The railroad remains a constant mover of life and goods to keep the connections between east and west United States. Sure, aircraft can move people and goods faster, but think about the train – the volume of goods moved, support to towns and communities, the direct connection of those on the ground. The railroad continues to develop and maintain a unique way of life, particularly out west.
The clanging, rattling of the tracks, engines roaring, rails
came alive in May 1868, the historic day when a train whistle marked the
arrival of the first train in Laramie, Wyoming, on the newest section of the
Union Pacific Railroad.
Builders kept at the task and inched along, achieving
milestones little by little. The west was being explored, although with hardship,
and there would be success.
There is a remarkable difference from the trains and
railroad operations of years past to the modern trains of today. There remains still a little bit of the old
western feel though. Thankfully, the
Laramie Railroad Depot helps preserve the past.
In 1924 the Laramie depot was built to replace the town’s original Union Pacific Depot and Hotel that was destroyed by fire in 1917. The depot served as Laramie’s Union Pacific passenger depot until 1971, and as an Amtrak depot until 1983. In 1985, the Union Pacific Railroad gave the Depot to the Laramie Plains Museum, which then transferred ownership to the Laramie Railroad Depot Association in 2009.
“The Depot is the only remaining building left from the once
large Union Pacific presence in Laramie and was added to the National Register
of Historic Places in 1988. The railroad is the reason for the city’s original
existence, and the Depot is an important part of Laramie’s historic legacy.” More
history is located at https://www.laramiedepot.org/history.
I enjoyed standing on the railroad walkway watching the trains move along, thinking of the history, and wondering what people from 1868 would say about these trains today.
To me, there is something special about street art and murals that depict a local history or emphasis. Yes, there are unsightly presentations plastered on many walls, doors and wherever, but the artists who deliberately paint history and visual messages deserve special recognition.
I wondered about the artists of the various murals on buildings throughout downtown Laramie, Wyoming, during our brief stay there. We wandered the streets looking for the art, and ran out of time to locate all of them.
According to the Laramie Mural Project, http://www.laramiemuralproject.org/, the Laramie, Wyoming, mural project uses local artists to create one-of-a-kind, large-scale murals in the heart of downtown that reflect Laramie’s cultural life.
How do you prepare for travel? Sure, we pack the right clothes, determine the route, lodging, fuel and other important factors that make the trip successful. Did you check for weather?
During my recent trip to the Midwest states of the U.S., I thought more in-depth about the weather. During the first half of 2019 the U.S. has encountered numerous wildfires, floods and tornadic systems.
I’m from the southeastern U.S. and we have these events as well, including hurricanes; however, I have not encountered the tornado types and flash floods that arise in the western side of the country.
We heard of the floods through Mississippi, Arkansas and Kansas,
Iowa, Missouri and throughout the region.
I kept aware while traveling through these areas, mostly by checking the
respective state’s 511 system, WAZE and local radio stations. The primary highways were open, but some
secondary roads were listed as closed.
One of the state roads we needed to take in Arkansas was closed
and there were no signs of a detour. The
GPS took us down some back roads, including a dirt road, and we finally ended
up on the other side of the road damage.
I was questioning where the GPS was right though because it has diverted
me at times for no reason.
There was a stretch of more than 50 miles where all exits were closed. Imagine the impact to the farm community as well as the businesses that couldn’t receive customers.
We saw many areas where water had been over the Interstate itself, and it still was not receding quickly. There were also signs of damage to farm equipment and property. At times I could not tell where a lake was because of the flooded plains. It looked like continuous lakes.
One of the major concerns I had was the possibility of encountering
a major tornado that we hear about on the news many times. These Midwest systems are much larger than
ones in coastal areas. I kept a keen
watch for cloud formations and kept the radio on when I saw suspicious clouds
and kept aware of potential areas to take cover in event a tornado formed
Just look at these clouds as we arrived in Laramie, Wyoming. I didn’t let my guard down and made sure my phone was on during the night in case an alarm was sent out.
There aren’t many places to shelter when one is driving in the
open terrain. That’s where radio
information is invaluable and can tell us the direction of the system. It’s also good to know your directions
too. Do you have a compass?
I had already decided if I was stuck in the open terrain and had no place to shelter, I would stop somewhere with a ravine, ditch or depression in the ground to minimize flying debris. I also brought extra rain gear and coats to cover up while lying in a low area if needed. Of course, you always have to consider the potential for flash flooding in these areas as well.
Remember! Highway overpasses are NOT tornado shelters and should be avoided. They can create high winds funneling through that can bring debris and/or sweep you away.
It was interesting that tornados hit some of the areas just before and after our visits. For instance, a tornado (I think EF-3) traveled just north of Laramie a couple of days ago. https://laramielive.com/tags/tornado/
I compared the clouds we saw to the clouds in these tornadic systems. They looked the same to me, except our clouds apparently lacked strong wind circulation.
So, when you travel – don’t forget to check weather and know the
conditions in the area that could lead to dangerous weather.
Don’t do like the example of storm chasers in this video clip as they chased the tornado near Laramie. Safe travels.
The high plains of southeastern Wyoming are now inviting to those with quick means of transportation, as compared to more than 100 years ago, although they had dreams and desires to start a new life, regardless of how long it took them.
Just envision the slow, cumbersome wagons and laboring livestock meandering their way to places unknown as the western U.S. was being formed. Let’s take a quick glance at Laramie, Wyoming.
I’m glad we were able to travel the area in June. Here are some tidbits I collected for the post.
Laramie today is a town of nearly 31,000 people. It is near the Medicine Bow Mountains and recreational parks. It is home to the University of Wyoming.
Laramie is also the historic place where a woman first cast a vote in a general election. Some of the street art depicts pioneer women making significant milestones toward individual freedom.
In the early days, American Indians scattered the area during hunting season as they looked for large wildlife to sustain their livelihood.
Laramie is another example too of the influence from those outside
the United States who made lasting impacts toward societal growth.
A French-Canadian trapper
named Jacques La Ramee, sometimes spelled La Ramie, arrived in the area about
1817, and is thought to have explored the area around the Laramie River in what
is now Wyoming.
Euro-American settlement commenced in
1862 with the arrival of Ben Holladay’s Overland Stage line.
The impending arrival of the Union Pacific Railroad on the Laramie Plains was assured when company surveyor James Evans laid out the general course of the line in 1864. The 1866 construction of Fort Sanders basically ensured settlement would continue in the area.