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Traveling Around - Cheyenne, Wyoming - Museum of the West
My brother was having a 70th birthday and we were on a long trip from central Michigan to Portland, Oregon, to help him celebrate. It was to be a surprise celebration. Other members of the family were flying in and we were to meet them in Portland. We were traveling by car. On a leg of the trip west that would take us from Ogallala, Nebraska, to Evanston, Wyoming, we passed through Cheyenne, Wyoming. On the spacious grounds of the Cheyenne Frontier Days is the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. We had contacted the museum earlier to inquire about hours and found we could make it a break in the trip and stop there for a visit. The museum is a stand alone museum that is behind the Cheyenne Frontier Days Grandstands and Rodeo Grounds. It is dedicated to the memory and tradition not only of the old West but of the current Cheyenne Frontier Days.
Positioned near the parking area is a large elegant statue of a rider on a bucking horse. It is an indication of the the displays that a visitor will find in the museum and a tribute to the men and women of the rodeo. In the attached picture the rodeo arena is to the left and a couple hundred yards away. The main entrance to the arena is on the further side and is not easily accessed from the museum. Conversely, it is also not easy to access the arena from the museum.
The Museum Proper
As you enter the front door of the museum, there is a reception area. The admissions desk is on the right and a large gift shop is on the left. We stopped at the admissions desk and explained that we had contacted someone a month ago and they told us they'd leave passes for us at the desk. The weather beaten older man politely told us that he didn't have any passes there and called the office. After a he had a conversation on the phone with an office somewhere, he welcomed us and sent us on into the museum.
The initial room is circular and immediately to the right is a memorial to the Irwin Family and the Irwin Brothers Wild West Show which was the forerunner of the Cheyenne Frontier Days. Around the outside several there are several unique wagons and carriages. The center of the room is devoted to history of Cheyenne including a large 3' x 7' or so picture of Cheyenne in 1882. There was a group of school children touring the museum and they were enthralled with a prairie wagon that would be pulled by oxen. They were clambering over it and getting their pictures taken.
The Museum annually holds several childrens' programs. Two of the more popular are the Kids' Cowboy & Cowgirl Camp which is a day camp held in June from 9-5 daily. The second is the Kids' Western Art Camp held in August from 1-5 daily. There are charges to attend these camps.
Interactive learning displays and other hands-on activities await visitors of all ages into our wildly popular kids room. Whether you're a young cowpoke looking to try your hand at roping or a young cowgirl wanting to try your hand at hide painting or other crafts, the CFD Old West Museum offers a safe, family friendly environment in which visitors of all ages can learn about our region's western heritage. The kids room remains open daily and is available for party rentals for birthdays.
This area gradually leads into a room that presents a history of the many stars of the Frontier Days. In the corner of the room is a big screen surround sound video program devoted to the excitement of the rodeo. It is in 3 segments that are: activities such as bull fighting, chuckwagon races, and wild horse racing, a tribute to Lane Frost, and a segment on the girls of the rodeo. The activities segment is filled with excitement and cowboys showing more courage than intelligence as they attempt to subdue the wild animals of the west. Shortly after we settled in to watch the videos, the touring school children came in and were noisy. The chaperones made a valiant effort to control them but we gave up and moved on through the museum.
Tribute To Lane Frost
In a hallway that leads to a very large gymnasium like room there is statuary and tributes to Lane Front. Lane Frost was a PRCA world champion bull rider. Lane Frost was born in 1963 and began competing in rodeos beginning in 1974 in the "Little Buckaroos Rodeos" held in Utah. Two of his many career highlights were winning the 1987 World Cambpionship in Bull Riding, and being the only bull rider to ever ride the famous bull Red Rock for 8 seconds. After a succssful 8 second ride in 1989 at the Cheyenne Days Rodeo, Lane dismounted from the bull. The bull quickly pivoted, came up being Lane and hit him twice before Lane even had to a chance to completely stand up from his dismount. The second time the bull hit him with his horn, it broke Lane's ribs, which severed a main artery. Lane died within moments.
He was a Christian gentleman and it was said "Once you met Lane, you were his friend forever."
Wagons and Carriages of the West
This large room holds a large display of wagons and carriages from the west. It is the largest display west of the Mississippi and the 3rd largest in the United States. There are 168 wagons in the display. It includes such unusual ones as a “Sheep Wagon” which was the forerunner of the RV which has living accommodations of a sort that men who herded the sheep in the mountains using for shelter, a bookmobile, a post office wagon, a stagecoach, and a hearse.
This leads into a hall with a statuary and painting exhibit. There are probably 15 sculptures and 40 or 50 paintings depicting various aspects of western life of years ago.
The Museum conducts an annual Western Spirit Art Show during March and early April of each year. It is a juried art show and attracts artists from throughout the world. In mid July, the Museum sponsors the Western Art Show & Sale which is a one evening show and features western and wildlife artists in paintings, sculptures, wood and alabaster carvings and Navajo weavings. The event joins and evening of dinner and dancing with the display and sale of major art works.
We spent about an hour at the museum and if we had watched all of the video presentations could have spent another hour or so. A very enjoyable journey into the past. Admission is charged. There is a discussion of the hours and admission on the internet at their website.