October 11, 2011

The Magic City of the Plains

This is from Maggie Brendan.


Cheyenne, Wyoming was aptly nicknamed The Magic City of the Plains and frequently referred to by its nickname in the local newspaper, Cheyenne Daily Leader, as early as 1867. I was fascinated to learn that it was dubbed The Magic City because of its boom and rapid growth from a ramshackle city on the empty plains like magic. Early on, bull-whackers, thousands of men and a few hundred lewd women, drank and gambled in the raw railroad town bringing debauchery and violence, which left a stain Cheyenne’s reputation. Thankfully, Rev. Joseph W. Cook, an Episcopalian, with the aid of other urban pioneers, set about to institute order in the community, starting churches and schools and civilization of its inhabitants. I was simply in heaven on this trip of research, because this was after all, cowboy country.

When I visited for research last September, the first thing that struck me about Wyoming was the windswept prairie and wildlife. Walking the historic district of Cheyenne ignited my desire to photograph and enjoy reading about the old buildings and homes that are still intact today. With such rich history, I tried to give a glimpse of its details in my book, Deeply Devoted of the Blue Willow Brides series, but there is so much more that could be told. Mail-order brides were a huge part of settling the West.

I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the buildings that I photographed on my trip that are mentioned in Deeply Devoted.

My first glimpse at the Union Pacific Depot as I entered the city of Cheyenne left a lasting impression on me. With its multi colored sandstone and pitched roof that resembled a castle, I decided it would be the starting point in my novel. I marveled at the details of the building and enjoyed the museum there. When my heroine arrives, the clock tower had not yet been erected and wouldn’t be until 1890. It did have a beautiful park in the front with trees, a bronze cannon and fountain, which is still there today.

The interior was so beautiful and I imagined what it must have been like when my heroine, Catharine, stepped off the train.

The Phoenix Block was a successful mercantile store and later the Normandy Hotel. It’s still standing today and the bottom floor is now western ware and at one end a popular cafĂ©, whose name escapes me now.

This the First National Bank, established in 1882.

One of my favorite buildings in Cheyenne is the Tivoli, where Clara and Mac have dinner and run into Greta and Bryon in my story. It was rumored that it had secret passageway, among other things, to other business on the second floor. It’s a beautiful Victorian structure that was a restaurant and beer garden, or speakeasy as it was later called. When I was there for my research, the new owners were refurbishing the interior bar and crown molding in a wonderful dark cherry, I believe from what I could see through the windows.

I hope you enjoyed my little tour of Cheyenne and if you haven’t picked up your copy of Deeply Devoted, I hope you will do so today. I’m enjoying some great reviews. Romantic times gave it 4 stars.

Thanks to Amanda Cabot for her friendship while I was in Cheyenne!


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