July 2020 – The Casper Rail Trail (Part 1)
The C&NW rail line in Casper was abandoned shortly after the Union Pacific absorbed the C&NW in 1995. The Casper operation had been an island operation for some time, meaning that the railroad had no trackage to Casper anymore, but instead relied on trackage rights to Casper via the Burlington Northern. Some years later (I'm not sure of the exact date, but sometime in the 2000-2012 timeframe) the Casper Rail Trail was built along the old right-of-way.
So along comes 2020, and I've retired back to Casper )I lived here for seven years as a child). The trail has been established for some time.
I've enjoyed exploring various old railroad lines and rail trails over the years (some examples being the old GN line over Stevens Pass in the Cascades - before the Iron Goat trail was established, the Milwaukee Road's abandoned line over Snowqualmie Pass, and the Tybee Island Railroad rail trail near Savannah, GA), so I decided to walk the western half of the Casper rail trail.
The western end of the trail is shown on both traillink.com and google maps to start at Midwest Avenue and Oak Street in downtown Casper, but actually it starts now at Midwest and Ash Street. The unimproved two blocks west of there to Oak has been obliterated by construction of a new building. Here we're looking west from Ash Street:
Just past monument row is one of the busiest intersections the trail crosses - 2nd Street, the main east-west thoroughfare through town, and Kimball Street, which connects Collins Drive (the old Railroad Avenue) to the west, to Yellowstone Highway to the east. On the trail you have to cross Kimball and then 2nd when heading east. The railroad used to cut right across both in the middle of the intersection. Here I'm loooking north and west across the intersection. I've crossed Kimball and am waiting for the light to cross 2nd.
That building across the way is the Commissary Mall. Back when I was a young kid (55 years ago) I think it was a Sears. My mother called it the Sears Commissary, and it's where we did all of our shopping for school clothes (I'll bet you're thrilled to know that!).
Around 800 feet past the 1st Street crossing we come to the intersection of Yellowstone Highway and McKinley Street, where we find this little gem of a sign:
This sign has been here for at least 50 years, and I'm thinking it's been at least ten years longer than that. The Topper Motel has been gone for years, but it's legacy lives on. The sign survives simply because there isn't enough land on this side of the highway to do anything with.
As we're approaching Walsh Drive and the end of our walk for the day, I saw this very old utility pole next to the trail. Is it the remnant of a telegraph line that followed the CNW, or something more recent? All I can tell now is that it's an orphan pole that isn't used for anything anymore. The grade is to the left of the trail in this area.
In the distance, is Walsh Drive, under the I-15 Overpass. I turned right at this point to go to my car parked in the Post Office parking lot a block away.There is precious little of anything railroad-related left along the CNW line through Casper, at least to this point along the trail. At some point I'll walk the remainder of the trail from Walsh Drive east to Hat 6 Road. I'll add that little trek to the website afterwards. Thanks for following along!