What do you think about when you think about “The West?” Maybe cowboys, trains, buffalo, wide open spaces??? J and I experienced a full day of wild west nostalgia on board The Denver Post Cheyenne Frontier Days (CFD) Train. Thanks to The Denver Post we were thrilled to receive two tickets to the sold out 22nd annual event. The CFD train was a tradition from 1908 to 1970 and then brought back to life in 1992 by The Denver Post publisher Dean Singleton and has been going strong ever since. The train took us from Denver to Cheyenne, Wyoming where we attended the Cheyenne Frontier Days and The “Daddy of ‘em All” rodeo. Our day on the CFD Train was a day to be remembered and one we hope to be a part of again next year.
Since Union Station is currently closed for renovations, we met around 6am at the Denver Coliseum and took a shuttle to the nearby train. We were surrounded by cowboys, cowgirls, and hundreds of other guests dressed in their western best. We found our car, Car 6 – Sunshine Special, and climbed aboard. Our early morning started with breakfast on the train and then a 3 hour scenic ride to Cheyenne to the Frontier Days celebration. The train was led by Union Pacific’s steam locomotive No. 844, which has been in service since 1944.
At 7am sharp, the train whistle blew, and the locomotive wheels started turning. The excitement of the train was apparent as soon as we left the Union Pacific (UP) Rail Yard, with a crowd of onlookers waving the train good bye. As we traveled north towards Cheyenne, we were greeted by excited and waving crowds all along the tracks and at every train crossing and bridge. This annual train ride is an eagerly anticipated event, as it is one of the only passenger trains that frequents this set of tracks. It was truly special to be a part of this train ride and feel the excitement generated by the enthusiastic crowds waving us on.
Upon our arrival in Cheyenne, we were welcomed at the depot by a band and friendly town folk, just like in the old days! After touring the depot, we hopped on a bus, and headed to the Frontier Days grounds. We started our time in Cheyenne with the Behind the Chutes Tour of the famous rodeo arena and then enjoyed some Cheyenne history at the Old West Museum. By then it was noon, and we were ready for lunch. The Denver Post knows how to treat a guest, by providing all train riders with a big BBQ spread, dessert, and beverages, all inside a nice cool tent. During lunch, Colorado Governor Hickenlooper and Wyoming Governor Mead spoke and welcomed everyone to the festivities. With satisfied stomachs we explored Frontier Days and then went to The Daddy of Em All Rodeo to see buckin’ broncs, barrell racing, calf roping, the wild horse roundup, and of course bull riding. The Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo is the largest outdoor rodeo in the world.
With the close of the rodeo and storm clouds rolling in, it was time to head back to downtown Cheyenne to the train depot. The train was leaving promptly at 5:30 pm and dinner and drinks were waiting for us on board. We said “So Long!” to Cheyenne and enjoyed the evening ride back to Denver. The Dance Car (Car 8 – Council Bluffs) was the place to be, with a live western band and bar. There was so much excitement on board, that it was hard to say goodbye to our day on the CFD train when we reached the UP Rail Yard a little after 8pm. The CFD train is a great experience and attracts train enthusiasts from all over the country. We can’t wait to be a part of it next year, so mark your calendars for the 23rd Annual and ride with us on Saturday, July 19, 2014!