courtesy Laramie Historic Railroad Depot
Published October 01, 2017
The smokestacks loomed in the distance that morning of May 4, 1868, tracing the freshly laid tracks of the Union Pacific Railroad up and over the mountains that connected the Wyoming towns of Laramie and Cheyenne. The looming sound of a locomotive whistle announced the arrival of the first train to enter the brand-new station and marked a new chapter for the then sparsely populated Laramie Plains.
The station continued to grow in popularity until October 17, 1917, when a fire destroyed most of it, leaving only one section, the women’s waiting room, to act as the passenger depot for the next seven years. The need for a new station was evident with the growing number of passengers arriving each month, and on October 6, 1924, a new station was constructed to serve Union Pacific customers, offering the finest modern amenities that even the most discerning 1920s traveler could desire.
The train station became an icon in the town, and through the efforts of local citizens, the station survived the next decades, transforming into a community center after train service to Laramie ceased in 1997. The station stands today as a reminder of Laramie’s significant railroad heritage; a group of volunteers maintain and operate the space as a railroad museum and the Depot rental hall.
Much has changed since the arrival of that first train, but the locomotive legacy continues full steam ahead at the Laramie Historic Railroad Depot through the events and meetings held within its walls. The Depot is available for small groups to rent for private parties, meetings and weddings. Its large main concourse is divided into smaller sections by the station’s small partition. Reservations are available seven days a week throughout the year, and the meeting’s staff regularly updates the rental schedule online, so it’s easy to plan events.
Meeting guests frequently remark about the wonderful feeling of walking back in time to Laramie’s golden railroad era the minute they arrive at the former station, and the connection they make within the walls is one that stays with them long after they depart.
The Laramie Historic Railroad Depot was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, and the entire building has been carefully preserved. Original Union Pacific shields still mark the east- and west-facing facades of the exterior. Inside, the space opens up with high windows and vintage lighting hung from Craftsman-style ceilings. Dark wooden beams bring the eyes upward while tile flooring guides guests through the open floor plan. The South Side of the main concourse can hold up to 209 guests, and the slightly smaller North Side on the other side of the small partition is able to accommodate up to 178 guests.
Although the Laramie Historic Railroad Depot does not provide food, its on-site kitchen — complete with microwaves, sinks, a refrigerator and freezer, and multiple outlets for appliances — makes it easy to prepare and serve meals for any size gathering. Groups can select a caterer of their choice, and the city of Laramie offers an ever-growing list of reputable caterers and chefs, most notably the Chef Without a Kitchen, Pioneer Bar-B-Que and Catering, and Altitude Chophouse and Brewery’s Catering Department. Alcohol is allowed through licensed providers.
While at the depot, guests can check out the railroad memorabilia on display inside the building or head outdoors to gaze up at the authentic snow train adjacent to the Union Pacific’s mainline. The snow train was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013 and has become a must-see of Laramie’s historic sites. For more railroad history, guests can make a short trek out to the Ames Monument, a structure built by the Union Pacific Railroad Company to mark the highest elevation — 8,247 feet — of the original transcontinental route. The monolithic 60-foot-high granite pyramid dates to 1882 and was announced as a National Historic Landmark on November 2, 2016.
The Laramie Historic Railroad Depot has an inventory of tables and chairs available for meetings groups to use during events. The depot offers a selection, including 15 five-foot-diameter round tables, eight six-foot-long rectangular tables, three five-foot-long rectangular tables and approximately 120 chairs. The depot also features a food preparation kitchen on-site for groups to use during their time in the depot, and the space includes access to sinks, a refrigerator and freezer, two microwaves, multiple outlets for appliances, and ample counter space for preparation or potluck-style serving.
Laramie Historic Railroad Depot
Location: Laramie, Wyoming
Type of Venue: Off-site, Museum
Nearby Accommodations: Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott