Grant to Help Renovate Railcars for 15 St. Railroad Experience Project
Published on June 17, 2022
CHEYENNE – Train enthusiasts rejoice! The 15th St. Railroad Experience Project was recently awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to relocate and renovate three historic train cars as part of the project’s multi-phase, multi-year initiative. The grant will ensure phase one of the project comes to fruition and is funded by the American Rescue Plan. When completed, the 15th St. Railroad Experience Project aims to revitalize a currently underutilized section of the downtown core that celebrates Cheyenne’s railroad heritage and paves the way for expanded events, commerce, and tourism. The project is a joint effort spearheaded between the City of Cheyenne and Visit Cheyenne.
“Cheyenne’s esteemed railroad heritage originates to our beginnings in 1867. This transportation lifeline that built Cheyenne still holds a strong place in the hearts of our residents and resonates with train enthusiasts around the world,” said Mayor Patrick Collins. “I recall the thousands of people who lined the Depot for the Big Boy No. 4014 christening ceremony and the excitement it injected into our community. I cannot wait for our 15th Street Railroad Experience Project to come to fruition and do the same. This grant is a big first step to make this grand idea a reality. Outside of what this project will bring from a tourism standpoint, I’m excited for our community and the opportunities it will bring for both local businesses and private investments to revitalize a part of our downtown core.”
“The travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation sector is a critical economic driver for many communities and the Economic Development Administration is pleased to support community-led development strategies designed to boost tourism and build a better America,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo in the department’s press release announcement. “This EDA investment in the Cheyenne Railcar Renovation Project leverages the region’s railroad heritage to diversify its local economy and spur economic development.”
The awarded grant of $618,400 will relocate three railcars – a historic locomotive, a business/passenger car, and a caboose – to the City-owned area along 15th St. Once relocated and renovated, each railcar will be on display as historic artifacts into Cheyenne’s past with the potential to serve the Cheyenne of today and tomorrow as space for retail, dining, and small business use. The grant will be matched with $154,600 in local funds and is expected to create nine jobs and generate $500,000 in private investment. Total cost for relocating and renovating the three railcars is estimated at $773,000.
“Railroad experiences were a major theme identified in the recent Laramie County Tourism Master Plan that was unveiled in June of 2020. To be at a point that funding is being allocated with the first phase of this project is so amazing,” said Domenic Bravo, CEO for Visit Cheyenne/DDA. “Thank you to the EDA, Union Pacific, Rudloff Solutions, all of the business owners on 15th Street, and the City of Cheyenne for making this impactful economic and tourism development project feasible.”
“This project will be a catalyst for economic growth in the downtown district. The EDA is focused on collaboration, private investment, and job growth, so we are thrilled they see our vision and the potential for 15th Street. I can’t wait to see these railcars once they are refurbished and open for business,” said City Grants Manager, Renee Smith.
The three railcars to be relocated and refurbished are:
- Union Pacific Steam Locomotive 1242
An 1890’s steam locomotive which has been a static display in Lions Park. The project involves lifting, loading, and moving the locomotive from Lions Park to 15th St. where it will be stripped down, asbestos abated, rebuilt, and repainted for static display on rails. The locomotive is 63-feet long, weighing 196,000 pounds.
- Southern Pacific business/passenger car 7077
This car will be moved from Cheyenne’s Union Pacific rail yard to 15th St. to be displayed with Locomotive 1242. This project involves stripping the car down for exterior and interior repainting, repairing and replacing any rotten wood and steel, and making the roof watertight. The 7077 is 85-feet long, weighing 140,000 pounds.
- Union Pacific 1959 Caboose 812
The project involves moving the car from Cheyenne’s Union Pacific rail yard to 15th St. Restoration will include exterior paint stripping, patch welding where required, and new interior and exterior paint. The caboose is 40-feet long, weighing 70,000 pounds.
The City currently owns Steam Locomotive 1242 and is working on an agreement with Union Pacific to transfer upwards of 15 railcars. The Southern Pacific business/passenger car 7077 and Union Pacific 1959 Caboose 812 account into that total. Transport of the three railcars is anticipated to begin in early 2023 with renovation work beginning shortly thereafter, weather permitting.
When completed, the 15th St. Railroad Experience Project will extend and connect to the Reed Ave. Corridor and West Edge District; both of which are in the process of their own revitalization efforts. The project also has the potential to integrate into the Greater Cheyenne Greenway that currently encompasses over 45 miles of 10-foot-wide concrete paths for connectivity throughout Cheyenne for recreation, transportation, and relaxation. Additional phases of the 15th St. Railroad Experience Project feature a potential pedestrian overpass connector to the Union Pacific roundhouse and potential renovation of the roundhouse into dining and meeting spaces. The City of Cheyenne and Visit Cheyenne have continued working in conjunction with building and business owners in the area to ensure the goals of the 15th St. Railroad Experience Project and private investments coincide.
The City held a work session for the 15th St. Railroad Experience Project on October 21st, 2021. A YouTube link to that work session can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJ490ERE4is&t=1s