encyclopedia | From the high-wheel bicycles of the 1880s through the one-gear racers of the 1890s and tandems of the nineteen-aughts, bicycling grew increasingly popular in Wyoming, with active clubs, long-distance races, bicycle socials and even a Cowboy Bicycle Race at Cheyenne Frontier Days.

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