Will Braddock, in Eagle Talons, The Iron Horse Chronicles–Book One, experienced the Fourth of July in 1867 at the founding of the city of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Some historians hold the position that General Grenville M. Dodge, Chief Engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad, did not name the city. Since Dodge is the most central historical character in my trilogy about the building of the first transcontinental railroad, I chose to accept his claim from his memoirs that he did. Since he wrote that he named the city, and since he thought at the time he named the city, I give him credit.
The above photo shows how Cheyenne looked in 1867. Will Braddock, were he alive today, would recognize the location. The first UP train entered Cheyenne on November 13, 1867, a little more than four months after its founding. The city became one of the major Hell on Wheel towns at that time, and the population jumped from a handful of railroad workers to over 4,000 residents.
At the time of its founding, the site of Cheyenne lay within Dakota Territory. Wyoming would not become a state until the following year. Will Braddock learns about this historic event in Bear Claws, The Iron Horse Chronicles–Book Two. By mid-1868, Hell on Wheels had moved farther west, but Cheyenne continued to prosper. Dodge had selected the site to be the major rail facility for the UP before the tracks commenced the steep climb into the Rocky Mountains. Jenny McNabb would recognize the main street in the above photo as the one she rode down in Bear Claws on her way to visit her sister, Elspeth.
Happy 0ne-hundred forty-ninth birthday to Cheyenne. Next year it will probably put on quite a show during Frontier Days when it will celebrate the sesquicentennial of the city’s founding. In Eagle Talons, I describe the first Fourth of July in the city that became known as the “Magic City of the Plains.”