Interstate 80 winds its way up and east from Laramie, through a canyon that locals call “Telephone Canyon.” But the canyon was used long before the telephone.
There is no doubt that some of the earliest residents of Laramie were just passing through. Exactly one year after Laramie was founded, the two great railroads, the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific, met at Promontory, Utah on May 10, 1869. The great migration to California could now begin by rail.
In Wyoming towns like Laramie, new styles in furniture, wallpaper and accessories came via railroad; city dwellers with the money to spend could have homes that looked a lot like those east of the Mississippi. But for ranches, hunting lodges and rural second homes in the west, a more rustic style gained favor in the late 1800s and has persisted.
In the 1920s, a Laramie Kiwanis Club member had an idea to develop a picnic area with a water fountain in Telephone Canyon. At that time, the “Lincoln Highway” was mostly unpaved, but the route through the canyon was the “improved” road to Laramie from Cheyenne, as opposed to the former auto route to Tie Siding and then back up to Laramie.
There is an unmistakable sound a steel blade makes on solid ice—and an unmistakable smell of potatoes baking in their jackets in the coals of a big bonfire. Add the laughter of young people as they glide by teasing each other and you have the makings of an ice skating party—1870’s style, along the Laramie River.