Railroad and telegraph may come through
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
There has been a lot of interest expressed by stage coach operators and the general public over a bill before the U.S. Senate this summer. The bill would provide for the incorporation of the National Pacific Railroad and Telegraph Company. The purpose of the corporation is to construct and operate a railway and telegraph line from Cheyenne to Deadwood and from Fort Laramie to Fort Fetterman (near Douglas), thence northward to Helena, in Montana Territory, and then on westward to the Pacific Ocean.
In the last few years there has been much interest in building roads and railroads in this area. Early in 1874, through the influence of Cheyenne citizens, a bill was introduced into congress, to grant a right of way to the Cheyenne, Iron Mountain and Helena railroad. The proposed railroad would have passed through the territories of Wyoming and Montana. It also carried an amendment which provided for a road from Cheyenne to the Red Cloud agency on White Earth river, only 50 miles from the Black Hills.
Shortly after the Cheyenne, Iron Mountain and Helena bill was proposed, the Cheyenne and Fort Ellis Transportation Company was organized. This company with a capitalization of $50,0000 was authorized, under its articles of incorporation, to "build roads, bridges, collect toll, transport freight over any portion of the route and to transact other business as may be desired."
The office of Indian affairs in Washington immediately blocked the building of a wagon road through Indian country as "highly inexpedient and dangerous to the peace of the frontier." Nothing concrete ever came of either company's plans.
Railroad promoters, however, are not easily discouraged and by early last year Gen. J.A. Evans and his surveying party had arrived in Cheyenne. Their job was to begin a preliminary survey of a proposed railway from Cheyenne to the Black Hills.
Early this year the board of directors of the Union Pacific railroad voted to construct 100 miles of railway from their main line toward the Black Hills.That would have taken the rails beyond the Platte River. Construction of this line was planned for this summer, however it has been delayed.
In late January, our Laramie County voters approved the issuance of $150,000 in bonds to the Colorado Central railroad. A standing committee of Cheyenne men including F.E. Warren, A.R. Converce, A.H. Swan and several others had been appointed last year relative to the Colorado Central and Cheyenne, Black Hills and Montana railroads. The passing of the bond issue was an effort to insure that Cheyenne, instead of Sidney, will be the starting point for the Hills railway. Capt. E.L. Berthoud of the Colorado Central and his surveying party arrived in Cheyenne in April to look for a more direct route to the Hills.