Cheyenne Was Once The Richest City In The World
Have you ever heard that Wyoming's Capitol City was once the richest city in America? it was not only the richest in the U.S. It was briefly, the richest city in the world.
At its birth in 1867 Cheyenne was not the capitol of any state, it was a military camp and railroad town. In August of 1867, it became official with the charter for the city, and H.M. Hook was elected the first mayor. When the Union Pacific line reached the area on Nov. 13, 1867, it was boomtown time.
By the end of 1867, Cheyenne had over 300 businesses and a diverse population.
But, it was not a Little House on the Prairie life at first. In Cheyenne, the saloon and the cemetery were the most important places in town. In an attempt at order, churches in town backed an ordinance that closed saloons for four hours on Sundays, and there were rules that required visitors to check their guns. In those early days, law enforcement often fell to vigilantes.
A degree of peace returned to the city when railroad construction moved on to Sherman Pass. By then land lots in Cheyenne were selling for over $2,500, and in the 1870s Cheyenne grew into a prosperous ranching hub.
The wealthy cattlemen created the Cheyenne Club. They worked to make policy that influenced Wyoming's laws and dine and mingle in luxury.
When the Black Hills goldfields were opened in 1875, Cheyenne became home to merchants selling people the provisions and supplies to chase gold riches. The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage was formed to take people to and from the Black Hills.
From railroad boomtown, to cattle capitol, then a gold mining connection, Cheyenne had grown prosperous by the time the city entered the1880s. In fact, by 1882, it's said that Cheyenne was the wealthiest city per capita in the world with eight of the city's 3000 people being millionaires. Most of the riches came from the cattle business.
It was a short-lived time of wealth for Cheyenne though. The blizzard of 1886-87 destroyed much of the cattle-barons' stock and many millionaires lost everything.