Cheyenne Was Once The Richest City In The World
Have you ever heard Wyoming’s Capitol City was once the richest city in America? Actually, it was not only the richest in the U.S. It was the richest city in the world.
At birth in 1867, Cheyenne was not yet the Capitol City of any state. Before Wyoming Territory, it was the capitol of Dakota Territory first, but a Boomtown” it would be.
From the time the brand new Union Pacific reached the area, Nov. 13, 1867, it was on. Before the Wyoming Stock Growers Association acted as an interim de facto government of the territory, 1867 was also long before “over-governing.” Without much regulation, a city was ripe for growth explosion.
As a community of 600 came the charter for the city, and a first mayor elected (H.M. Hook). By the end of that same year, Cheyenne’s population was already 4,000.
Churches had been built and a first school started with a whole 114 pupils. It was not a “Little House on the Prairie.” Here, the saloon and the cemetery were the most important places in town. In an attempt at order, the churches backed an ordinance that closed saloons for four hours on Sundays.
There wasn’t yet over-governing, but there was under-enforcing of the law – except for the vigilantes that were somewhat effective.
A degree of peace returned when railroad construction moved on to Sherman Pass. By then land lots in Cheyenne were selling for over $2,500, and in the 1870s Cheyenne was a prosperous ranching area – breeding for the European beef market. Visiting Englishmen and wealthy cattle owners met at their new Cheyenne Club, making “policy,” and dining in luxury, striking deals for the whole West. The club employed a foreign chef whose cuisine was known nationwide.
With the opening of the Black Hills gold fields in 1875, Cheyenne provided people and provisions. The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage was formed, though those traveling that route were not always well guarded from raids of their untold wealth.
By the time electric lights were installed in 1882, Cheyenne was the wealthiest city per capita in the world.
From an 1865 campsite for the Army’s Major General Grenville M. Dodge and troops – scouting a railroad route – by July 5, 1867, Dodge was surveying the site for a new town, which was named by friends of Dodge, who wanted to call it, “Crow Creek Crossing”. Thank God that naming tragedy was averted right off, and Cheyenne it was – 150 years ago.