By 1895, the
Fremont, Elkton & Missouri Valley Railroad had extended from
Harrison, Nebraska along Niobrara Creek through Lusk, Wyoming
and then Manville, where it traveled cross country to the Platte
River at Orin, through Douglas and Glenrock, then finally into
is the first J.C. Penny store, located in Kemmerer,
the very first Penny's was in a little town of a few
hundred people in west-central Wyoming! How it ever got
out of there and went national, God only knows! I don't
think it's headquarters is in Wyoming anymore, though.
sad, sad present.
remnants are all that's left of the C&NW's Cowboy Line
in Wyoming - the railroad grade, some decaying trestles
and a few other forgotten right-of-way elements. The
C&NW line west of Casper was abandoned in the early
1980s, and the remainder of the line between Crawford,
Nebraska and Casper was abandoned before the UP merger.
A few years
later, I believe under the auspices of the Wyoming & North
Western Railroad Company, this line, part of the C&NW's
"Cowboy Line," was extended westward, through the
rolling sage land of the Wind River basin all the way to Lander.
It followed along the Middle Fork of Casper Creek about thirty
miles, where it left the creek and was laid overland to the
Powder River, about five miles or so farther west. After
following the Powder River upstream just a few miles, the line
again jumps overland, this time about fifteen miles to Poison
Creek, which it then paralleled all the way to Shoshoni
(these names aren't typos - the river is Shoshone; the town is
Shoshoni. I have no clue why). From Shoshoni the line turned
slightly toward the south to follow the Wind River to Riverton
and Arapahoe, both on the Shoshone Indian Reservation, then
followed the Popo Agie River to end of track in Lander
(not on the Reservation).
understanding that the entire line from Casper westward was part
of the C&NW's abortive attempt at becoming another
transcontinental railroad. The line was to continue on from
Lander to cross the continental divide at South Pass, then
proceed westward to the Pacific.
As I understand
it (I'll learn more specifically later), sometime in the early
1930s the C&NW abandoned the line from Illco, about 15
miles west of Casper, to near Shoshoni, and entered into a
trackage rights agreement to use the CB&Q's line to a point
named Shobon, slightly northeast of Shoshoni, from where the
C&NW constructed a short section of track to connect to the
remainder of its line through Shoshoni and on to Lander. Some
years later, in the 1960s or 1970s, the portion of the line from
Riverton to Lander was abandoned, and then in the 1980s what was
left of C&NW's lines west of Casper was abandoned.
End-of-track at the time of the C&NW merger into the Union
Pacific was Casper. The last remnant of the Cowboy Line between
Shoshoni and Riverton is now a 23 mile long hiking trail.
Now that we know
the general layout of the C&NW west of Casper, let's jump
back to the CB&Q.
TO THE CB&Q
continued to parallel the existing C&NW (that part of the
C&NW then being called the Wyoming & North Western,
according to one map I have) westward out of Casper when it
began extending its line toward its connection in Thermopolis,
in the early 1900s. At the town of Powder
River, located where the C&NW first reached the Powder
River in its westward stretch, the CB&Q diverged from the
C&NW. As described above, the C&NW line ran west through
the Wind River basin, roughly following Poison Creek to Shoshoni
and then along the Wind River into Riverton and finally on to
Burlington train approaches the station in Moorcroft,
Wyoming. Moorcroft is nowhere near the area I'm modeling -
it's near the Powder River Basin in northeastern Wyoming.
Nice photo though, isn't it?
The CB&Q, on
the other hand, took a path through the basin that took it north
of the C&NW line, along Alkali Creek to Badwater River to
Wind River, where it turned north to traverse the Wind River
Canyon. The CB&Q did not bother with a connection to
Shoshoni, even though it was 100 miles west of Casper, and
Shoshoni was only about four miles south of the selected grade.
construction through the Wind River Canyon, including blasting a
right-of-way through hard igneous rock (creating several short
tunnels in the process), the CB&Q Wind River line was
completed when it connected with the line coming south through
Thermopolis from Laurel, Montana.