In November 1868, the first tent was pitched in what is now known as Evanston. Working their way Westward, surveying crews were clearing the path for the Union Pacific Railroad. Today, 150 years later, this railroad town is celebrating its anniversary.
The city’s name comes from James A. Evans. He was a surveyor working for the Union Pacific Railroad when the transcontinental railroad was being built. Due to his close relation to the chief engineer, the town was named after Evans when it was platted in 1869. The town quickly became a major factor for the railroad. As a result, coal mines were created to supply fuel and created jobs for the residents. A roundhouse and machine shop were also built for railcars and locomotives to undergo repair. Icing stations were needed to keep produce from the West chilled. Ponds nearby Evanston were used to make ice and was stored in “ice houses”. Needless to say, the boost of industry quickly gave way to thriving a town.
The Evanston Roundhouse and Machine Shop
The roundhouse and machine shop would become one of the major service points for the Union Pacific railroad. The buildings were built large enough to accommodate the locomotives. The roundhouse had 28 stalls for railcars and locomotives to pull into. It serviced the steam locomotives running between Green River, WY and Ogden, UT. In 1971, Union Pacific closed the complex. In the early 2000s, plans were made to make it a public building. Renovation work started on a few of the buildings and is now used for special events. These pieces of history will continue the heritage and legacy of this railroad town.
An American Hero Comes to Town
On May 29th, 1903, the 26th President of the United States of America came to visit. President Theodore Roosevelt was making a tour of the American West. Within an 8 week period, he visited 25 states and made 263 speeches. He stopped for 20 minutes in Evanston while he was headed East from Salt Lake City, UT. The town of 2000 people grew to 7000 that day. Folks from all over the West came to Evanston to hear him speak. As a result, this is yet another example of how the transcontinental railroad united Americans.
As the day came to a close, it was a good reminder to look at how far we have come. The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad was monumental to the United States of America. Furthermore, it boasted the American Dream along the way. The countless hours of work that it took to complete eventually lead our country to success. Evanston owes its roots to the railroad but created its very own legacy. Over the last 15o years, it has been the will of the people to keep moving forward. Being in the town today, celebrating these accomplishments was a humbling experience. It was a true reminder of what is possible when we come together and work together. May we not take it for granted and continue this heritage of this unique town of Evanston, Wyoming.