Grant to help renovate railcars for the 15 St. Railroad Experience project

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (PRESS RELEASE) – Train lovers rejoice! The 15th St. Railroad Experience Project recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to relocate and renovate three historic rail cars as part of the project’s multi-year, multi-phase initiative. The grant will ensure the completion of the first phase of the project and will be funded by the American Rescue Plan. Upon completion, the 15th St. Railroad Experience Project aims to revitalize a currently underutilized section of downtown that celebrates Cheyenne’s railroad heritage and paves the way for expanded events, commerce and tourism. The project is a joint effort led by the City of Cheyenne and Visit Cheyenne.

“Cheyenne’s esteemed railroad heritage dates back to our beginnings in 1867. This 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 remember the thousands of people who lined up at the Depot for the christening ceremony for Big Boy #4014 and the excitement it created in our community. I can’t wait for our 15th Street Railroad Experience project to come to fruition and do the same. This grant is an important first step towards realizing this great idea. Apart from what this project will bring from a tourism perspective, I am excited about our community and the opportunities it will bring for local businesses and private investment to revitalize part of our downtown.

“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 America better,” the assistant secretary of commerce for the economy said. 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 move three cars – a historic locomotive, a business/passenger car and a caboose – into the city-owned area along 15th Street. Once moved and renovated, each rail car will be displayed as historical artifacts in Cheyenne’s past with the potential to serve the Cheyenne of today and tomorrow as retail, dining and small business space. . 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. The total cost of moving and renovating the three cars is estimated at $773,000.

“Railway experiences were a major theme identified in the recent Laramie County Tourism Master Plan which was unveiled in June 2020. To be at a point where funding is being allocated for the first phase of this project is so incredible,” said Domenic Bravo, CEO of Visit Cheyenne/DDA. “Thank you to the EDA, Union Pacific, Rudloff Solutions, all 15th Street business owners, and the City of Cheyenne for making this high-impact economic and tourism development project possible.”

“This project will be a catalyst for economic growth in the downtown core. EDA is focused on collaboration, private investment, and job growth, so we’re thrilled they see our vision and the potential of 15th Street. I look forward to seeing these cars once they are renovated and open for business,” said Renee Smith, city grants manager.

The three wagons to be moved and renovated are:

  • Union Pacific Steam Locomotive 1242

An 1890s steam locomotive that has been on static display at Lions Park. The project involves lifting, loading and moving the locomotive from Lions Park to 15th Street where it will be disassembled, asbestos removed, rebuilt and repainted for static display on the tracks. The locomotive is 63 feet long and weighs 196,000 pounds.

  • South Pacific Business/Passenger Car 7077

This car will be moved from the Union Pacific Cheyenne Yard to 15th Street for display with locomotive 1242. This project involves dismantling the car for repainting outside and inside, repairing and replacing all rotten wood and steel and to make the roof waterproof. The 7077 is 85 feet long and weighs 140,000 pounds.

  • 1959 Union Pacific 812 caboose

The plan is to move the car from the Union Pacific yard in Cheyenne to 15th Street. The restoration will include exterior paint stripping, patch welding if necessary, and interior and exterior repainting. The caboose is 40 feet long and weighs 70,000 pounds.

The city currently owns steam locomotive 1242 and is working on a deal with Union Pacific to transfer over 15 cars. The Southern Pacific 7077 business/passenger car and the Union Pacific 1959 Caboose 812 count towards this total. Transport of the three cars is expected to begin in early 2023, with renovations to begin shortly thereafter, weather permitting.

When completed, the 15th St. Railroad Experience project will expand and connect to the Reed Ave corridor. and in the West Edge District; both of which are in the process of their own revitalization efforts. The project also has the potential to fit into the Greater Cheyenne Greenway which currently includes over 45 miles of 10-foot-wide concrete paths for connectivity across Cheyenne for recreation, transportation and recreation. Additional phases of the 15th St. Railroad Experience Project include a potential pedestrian overpass link to the Union Pacific roundhouse and a potential renovation of the roundhouse into dining and meeting spaces. The City of Cheyenne and Visit Cheyenne have continued to work with area building and business owners to ensure that the goals of the 15th St. Railroad Experience Project and private investment align.

The City held a working session for the 15th St. Railroad Experience Project on October 21, 2021. A YouTube link to this working session can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJ490ERE4is&t= 1s

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