The Union Pacific Railroad / The Union Pacific Railroad

The Union Pacific Railroad / The Union Pacific Railroad (HMVR5)

Location: Cheyenne, WY 82001 Laramie County
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Country: United States of America
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N 41° 7.943', W 104° 48.892'

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Part 1 (1867 - 1890) / Part 2 (1869 - 1890)

Part i
The story of the Union Pacific Railroad is also a story of Wyoming and particularly Cheyenne. One cannot be told without the telling of the other. It is no exaggeration to say that Cheyenne, Fort D.A. Russell (now F.E. Warren Air Force Base), and the Wyoming Territory were all children of the Union Pacific (UP).

In 1863, the Pacific Railroad Act was approved by Congress and signed into law by then President Abraham Lincoln, an enthusiastic supporter of railroads. Congress had finally decided on a route following the Platte River Valley and two railroad companies were chartered. The Union Pacific (UP) would lay track westward from Omaha, while the Central Pacific (CP) would lay track eastward from Sacramento and they would meet someplace in between. Nearly 1800 miles separated these two points. A contest quickly developed to see which company could lay the most track the fastest. Land grants to the Railroads were a major incentive as they were based on miles of track laid. not until late 1865, however, did workers lay the first rail in Omaha for there had been a shortage of money, materials and men due to the U.S. Civil War.

The westward advance of the Transcontinental Railroad brought UP Chief engineer General Grenville M. Dodge and a survey party to this area in the summer of 1867 for the purpose of locating a base or "division point" for the railroad. After thoroughly investigating the area, Dodge decided to locate the point at the site of the proposed crossing of Crow Creek. The name "Cheyenne" was selected by the survey party members and was in honor of a fierce Indian tribe of the area. Dodge intended Cheyenne to be one of the most important railroad cities in North America. Massive railroad shops and facilities would be built later to maintain the railroad's equipment.

dodge himself conducted the survey of the town and many of its Avenues were named for ranking UP officials or Army officers that he knew. Some of those downtown Avenues have since been renamed. One important reason that Dodge located the UP division point at present-day Cheyenne is that this is where the gradual slope of the prairie meets the steepening grades of the Laramie Mountains )presently known as the Black Hills). The geographic feature known as "the gangplank" allowed for a reasonable crossing of the mountains at Sherman Pass, named for Civil War General Sherman

Part 2
History was made on May 10, 1869 at Promontory Summit, Utah, when the Union Pacific's Engine 119 and the Central Pacific's Jupiter met on the tracks. UP and CP officials drove golden and silver spikes into the rails thus ceremoniously joining the East and West at last! By May 15, 1869, five days after the joining of the rails in the Utah desert, the nation's first transcontinental railroad announced the beginning of regular passenger service. In 1849 it took 166 days to go from coast to coast by wagon train. With the new transcontinental railroad, the journey took but 10.

The completion of the transcontinental railroad began a new era in American history, one of rapid settlement and the development of agriculture, mining and industry in the West. At 20 sections of land for every mile of track laid, the UP with 1,086 miles had been given nearly 22,000 Sections or approximately 14 million acres of land. Land was important in the development and growth of Cheyenne and the surrounding area as large Cattle Barons were to come to this area seeking their fortune. They in turn would build a modern City on the plains where only a clapboard railroad town had stood just a few years before. Many local ranchers and large cattle companies would acquire their own land grants by buying out the smaller settlers; however, others would get their land directly from UP.

The Railroad would also profit from the long Texas cattle drives which brought cattle up through Colorado to be loaded on trains in Wyoming for shipment back east to slaughter houses and final distribution. Even though track would eventually find its way into the Dakotas, Kansas, and eventually Texas itself; the UP mainline would grow and prosper in Cheyenne and Wyoming.

HM NumberHMVR5
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 5th, 2014 at 3:01pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)13T E 515538 N 4553469
Decimal Degrees41.13238333, -104.81486667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 41° 7.943', W 104° 48.892'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds41° 7' 56.58" N, 104° 48' 53.52" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)307, 712
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1511-1545 Capitol Ave, Cheyenne WY 82001, US
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