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A Return to the Depot Museum then to the State Museum

sunny 82 °F

Good Day!

As mentioned before, Cheyenne is an easy city to navigate with my GPS. Yesterday, while walking the street from the parking garage I came upon a historical plaque telling of the 'Lincoln Highway'. In the 1920's highways for automobiles had just come into their own having been previously nothing more than horse & wagon paths. There lacked a system of marking the throughfares and the road conditions were deplorable. The federal gov't devised a plan for a national east/west highway to be built from Trenton, NJ to Sacremento, CA. Completed in 1925 and paving finished in 1928, much of it paralleled the Union Pacific/Central Pacific Intercontinental rail line. Today, the route runs through downtown Cheyenne on a street named 'Lincolnway'. Upon completion of the first coast-to-coast highway in 1928 the Boy Scouts of America were tasked to set 3,000 concrete road markers imbedded with Lincoln-head medallions giving road directions to automobile travelers on this new national Lincoln Highway. Interstate highway 1-80 follows this same route. Interesting.

Yesterday's visit to the Depot Museum only encompassed the 1st Floor exhibits. It was so fascinating that I wanted to see the rest on Floor #2.
In railroading 'time was money'. The same holds true today with freight trucking, air freight commerce & rail freight. Yesterday's railroad trains raced across the Great Plains in record times until coming upon the Laramie Mountains (Black Hills) where the elevation rose from 2,802' in North Platte, NE to 6,060' in Cheyenne to 8,014' at Sherman Hill (a distance of 250 miles) just east of the Continental Divide. From there it was 'all downhill' to the Pacific coast. Multiple engines were required to pull these heavy freight cars over the hump at tremendous cost to the railroad. As time progressed larger and larger engines were built to challenge this situation. In the late 1930's with war in Europe looming the Lend Lease Act was passed allowing US industry to produce war materials for our British allies. In 1941, after Japan's attack, the gov't through Union Pacific ordered 25 giant locomotives to be built. These were delivered in two groups; One for delivery in 1942 and the second in 1944. These locomotives, the largest railroad steam engines in the world, could pull freight over Sherman Hill at speeds of 80 mph! Previous speeds with multiple engines were as slow as 5 mph!
These new engines weighed one million, two hundred eight thousand, 750 pounds (1,208,750#) each and were called "Big Boys". At an overall length of 132' and tender capacity of 28 tons of coal and 25,000 gallons of water they are a sight to see. One is displayed in a city park in Cheyenne. Last summer while traveling in MN we saw another on display in Twin Harbors, MN. That one was used to pull up to 400 hopper-car trains loaded with iron ore from the mines at Mesabi Range 80 miles to the loading tressels at Twin Harbors. The record for loading of ships at that terminal was 271 ore ships loaded in 48 hours! The demand for steel during the war was phenominal. Both locomotive applications helped win the war by their tremendous strength in pulling materials for 'The Arsenal of Democracy. More on today's visit in tomorrow's blog.

Posted by dixter 18:46 Archived in USA Tagged in day two cheyenne

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