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EXPLORING MORE OF CHEYENNE

A Visit to the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum

sunny 84 °F

Good Morning;

Wyoming's State Capitol economy is supported in no small measure by the F.E.Warren Air Base. The facility is home to a US Air Force Wing (1,000 airmen) and a Wyoming Air National Guard Squadron whose secondary mission is fighting forest fires with their C-130 aircraft. The mission of the Wing is to maintain a missile readiness for its 150 ICBM rockets housed in silos throughout Wyoming and neighboring states.
The military base has a long history. It was established in 1867 (along with scores of others) to protect homesteaders traveling along the Oregon Trail in addition to, the railroad crews as they were constructing the Transcontinental Railroad. These cavalry troops fought belligerent Indians and helped bring law and order to the then lawless wilderness land.
After WWII the base was transfered from the US Army to the US Air Force. Interesting side-note: General John J. 'Black Jack' Pershing, General of the Armies, during WWI was stationed here as a Captain early in his career. Ironically, after marrying Wyoming's US Senator F.E. Warren's daughter he was quickly promoted to Brigadier General and the rest is history.

Today is Sunday and venues do not open until noon so I spent a portion of the morning doing my laundry here at the campground. My afternoon goal was to visit the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum, which I did. Located adjacent to a beautiful city park and near the fairgrounds grandstand it is a museum of note. Not knowing what to expect I found a large brick structure with bronze statues of bucking bronchos and bulls displayed outside the entrance. Billed as the "Grand Daddy of Rodeos' the Cheyenne event dates back to 1897. In those days the one day event was conceived to allow local cowboys to compete in activities they did on a daily basis around their respective ranches. Things like; roping calves for branding, breaking wild bucking horses, driving horse-drawn wagons. These events grew in number and were/are timed to determine the winners. It all proved so popular that it grew into a 'county fair' atmosphere. As time passed the annual July activities extended into a carnival week, and now it draws 200,000 people to the community. The Union Pacific Railroad puts together a special passenger train to bring fans from Denver to Cheyenne. Last year there were 22 cars filled with passengers.
The big prize among the competitors is in the Chuck Wagon Race. A number of chuck wagon competitors with four-horse hitches attached to their chuck wagons race around the one-mile track in front of 18,000 cheering fans in the grandstands for (today's) grand prize of $50,000.

The museum has a collection of memorabilia from past Frontier Days. Things like costumes, video clips of champion performances of broncho-busting, bull riding, calf roping, chuck wagon racing, and a large collection of horse-drawn carriages, wagons, etc. Displayed were the 'lesser' prizes, also, meaning rewards other than the Chuck Wagon cash. Prizes like, exquisite hand-tooled leather saddles with silver trim (worth thousands of dollars) along with hand-tooled leather and silver horse bridles, Sterling silver engraved boot spurs, & fancy western boots. Photos of Grand Champions in their respective events were featured. Today, there exists a circuit in which these cowboys & cowgirls compete.

Amusingly, Cheyenne bills this event as the 'World's Largest Outdoor Rodeo'. I Googled the Calvary Stampede to learn that their 10 day event draws 1.4 million visitors to Calgary, Canada each year. Maybe Cheyenne's claim is the largest 'state-held' event whereas Calgary's is a national event? Only speculation.

Posted by dixter 06:44 Archived in USA Tagged museum west old visit

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