Cheyenne's newest attraction is actually one of its oldest -- Cheyenne's historic Union Pacific depot. After being vacant for a number of years, the City of Cheyenne has restored the depot to its glory days when rail travel was king and it was considered to be the most spectacular depot between Omaha and San Francisco.
The Cheyenne depot is now the center of new economic activity in downtown Cheyenne. The art-deco lobby houses the city’s Visitor Center where Visitor Center staff provide information and sell trolley tickets (in the summer) from an authentically recreated ticket counter. The lobby is also available for such events as weddings, receptions, and other events.
The west wing of the depot houses the Cheyenne Depot Museum . The new museum tells the story of how the Union Pacific railroad helped settle Cheyenne with numerous exhibits highlighting the human aspects of building and running the railroad. As residents and travelers tour the museum, they have the opportunity to share their story of railroad experiences at the Cheyenne Depot. The museum will expand into the 2nd floor this year and, in the future, may include a bridge to the Union Pacific roundhouse where visitors can view Union Pacific's steam fleet and other railroad cars and equipment.
The east wing of the depot contains a new restaurant -- the Snake River Pub and Grille -- while upstairs offices are home to the Cheyenne Area Convention & Visitor Bureau, the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce, Cheyenne’s Downtown Development Authority, Cheyenne LEADs (economic development agency), and the Cheyenne Depot Museum administrative offices.
In front of the depot is Depot Plaza which was completed in June 2004. The Plaza is the staging area for the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley, horse drawn carriages, concerts, and the huge pancake breakfasts during the annual Cheyenne Frontier Days celebration.
With construction started in 1886 and completion the next year, the Cheyenne Union Pacific depot features a unique Richardsonian Romanesque style and was constructed from polychromatic sandstone quarried west of Fort Collins, Colorado. Major renovations of the building occurred in 1922 with the addition of "Hick's Hall", the U. P. restaurant, when the structure was extended to its present 331-foot length and again in 1929 when the interior was modernized with steel beams placed in the lobby ceiling and given an art deco flair.
The three-story depot anchors the downtown, its spire facing the Capitol dome nine blocks to the north. Supposedly, the two striking buildings were configured in this manner so Union Pacific could keep an eye on the government and the government could keep an eye on Union Pacific. Passenger rail service at the depot ended in 1972, and Union Pacific vacated the building in 1985 following a major flood of Cheyenne.