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Virtual Exhibits

Hell on Wheels: Union Pacific Towns in Wyoming

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Keystone Dance Hall, Laramie, 1868

W.O. Owen moved to Laramie with his family when he was nine years old. He later recalled the town’s beginnings. “On the 10th of May, 1868, five weeks previous to our arrival, the first train had arrived in Laramie; and in addition to a goodly number of respectable, law-abiding people who came thereon, there arrived also a large number of the toughest characters that ever drew the breath of life. Bar room bums, thugs, garroters, holdups, thieves, and murderers from railway towns to the eastward were passengers on that train, and the doings of this mob of criminals from [sic] a thrilling page in the history of Laramie….”

He also remembered the family’s Laramie home, located across the street from a dance hall. “All day and night without cessation dancing was in full swing, the women portion of the dancers being the lowest of the low-camp followers who had followed the railway since its inception…”

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