Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Wyoming Railroad Map, 1915

The Wyoming State Library has published a series of historic maps of the state, including railroad maps.  I'd been hoping to find one for 1915 (book research, which I've been turning to again, which probably makes this blog a bit more like it originally was, and a bit more dull for the few people who actually stop in here), and low and behold, they had one.

1915 Wyoming Railroad Map.

Interesting map, it shows some things that I'd wondered about.

It shows, for one thing, that Casper was served by the Burlington Northern, which I new, and the Chicago and North Western, which I sort of knew, but it was celled the Great North Western in its later years.  It served Casper up until probably about 25 years ago or so.  There's hardly any remnant of it here now, and its old rail line here was converted to a trail through the town.  The old depot is a nice looking office building, but I don't know if that building dates back to 1915.  I doubt it.  I don't think that the Burlington Northern one isn't that old either.

 
Former Chicago and North Western depot in Casper.

 Burlington Northern Depot in Casper.

A really interesting aspect of this is that it shows two parallel lines actually running from where the railroads met in Douglas.  I knew that there were two depots in Douglas, and I knew there were remnants of the North West line east of town, but I didn't realize that the two lines actually ran astride each other, more or less (within a few miles of each other), from Douglas to Powder River, where they joined. The depot at Powder River is no longer there.

 
Former depot for one of the railroads in Douglas, now used as a railroad interpretive center.

 
 The other depot in Douglas, now a restaurant called "The Depot".

After that, interestingly, the Chicago and North Western ran to Shoshoni, while the Burlington Northern did not.  Now, a local short line runs to Shoshoni and links in somewhere with the  BN, but I don't know where.  Not in Powder River, that's for sure.  The BN still runs north through the Wind River Canyon, however, taking a turn at Shoshoni, which did not at that time, still passing through Lysite as it then did.  No rail line runs from Shoshoni to Riverton, and on to Hudson and Lander like this map shows.  And as with one of the Douglas depots, the old Riverton line is now a restaurant, although I've apparently failed to photograph that one (note to self, I suppose).  It's pretty amazing to think, really, that Fremont County's rail service has really declined pretty significantly in the past century, with Lander no longer being a terminus.  

Rail facilties in Lysite, which are probably nearly as old as the map being discussed here.

Going the other way, the results are even more surprising.  Orin Junction is still there, and is still a railroad junction, but just for the Burlington Northern.  The railroad still runs east to Lusk, but that's a Burlington Northern line today, apparently running on the old path of the Chicago and North Western.  Going south east, that line is still there up to Harville, but from the there what's indicated as a Colorado & "South 'N" line is now a Union Pacific line.

I honestly don't know, and really should, how far south that UP line runs, which shows that this is one of those areas of my state's history and present that I don't know that much about.  It's funny how something like this can really surprise you, and make you realize that you don't know aas much as you think.  I know that the BN runs as far south as Chugwater today, and further south than that, but I don't know if it runs into Cheyenne like it once did (or rather the Colorado did).  The main line of the UP runs through southern Wyoming and there's a huge yard in Cheyenne, so presumably there's a junction there somewhere.

The former Union Pacific depot in Cheyenne, now, of course, a restaurant and a museum.

This map in fact answered a question for me which I had, which is that if you wanted to travel from Casper to Cheyenne on a timely basis, what route would the train take. Well, now I know.  In 1915, you'd take either of the railroads serving Casper east to Orin Junction, and then take the BN south to Hartville.  From there, you'd take the Colorado south to Cheyenne.  From there, the extensive UP lines opened up the path west, south and east.

It's also interesting to see some lines that I knew once existed, but which are now defunct, shown here on the map.  The Saratoga & Encampment, for example, is shown.  I didn't know it was that told, but I should have.  The Colorado & Eastern running from Laramie up to the Snowies is also shown.  I knew that some railroad had done that, and that the lines are still there (a shortline serving skiers was attempted a few years ago, but no longer runs), but I didn't know what line that was.

Very interesting stuff.

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Postscript

Out of curiosity, I took a look at the map for 1930, the last one they had up.  The rail lines were the same in 1930 as they were in 1915.

That shouldn't, I suppose, surprise me really.  For one thing, all the basic service lines appear to have been in by 1915 (or earlier, I'll  have to see if there's an earlier rail map).  And the last 1930 map was a "travel" map, not specifically a rail line map, like the 1915 one was, so perhaps it may have omitted any newer lines, although I doubt it.  Of interest, that travel map for 1930 only showed rail lines, not roads, so the presumption was obvious that if you were going to be doing much traveling, it was going to be by rail. 

Postscript II

Another thing that occurs to me from looking at this map is the extent of rail service, particularly passenger service, but all rail service in general, at a time when the state's population was less than half of what it present is. Very extensive.  Quite a remarkable change, compared to now, when some of these lines and many of the smaller railroads no longer exist here at all.

Of course, that no doubt reflects the massive changes in transportation we've seen, the improvement of roads, and of course the huge improvement in automobiles over this period.

1 comment:

Pat and Marcus said...

As the hot link doesn't seem to be working:

http://wiki.wyomingplaces.org/w/file/fetch/71327953/1915RailroadMapWY.jpg