Saturday, January 28, 2012

Rails to Trails, Casper Wyoming

Casper is presently served only by the  Burlington Northern Railroad, whose rail line separates North Casper from the rest of Casper. But this wasn't always the case. At one time, Casper had a second rail provider, that being the Chicago and North Western Railroad.

The North Western line was distinctly different than the BNs.  It ran right through downtown, and did so diagonally.  Additionally it's rail yard, a much smaller yard than the BN's, was more or less in downtown, near an industrial area of downtown.  The rail line was essentially a downtown feature, running right past the Sears store, right next to two banks, and right past the back of the library. And it ran through the town diagonally, bisecting city blocks at an angle, and in some cases making for some oddly shaped small city blocks, one of which became Veteran's Park.  Going west, the rail line ran through what was then the Standard Oil Refinery and out the other end (the refinery no doubt also had connecting lines to the BN.  The line ran all the way to Lander Wyoming and in its early days provided passenger service to Lander.

In Casper, people who like trains got to see them a lot.  People who do not like trains also got to see them a lot.

In the late 80s or early 90s, this rail line pulled out of Casper, and the North Western ceased to exist entirely when the company was purchased by the Union Pacific..  The rails were ultimately pulled, and the line has become a "trail", under the rails to trails program in the Casper area.  It's an extremely long trail, running all the way through downtown Casper, into Evansville, and out of town.  It's several miles in length.  Downtown, such as here near its terminus, it's quite improved, but elsewhere its basically a gravel trail.

These photographs trace the trail in the areas in Casper where it is a concrete walkway, some of which has only recently been created. This basically takes us all the way to the west past Ash Street and all the way to the east to Veteran's Park.  It is only a fraction of the trail, but it's the improved downtown portion of the trail, which makes for a very nice walkway in downtown Casper.  These photographs go from West to East, with photographs looking both directions.  In a way, the viewer sees some scenes that were only visible to those on trains before, but at the same time this section of Casper has been heavily altered since the days the last North Western train ran on the tracks.
This is the western most portion off the trail, looking West down the old railroad bed.  From here, the rail line would have gone another couple of blocks before entering the Standard Refinery, which is now a golf course.

Same location as above, looking East.  This would have been in an old industrial area, just a block or so from the old rail yard.  The rail yard had a small turntable now gone.

Looking west.

Looking towards downtown Casper.

Same location, looking west.

One block further east, looking east.  On the right is the Goodstein Building, which was there during the train days.  Its' a significant downtown office building.  The old Sears building, now a furniture store, is visible to the far left.

From the Goodstein Building, on the right, looking west.

 Looking East from Center Street.  The building on the left is a bookstore now, but was built as a hardware store and was a hardware store when trains ran here.  The tall building to the right in the distance is "the Towers", Casper's first apartment building for senior citizens.  Trains ran for the first two decades of its existence.
 Looking West from Center Street, Goodstein Building on right. 

 Same view as immediately above.  The building on the left was a hardware store for many years, but is now a used bookstore.  The building on the right was the train station for this line, but I was not aware of that at the time I took these photographs.

Same view, from across the street.

 One block to the east. This location was where the rail line went right behind a bank, which is still there, and crossed Wolcott Street.  The building to the right was a Safeway for decades, but is now a furniture store.  The building to the left was a large hardware store, but is now a Thai restaurant.  The large building to the rights is The Towers, the first senior citizens home in Casper.

Same location, looking west.

An example of the decorative details of the street lamps, in this case memorializing the rail line.

 Across the street, looking east.

One block to the east.  The Natrona County library is to the left, and has been for many decades.

Another example of a decorative street lamp, this one depicting a hand cart.

Looking east towards the Nicolaysen art museum, the older part of which was the a lumber store, and the foreground was a lumber yard, for much of the time that the rail line ran by here in later years.

View of park near the towers.  This was not a through street when the railroad was still in operation.

Trail near Monument Park.

Trail where railroad once crossed over to Veteran's Park.

Looking west.

View looking south from trail, St. Anthony's Catholic Church in background.


  1. A thread referencing this thread:

  2. Please note that the building you depict as the cnw depot in Casper was never the depot. it is the former office building of Mountain States Power. The CNW depot was built in 1910 and was located directly west of the Goodstein Building. It was torn down in the 80's by MacIntosh Construction. Thank You.