Famous Landmarks in Cheyenne – Our Top Five
Cheyenne is a city where you have to try to avoid historic landmarks. That said, we decided to compile the top five for you.
We could have gone out of our way to point out obscure landmarks but decided it would be best to shine a little light on the ones you’re likely to go see.
So here is some information about five historical haunts in Cheyenne, along with some information you may not find elsewhere.
1. The Wyoming Capitol
200 W. 24th St. (24th & Capitol)
Why the capitol’s legal address is on 24th Street, instead of Capitol Avenue, strikes me as a classic “duh” moment. (I imagine it’s because there is no 2400 or 2500-block of Capitol Ave. but it still strikes me as nonsense.)
I worked in the building for a time and can attest that it’s beautiful. A restoration in the 1970’s restored much of the original feel of the building, including gorgeous wood trim and marble flooring.
The capitol is on the National Register of Historic places, too, which makes sense. Construction on the core of the building began in 1887 — originally, it was a much smaller building. Look at the photo above and imagine the two wings removed: that’s all that was there originally. Only three years later, the first two wings were added, what you see in the photo above. By 1917 the building was feeling quite cramped and the House and Senate chambers were brought on.
The initial building was completed for a hair under $140,000 ($3.4m in 2010 dollars), which must have been a screaming deal, as the 1970’s renovations cost $7.6m ($33.2m today)! Those expansions were necessary because for a long while most of the state government was housed in the building. Today, the apparatus of government has swelled considerably and various state agencies are housed in buildings around Cheyenne with many elsewhere (especially in Casper).
Today the Governor, Secretary of State, Auditor and Treasurer have their offices in the building. The only statewide elected official who doesn’t get a Capitol Building address is the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
You can just walk in and see most of the building and tours are available. Unfortunately, the rotunda is closed to public access.
(Many thanks to Administration and Information and their landing page here, for refreshing my memory on some of the dates and dollar figures.)
2. Union pacific depot
121 W. 15th St. (15th & Capitol Ave.)
Just down the road from the capitol building is another historic Cheyenne landmark: the Union Pacific Depot. As passenger service to Cheyenne ended in 1971, the depot has been renovated into a pub (Shadows), meeting facility and tourist destination par excellence. The museum is a must visit, for the Cheyenne visitor and resident alike.
Built in 1886, the most recent renovations wrapped up in 2002. The building is now overseen by a non-profit group, after UP donated the building to the country and city of Cheyenne rather than tear it down for disuse.
For more information, check out the Depot Museum’s website.
3. Cheyenne Frontier Days
Frontier Park — Carey Ave. at Eighth Ave.
While it might not be the first thing that comes to mind, neither does it take a lot of thought to realize how wrapped in history the annual Daddy of ’em All is. The word rodeo is itself Spanish (check out Wikipedia’s excellent page on rodeo) and translates to “round up.” The sport has been progressing for centuries.
While other states (and the Canadian province of Alberta) also claim rodeo as their state-sport, only Wyoming uses the iconic bucking horse and cowboy as it’s official logo and only Cheyenne hosts Cheyenne Frontier Days, the largest outdoor rodeo — period. The celebration (originally just “Frontier Celebration,” as seen in the 1910 photo above) brings thousands to Cheyenne every July.
Each rodeo event is a historic event and Frontier Park certainly qualifies as a landmark in the West. While non-cowboys (and cowgirls) might not be able to figure it, the events are distillations of specific skills needed on the ranch. Much of these events are similar to the first Frontier Celebration held 114 years ago.
4. Historic Governors’ Mansion
300 E. 21st St. — 21st St. at House Ave.
There are two homes constructed for governors in Cheyenne: the currently used Governor’s Residence (Central Ave. at Walker Rd.) is where Wyoming’s chief executive has stayed since 1976. And then there is the Historic Governors’ Mansion in the Cheyenne North neighborhood. Both the mansion itself and the neighborhood are on the National Register.
While the current residence isn’t often open to tours (save of the Christmas season), the historic residence is open most of the time — save during Frontier Days.
Various rooms in the mansion have been redecorated to represent periods of time throughout the history of the mansion’s service (a Wyoming chief executive first laid his head there in 1905). Today it is maintained as a state historic site and has a Facebook page.
The Plains Hotel
1600 Central Ave. — Central Ave. at Lincolnway
The Plains Hotel, shown here a year after it opened, is a Cheyenne landmark. Constructed when the state was young, it remains one of the neatest buildings in the state and beyond.
Situated at the corner of two of the busiest thoroughfares in Cheyenne, everyone has been past the Plains — probably in the last day or two! It’s rich history is apparent inside, even though it might appear to be a rather typical old brick building from its exterior.
The lobby is a two-story affair with stained glass skylights and intricate tile work abounding. Mahogany is all over the place.
Oh: and the rooms are quite nice, too!
The Plains was last renovated in 2002. While the lobby and ground floor retain much of their original charm, several businesses have also taken up shop in the common areas. The Plains has it’s own history page on its website.