CHEYENNE – Cheyenne has a lot of history, which can make books that try to contain it big and cumbersome.

For that reason, a new trade paperback sized book, “A History Lover’s Guide to Cheyenne,” was recently published by The History Press.

“What we were trying to do is create a book that’s something that people could take with them, have it in a glove box, or maybe even in their satchel,” Michael Kassel, co-author and curator of the Cheyenne Frontier Days Museum, said. “As they’re walking around the city of Cheyenne, they’d be able to pull out this small book that I would say is more portable than many of the history books that have come before.”

The book, 133 pages in total, is divided into four sections, only one of which Kassel is responsible for. However, the third chapter, titled “Farther Afield,” is a relatively extensive 60 pages, and details the history of Cheyenne aviation, military, Cheyenne Frontier Days and other recreational activities.

It’s Kassel and co-author Starley Talbott’s third work together, and in preparation for it, they consulted a vast catalogue of Cheyenne and Wyoming history books. The trick of “A History Lover’s Guide to Cheyenne” is in condensing a plethora of detailed information from aging textbooks into one new, convenient package.

“For all intents and purposes, we did do as much original research as we could, but this is a book that we could not have written without being able to stand on the shoulders of people that came before us,” Kassel said.

The authors consulted some books that were written as long as 100 years ago, keeping in mind that Cheyenne has changed exponentially in just the past 50 years. While older information is certainly included, the book makes an effort to frame the information as it is relevant today.

The book almost serves as a compliment to another, more detailed local history book, “Cheyenne: A Sesquicentennial History,” released in 2017 by Rick Ewig. There was pressure to do Cheyenne’s history justice in such a small number of pages, but as far as Kassel is aware, “A History Lover’s Guide to Cheyenne” holds its own by keeping content concise, yet informative.

Accomplishing this, of course, was no simple task. For the last 13 years, Kassel has taught a course on the history of Wyoming at Laramie Country Community College, and he said it would be much easier to cover the history of Cheyenne over the span of an entire semester, rather than boil it down into one short book.

“I would say that this town has more history than many communities 10 times its size,” he said. “I think it’s one of the most important cities in the West. Because it has so many stories, it was difficult for Starley and me to make selections and choose those pieces that we thought would be most informative of people trying to learn about this.”

To tell Cheyenne’s history, they made a distinct visual choice. The book is filled with photography of historic landmarks both new and old, prevalent and hidden.

The majority of the photos came from the Wyoming State Archives and the Wyoming State Historical Society, but a section of modern color photography taken by Michael Dixon, on-site architect for the Wyoming State Capitol during its restoration, is particularly striking.

Including photos throughout each section not only tells a visual history to accompany the author’s information, but makes for a convenient narrative that almost replicates taking a walk through the city’s streets.

After writing multiple books on the state, Talbott is about as knowledgeable on the history of Wyoming as one can be. But even during this book, she opted for a “boots on the ground” approach, walking through the locations she was writing about to reorient herself.

In the process, she came upon locations in the city that she hadn’t previously known about, like the Buffalo Soldier statue in the park on 32nd Street and Randall Avenue. She was also introduced to the Humane Alliance Fountain, which used to stand at the intersection of 15th Street and Carey Avenue as a water source for horses and other animals. It was eventually relocated to Lakeview Cemetery.

Talbott’s hard work results in the remaining information found in “A History Lover’s Guide to Cheyenne,” although she and Kassel contributed to each other’s sections.

Inevitably, there are stories that Kassel and Talbot couldn’t squeeze into the pages of their book. There are simply too many to tell, and, for that reason, they both have a goal of continuing the series to inspire natives and newcomers alike to dive deeper into the city’s history.

“The other books were more on just one specific area that we researched, and this one covers so much more,” Talbott said. “This is quite an accomplishment, I believe, and I think it’s really a good contribution to Cheyenne history.”

Will Carpenter is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s Arts and Entertainment/Features Reporter. He can be reached by email at or by phone at 307-633-3135. Follow him on Twitter @will_carp_.

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