Welcome to the historical pages of the CB&Q Railroad in Wyoming!

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Here I'm going to record, in a hopefully somewhat interesting and coherent way, the things I know and will learn about the CB&Q's Wind River Line, and also some of the stuff I've been learning about the lines it meets in Wyoming, like the C&NW and the C&S. The Powder River line through the northeast part of the state holds little interest for me right now, so I don't plan on spending much time at all researching or writing about it.

For a concise table of events on the CB&Q and C&NW in Wyoming, look at the timeline page.

A great deal of what I've learned has been a bit of information here and an isolated fact there. Information others have sent me via e-mail also has been helpful. I'm trying to meld these all together, and will no doubt misinterpret some of them. Anyone who wishes to send me corrections PLEASE DO! Otherwise, I may never know I've gotten something wrong! You can send me e-mail at bruntonma@yahoo.com, or by clicking on any of the "email me" buttons dropped here and there throughout the site.

It's surprisingly hard to find information about the Wind River Line, and as I don't live in Wyoming anymore (I haven't since I was 18 - a lot farther back than I like), research is very slow. A lot of data I've acquired to date has come from various web sites about Wyoming's communities and families, and from old maps I've purchased off of Ebay. Some day I hope to make a research trip back home to search old newspaper archives and the state archives themselves for more complete information. Meanwhile, on with what I know so far!


The Burlington's Wind River line through Wyoming entered the state from two different directions - near Torrington, shown here in the 1940s, in the southeastern part of the state, and near Frannie in the north. 

The southern part of the line came through Scottsbluff Nebraska, into Torrington, roughly following the banks of the North Platte River, built West-northwest to Wendover, where it met up with the Colorado & Southern, then followed the river to Orin Junction, where it met the already-existing Fremont, Elkton & Missouri Valley RR, then paralleled that line into Douglas. From there the CB&Q ran along the north bank of the Platte westward into Casper. The FE&MV had years earlier claimed the south bank of the river, running through Glenrock and into Casper.

Here's a 1930s version of the not-yet-existing 7-11. The top gas/grocery store was in Ranchester, a few miles northwest of Sheridan. It was nowhere near the Wind River Line, but it's typical of gas stations in that era, and similar ones could be found all over the country in the smaller towns. I'm sure there will be at least one like this, or like the Texaco station, on my layout. The scales, the pumps, the fire hydrant, the rolled up awning  - what a wealth of detail!
Here's another station, this one in Centennial, a little west of Laramie. It also isn't close to the Wind River Line, but it's another great example out of the 1930s.
Continental Divide Texaco 1930s.jpg (41925 bytes)One more 1930s gas station, this one at the Continental Divide. I'm not sure what road this was on.

Meanwhile, the CB&Q was also making its way toward Casper from the north side of the state, entering near Frannie. The first construction south of Frannie was actually the Cody branch, which ran through the agrarian communities of Powell and Ralston, then upstream along the Shoshone River into Cody. This was the CB&Q's access to Yellowstone Park. The NP had the line to Gardiner, Montana; the UP had the line to West Yellowstone, Montana, so the CB&Q ran the line into Cody Wyoming (Cody has always called itself the gateway to Yellowstone). 

Back to the Wind River line - The CB&Q built along Sage Creek, through Deaver and Cowley, to the Shoshone River. The line followed the Shoshone downriver through Lovell, the first decent-sized town (even for Wyoming!) since leaving Laurel, Montana. Frannie, Deaver and Cowley all were, and still remain, small agrarian communities with tiny populations. 

A few miles east of Lovell, the Shoshone River dumps into the Bighorn River, one of the state's larger waterways. The CB&Q followed that river upstream, or southwards, through Greybull, Basin and Worland and finally into Thermopolis. A large part of the line from Lovell to at least Kirby, a few miles north of Thermopolis, was built by the Bighorn Railway. Exactly how much of it, or when that line was rolled into the CB&Q, I don't yet know.

As of 1905 the line was complete to Worland and Thermopolis from the north, and to Casper from the southeast. The connection between the two towns, through the Wind River Canyon and across the Wind River Basin, was not yet complete.

Let's leave the CB&Q there for a bit, and talk a little about the Chicago & North Western, starting on page 2.


History Page 2