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Cheyenne: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Cheyenne's economy is based mainly on light manufacturing, agriculture, the military and government, tourism, services, and transportation. Cattle- and sheep-raising continue to be important in the region, yet the economy of Cheyenne has become diversified with the development of industries such as fertilizer processing plants. Other manufacturing includes electronic products and precision instruments as well as restaurant equipment. F. E. Warren U.S. Air Force Base, site of a major installation of the Strategic Air Command, is the city's largest employer; federal, state, and county government offices are located in Cheyenne. Major private sector employers include United Medical Center, Union Pacific Railroad, Lowe's Companies, Inc., Sierra Trading Post, Echo Star Communications, Frontier Refining, WalMart, Little America, Hitching Post Inn, and Life Care Cheyenne. With access to two railroads, to interstate freeways, and to commercial air service, the city is a vital transportation center for the state of Wyoming.

Items and goods produced: ski wear, oil, fertilizer, flight instruments and testing equipment

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Local programs

At the local level, Cheyenne LEADS, a private, not-for-profit economic development organization, assists non-retail businesses through such services as site location, employee training, and demographic and financial assistance. The Wyoming Business Council's regional office in Cheyenne offers expansion assistance for current businesses, and relocation assistance for businesses looking to expand into the area.

State programs

Wyoming's history of minimal involvement in its citizens' lives is reflected in its low taxes on businesses and individuals. There is no corporate or personal state income tax and no sales and use tax on fuel, power, or raw materials used in the manufacturing process. Goods in transit or manufactured or assembled and sold outside the state are exempt from tax, and the tax on gasoline and diesel fuel is among the lowest in the country. The state offers a variety of loan, grant, and bond programs available to new, expanding, and relocating businesses.

Job training programs

Laramie County School District provides education programs at the secondary level in areas such as agricultural science, industrial technology, business and marketing education, health occupations, and core employability skills. Cheyenne colleges work with both businesses and the community to develop training programs for businesses and potential employees. Our Families Our Future in Cheyenne provides assistance to populations living below poverty through training programs and job search help. Our Families Our Future works with Wyoming agencies, community colleges, and employers; the organization began the CLIMB program in 2004 to train eligible single mothers in the field of medical transcription.

Development Projects

In 2001, city leaders, the chamber of commerce, and other individuals and organizations got together to finalize the Greater Cheyenne Vision 2020 plan. The plan calls for a variety of projects to revitalize the city's downtown, as well as create economic development, quality jobs, new entertainment and recreation opportunities, and transportation options.

Recently, United Medical Center of Cheyenne completed a $31 million renovation of one of Wyoming's largest hospitals. The 198-bed hospital, a public facility owned by Laramie County, spent $15 million to build a new patient tower and reconstruct its front entrance. Completed in 2002, the project received the Wyoming Engineering Society Presidential Project Award. In 2002, home-improvement retailer Lowe's Companies, Inc. opened a 1,000,000-square-foot regional distribution center. In 2004 Cheyenne LEADS purchased 612 acres on which the West I-80 Business Park will be built. This second of two business parks owned by LEADS will have its own interchange onto I-80.

Economic Development Information: Cheyenne LEADS, 1720 Carey, Suite 401, PO Box 1045, Cheyenne, WY 82003; telephone (307)638-6000; toll-free (800)255-0742; email [email protected]

Commercial Shipping

A major transportation center in the state, Cheyenne routes air cargo service through Cheyenne Regional Airport. Two railroads provide daily freight transportation, and a variety of motor freight carriers move goods through facilities in Cheyenne and onto interstates 80 and 25.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Cheyenne's labor force is described as available, educated, and productive. Although the local unemployment rate is low, a 2001 study conducted by PathFinders Resources found there are about 12,300 underemployed workers in Laramie and Goshen counties in Wyoming and portions of nearby Larimer and Weld counties in Colorado.

In July 2004 Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranked Cheyenne the top tax-friendly city in the country. Wyoming residents gain from the state's lenient tax structure, including no personal income tax, capital gains tax, and corporate income taxes. The state does not levy estate tax beyond the federal pick-up level, nor does it levy an electric utilities tax. Low health insurance rates are also in effect.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Cheyenne labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of non-agricultural labor force: 40,700

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 2,600

manufacturing: 1,500

trade, transportation and utilities: 8,600

information: 1,000

financial activities: 2,000

professional and business services: 3,200

educational and health services: 3,100

leisure and hospitality: 4,400

other services: 1,600

government: 12,400

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing (State of Wyoming): $16.74

Unemployment rate: 4.3% (February 2005)

Largest employers Number of employees
F.E. Warren U.S. Air Force Base 4,190
State of Wyoming 3,574
U.S. Government 1,811
Laramie County School District #1 1,794
United Medical Center 992
Union Pacific Railroad 700

Cost of Living

The following is a summary of data regarding key cost of living factors for the Cheyenne area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $340,193

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 111.0 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: None

State sales tax rate: 4.0%

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 1.0%

Property tax rate: 77.31 mills on 9.5% of residential market value (2004)

Economic Information: Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce, 301 West 16 Street, PO Box 1147, Cheyenne, WY 82003-1147; telephone (307)638-3388; fax (307)778-1450. Laramie County Community College, Center for Economic and Business Data, 1400 E. College Drive, Cheyenne, WY 82007; telephone (307)778-1325; fax (307)778-4309

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Cheyenne: Recreation


Cheyenne features several sites that recall the city's past. The Tivoli Building, which houses the Chamber of Commerce, was completed in 1892. It is among the best examples of Victorian architecture in the Rocky Mountain region. The former Union Pacific Depot is an equally fine example of Romanesque architecture. Located on Capitol Avenue, the Wyoming State Capitol building contains historic photographs and a display of native wildlife; near the Capitol is a statue of Esther Hobart Morris, a pioneer in the women's suffrage movement. A guided walking tour of historic Cheyenne is available.

The French Merci Train was sent to the American people by French citizens in 1946 as a "thank-you" for the Friendship Train that carried food from America to France during World War II. The Big Boy steam engine"Old Number 4004"is the world's largest steam locomotive and was retired from the Union Pacific Railroad in 1956. F. E. Warren U.S. Air Force Base houses intercontinental ballistic missiles; free tours are conducted.

Recalling the days of cattle barons, the Wyoming Hereford Ranch east of Cheyenne was established in 1883; still in operation and producing Hereford cattle, it is the oldest continuous registered livestock operation in the county. The ranch hosts visitors and community events. Terry Bison Ranch is a working guest ranch that offers chuckwagon dinners, trout fishing, and horse-drawn wagon tours into a bison herd.

The Cheyenne Botanic Gardens in Lions Park, open 365 days a year, is a public botanical garden as well as a municipal nursery and community garden. Their conserva-tory is entirely solar heated; 50 percent of the garden's electricity is also solar-generated. Displays include rose, cacti, and herbs, and plants native to the area.

Other points of interest are historic Lakeview Cemetery, and the Wyoming Game & Fish Visitors Center, featuring wild-life exhibits ranging from grizzly bears to big horn sheep.

Arts and Culture

Cheyenne supports an active cultural community. The Civic Center is the site of performances by Broadway touring companies, major symphony orchestras, and popular entertainers. Residents also enjoy concerts by the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra from September through May and occasionally in the summer. The Cheyenne Little Theatre stages plays with local directors and actors at its own playhouse; in the summer it stages melodramas at the historic Atlas Theatre.

Several museums are located in Cheyenne. The Wyoming State Museum displays western memorabilia and chronicles the history of Wyoming. The Wyoming Arts Council Gallery displays the works of Wyoming artists. The Nelson Museum of the West houses cowboy and Indian collectibles and wildlife trophies from around the world. The Governors' Mansion, a state historic site and an example of colonial-revival architecture, was home to the state's governors from 1905 to 1976; guided tours are available. At the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum, highlights include Oglala Sioux artifacts, a Union Pacific railroad exhibit, and a collection of horse-drawn vehicles.

Festivals and Holidays

The foremost event in the Cheyenne area is Cheyenne Frontier Days. Taking place during the last full week in July, it is billed as the world's largest outdoor rodeo. Frontier Days features daily rodeos, concerts, parades, pancake breakfasts, Native American dances, shootouts, and a carnival. The festivities attract hundreds of thousands of people. Running concurrently is the annual Western Art Show at the Old West Museum in Frontier Park. In June and July Cheyenne Gunslinger Gunfights are enacted. In August Cheyenne hosts the Laramie County Fair. Oktoberfest is held in the fall. Highlights of the Christmas season are the Christmas parade, craft show, and concert, held at the end of November.

Sports for the Spectator

There are no major league professional sports teams in Wyoming. Cheyenne is home of the oldest rodeo event in the world; other rodeos are presented in the city throughout the year. The Wyoming State Open Golf Tournament is held at the Airport Golf Club, and Holiday Park in Cheyenne is host to the Wyoming Governor's Cup Tennis Tournament. The city is also the site of state youth baseball and softball tournaments.

Sports for the Participant

Cheyenne maintains 24 city parks which cover more than 600 acres, plus 15 miles of the Cheyenne Greenway Trail. The city has 14 baseball fields, nine softball fields, 12 tennis courts, 5 golf courses, and 2 public swimming pools. Curt Gowdy State Park is located 25 miles outside of the city, while the Vedauwoo and Happy Jack recreational areas are approximately 30 miles away. Facilities for such sports as hunting, fishing, boating, camping, trap-shooting, snowmobiling, polo, tennis, and waterskiing are available.

Shopping and Dining

Shopping in downtown Cheyenne is enhanced by a sense of tradition; among the wide selection of stores, shops, and boutiques are several that have been in the city for many years. Nine shopping areas are located throughout the city. Frontier Mall features national retailers such as JCPenney, Bath and Body Works, American Eagle, and Dillard's. Cheyenne Farmer's Market, open half-days from August to October, sells fresh fruits, vegetables, and more.

Cheyenne offers a range of dining experience from traditional Southwestern specialties to Continental and ethnic cuisine such as Mexican, Italian, Greek, and Japanese. Numerous fast-food restaurants are also located in Cheyenne.

Visitor Information: Cheyenne Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, One Depot Square, 121 W. 15th Street, Suite 202, Cheyenne WY 82001; telephone (307)778-3133; toll-free (800)426-5009; fax (307)778-3190; email info Wyoming Travel Information Center, I-25 and College Drive, Cheyenne, WY 82002; telephone (307)777-7777

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Cheyenne: History

Rough-and-Tumble Beginnings of Railroad Terminus

The region where present-day Cheyenne stands was originally occupied by a Native American Plains tribe in the Algonquian linguistic family. The townsite was initially a campsite for the U.S. Army's Major General Grenville M. Dodge and his troops, who were charged in 1865 with finding a railroad route over the Laramie Mountains. In 1867, when Dodge became chief engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad, he established a terminal town there; he named it Cheyenne for the local tribe. Dodge received some criticism in the local press for his mispronunciation of the word, which was actually "shai-en-na;" but his two-syllable version was accepted through usage.

Fort D. A. Russell was built in 1867 to protect railroad construction crews. Soon real estate speculators, merchants, gamblers, and tradesmen converged on Cheyenne in hopes of profiting from the construction project. Violent disputes arose over ownership of the land, since the railroad had already claimed it and citizens questioned the company's right to do so. Eventually troops from Fort Russell were called in; land jumpers were run out of town and could not return until they promised to acknowledge the railroad's claim.

A town charter was accepted by the Dakota Territorial Legislature in 1867 and Cheyenne was thereupon incorporated. By the end of that year the population had risen to 4,000 people, and lots were selling for $2,500. Makeshift buildings gave the town a raffish appearance, but even before railroad construction began, Cheyenne enjoyed the elements of a stable community; churches had been built and the first school, with 114 pupils, was opened in 1867. Within a year Cheyenne was thriving. More than 300 businesses were in operation, and the diverse citizenry included engineers, lawyers, artists, Native Americans, trappers, hunters, laborers, gamblers, and gunslingers. The town, however, was soon overrun by lawlessness.

The early Cheyenne closely resembled the Wild West towns depicted in novels and films. Dodge named it the gambling center of the world and some dubbed it "Hell on Wheels." Mayhem and violence were a way of life, with the saloon and the cemetery being the most important places in town. In an attempt to impose order, the churches backed an ordinance that closed saloons for four hours on Sundays; another ruling required visitors to check their guns. But laws were virtually unenforceable, so the vigilante "committee" became a substitute for the courts. Although the city government had been given powers by the Dakota Legislature upon incorporation, civic leaders found the vigilante approach to be more effective. When the jail became full, for instance, prisoners were driven from town with a whip or a six-shooter; frequently the committee executed perpetrators of severe crimes.

Riches Flow from Cattle, Sheep, Gold

A degree of peacefulness returned when railroad construction moved on toward Sherman Pass and transients followed. But then the first Sioux War broke out north of the Platte River, and Fort Russell became the supply depot for the Rocky Mountain region. In 1868 Cheyenne was made the seat of Laramie County; the following year it was named the capital of the new Wyoming territory. By the 1870s Cheyenne was the center of a prosperous ranching area where cattle were bred for a European beef market. Visiting Englishmen, who spent summers in Cheyenne and winters in Europe, joined wealthy cattle owners to found the Cheyenne Club, where they dined in luxury and struck deals that affected the cattle industry throughout the West. Furnished in the English style and serving the finest liquors in the world, the club employed a foreign chef whose cuisine was known nationwide.

With the opening of the Black Hills gold fields in 1875, the town profited from a new industry as Cheyenne merchants supplied miners and prospectors with provisions and equipment. The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage Company was formed to transport passengers and cargo between the railroad and the mines. When electric lights were installed in 1882, Cheyenne was the wealthiest city per capita in the world. Cheyenne was named the capital of the new state of Wyoming in 1890, and the Capitol building was erected in the city. By 1890 the population had reached 10,000 people.

Before the turn of the century many ranchers had begun raising sheep, which adapted well to the climate and the native grasses; sheep raising continues to be an important industry in the area. During the twentieth century Cheyenne became an industrial and manufacturing center, and the Francis E. Warren U.S. Air Force Base was established at Fort Russell. In spite of extensive development as one of the state's largest cities (one out of five Wyoming residents lives in Cheyenne) and as a commercial, industrial, and transportation hub, Cheyenne has maintained a high quality of life and a pollution-free environment.

Historical Information: Wyoming State Archives, Barrett Building, 2301 Central Avenue, Cheyenne, WY 82002; telephone (307)777-7826; fax (307)777-7044; email [email protected]

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Cheyenne: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Public elementary and secondary schools in Cheyenne are part of Laramie County School District #1 (LCSD1). The district, the largest in the state, is administered by a seven-member Board of Trustees and a superintendent. The Cheyenne Schools Foundation works "to engage community interest and support for enhanced academic, personal, and vocational opportunities for LCSD1 students beyond the capacity of the local school district budget." The Foundation also provides grants to benefit district and school-wide projects as well as teachers for classroom projects that address student needs.

Among the special programs offered by the school district is a magnet school for high-potential elementary students. Eighty percent of elementary and secondary students are involved in one or more extracurricular activities, which include music, sports, clubs, and after-school projects. The Community Based Occupational Education (CBOE) High School is an alternative education program that helps students meet the academic standards for the State of Wyoming and LCSD1 as well as gain employable business skills for the future.

The following is a summary of data regarding Laramie County School District #1 as of the 20032004 school year.

Total enrollment: 13,065

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 26

junior high schools: 3

senior high schools: 4

Student/teacher ratio: 15:1

Teacher salaries

minimum: $26,450

average: $40,455

Funding per pupil: $8,179

Four private elementary and middle schools and one private senior high school are located in Cheyenne.

Public Schools Information: Laramie County School District #1, 2810 House Avenue, Cheyenne, WY 82001; telephone (307)771-2100

Colleges and Universities

Laramie County Community College, which provides a two-year curriculum, is based in Cheyenne. Also located in the county are Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Preston University, Kennedy-Western University, and Park College. The University of Wyoming-Laramie, the state's only public university, is less than 45 miles west of Cheyenne. Popular majors there are elementary and secondary education and social work.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Laramie County Library System, established in 1886, is the oldest continually operating county library system in the country. In addition to its main library in Cheyenne, the Laramie County Library System operates two branches and a bookmobile serving the rural eastern portion of the county. Its holdings include about 258,000 volumes as well as periodical titles, microfiche, maps, CDs, videos, DVDs, and music CDs; the library also offers Internet connectivity, books-on-tape, video games, and art reproductions. Special collections are the Carpenter Collection of Western Americana and material on the elk of North America. The library's genealogy collection includes extensive materials from the Wyoming State Library and the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The Wyoming State Library is also located in Cheyenne. It contains more than 130,000 volumes and is a federal, state, and regional document depository. The Wyoming Center for the Book, established in 1995, operates as a program within the Wyoming State Library. A state affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book, it "promotes the values of a literate and learned society through a variety of programs including a database of Wyoming writers and literary guide." The Laramie County Community College Instructional Resources Center is also located in Cheyenne. Other specialized libraries in the city are affiliated with hospitals, fraternal organizations, colleges, and government agencies.

The University of Wyoming-Laramie conducts research activities in dozens of disciplines, such as education; biological, physical, and social sciences; business and economics; mathematics; and politics and government in Wyoming. At the university's Archaeological Dig Site in Pine Bluffs, researchers extract relics and prehistoric artifacts dating back 8,000 years.

Public Library Information: Laramie County Library System, 2800 Central Avenue, Cheyenne, WY 82001; telephone (307)634-3561

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Cheyenne: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents (Laramie County)

1980: 68,600

1990: 73,142

2000: 81,607

2003 estimate: 84,083

Percent change, 19902000: 3%

U.S. rank in 2000: 637th

City Residents

1980: 47,283

1990: 50,008

2000: 53,011

2003 estimate: 54,374

Percent change, 19902000: 5.6%

U.S. rank in 1980: 451st

U.S. rank in 1990: 504th (State rank: 1st)

U.S. rank in 2000: 520th (State rank: 1st)

Density: 2,511.4 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 46,707

Black or African American: 1,472

American Indian and Alaskan Native: 430

Asian: 561

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 59

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 6,646

Other: 2,356

Percent of residents born in state: 36.9% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 3,422

Population 5 to 9 years old: 3,677

Population 10 to 14 years old: 3,755

Population 15 to 19 years old: 3,683

Population 20 to 24 years old: 3,337

Population 25 to 34 years old: 7,362

Population 35 to 44 years old: 8,387

Population 45 to 54 years old: 7,423

Population 55 to 59 years old: 2,562

Population 60 to 64 years old: 2,090

Population 65 to 74 years old: 3,723

Population 75 to 84 years old: 2,638

Population 85 years and older: 952

Median age: 36.6 years

Births (2001, Laramie County)

Total number: 1,116

Deaths (2001, Laramie County)

Total number: 681

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $19,809

Median household income: $38,856

Total households: 22,346

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 1,744

$10,000 to $14,999: 1,587

$15,000 to $24,999: 3,245

$25,000 to $34,999: 3,435

$35,000 to $49,999: 4,502

$50,000 to $74,999: 4,456

$75,000 to $99,999: 2,076

$100,000 to $149,999: 935

$150,000 to $199,999: 154

$200,000 or more: 933

Percent of families below poverty level: 6.3 (37.3% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 2,476

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Cheyenne: Introduction
Cheyenne: Geography and Climate
Cheyenne: History
Cheyenne: Population Profile
Cheyenne: Municipal Government
Cheyenne: Economy
Cheyenne: Education and Research
Cheyenne: Health Care
Cheyenne: Recreation
Cheyenne: Convention Facilities
Cheyenne: Transportation
Cheyenne: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1867 (incorporated, 1867)

Head Official: Mayor Jack R. Spiker (since 2001)

City Population

1980: 47,283

1990: 50,008

2000: 53,011

2003 estimate: 54,374

Percent change, 19902000: 6%

U.S. rank in 1980: 451st

U.S. rank in 1990: 504th

U.S. rank in 2000: 520th

Metropolitan Area Population (Laramie County)

1980: 68,600

1990: 73,142

2000: 81,607

Percent change, 19902000: 11.6%

U.S. rank in 2000: 637th

Area: 21.19 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 6,062 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 45.6° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 14.1 inches of rain; 51.3 inches of snow

Major Economic Sectors: Public administration, wholesale and retail trade, services

Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (February 2005)

Per Capita Income: $19,809 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 2,476

Major Colleges and Universities: Laramie County Community College, University of Wyoming-Laramie

Daily Newspaper: The Wyoming Tribune Eagle

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Cheyenne: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

Cheyenne's daily newspaper is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle ; in addition to the print edition, an online edition of the paper can be accessed via the Internet. Warren Sentinel is a weekly paper published by Wyoming Newspapers for F.E. Warren Air Force Base. Also published in Cheyenne are Wyoming Wildlife, a Wyoming Fish and Game Department magazine on hunting, fishing, and environmental issues, and Wyoming Stockman-Farmer.

Television and Radio

One television station affiliated with a major network broadcasts from Cheyenne. The city also receives four stations from Denver and Casper; cable is available. The area is served by seven AM and FM radio stations that feature news and information, music, and special programming.

Media Information: Wyoming Newspaper Group, 702 West Lincolnway, Cheyenne, WY 82001; telephone (307)634-3361

Cheyenne Online

Cheyenne Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. Available

Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce. Available

Laramie County School District. Available

Wyoming Tribune-Eagle. Available

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Cheyenne: Geography and Climate

Surrounded by rolling prairie, Cheyenne is located between the North and South Platte rivers. The Laramie Mountains 30 miles west of the city form a ridge that is part of the Rocky Mountain range and that significantly influences local temperature and weather. Winds passing over the ridge from the northwest through the west to southwest produce a Chinook effect, particularly during the winter. (Chinooks are warm, moist winds from the sea.) Because of the terrain and wind patterns, Cheyenne experiences wide daily temperature fluctuations of 30 degrees in the summer and about 23 degrees in the winter. Snow falls during late winter and early spring, with yearly snowfall averaging 51.3 inches.

Area: 21.19 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 6,062 feet above sea level

Average Temperatures: January, 26.1° F; August, 66.8° F; annual average, 45.6° F.

Average Annual Precipitation: 14.1 inches of rain; 51.3 inches of snow

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Cheyenne: Transportation

Approaching the City

The major routes into Cheyenne are Interstate 25, which runs north and south contiguous with U.S. 85 and 87; east-west I-80; and U.S. 30, which bisects the city southwest to east. Highway 85 provides access from the north- and southeast.

Great Lakes Airlines, operated out of Cheyenne Regional Airport, operates daily shuttle flights to Denver International Airport. From there travelers may connect to flights around the world. Shuttle service from the Denver Airport is available. Casino Express operates monthly gambling excursion flights to Elko, Nevada. Rail transportation is provided by Amtrak, and commercial bus service is available from points throughout Wyoming.

Traveling in the City

The Cheyenne Transit Program is Cheyenne's city-operated bus system. It serves Cheyenne and surrounding areas. The Cheyenne Street Railway takes visitors through the downtown and historic districts and to the air force base from midMay through mid-September. Occasionally the governor will greet riders as they pass his residence.

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