There’s a lot to see and do when visiting the Cheyenne / Laramie Wyoming area, but there’s more than a few hundred miles to go between now and Casa Grande, Arizona which is our target for November 1st. We knew we couldn’t see it all.
We talked with our good friends Matt and Sherry because they just spent a few months in this area volunteering at the Wyoming Historic Territorial Prison in Laramie and I knew they’d have some suggestions of where we might visit.
They enjoyed walking around downtown Cheyenne and visiting the Wyoming State Capital, the Wyoming State Museum, and other downtown landmarks along with taking in a visit to the Wyoming Frontier Prison in Rawlins.
Although the exercise we’d get walking around downtown would do us all a lot of good, I knew my knees wouldn’t last very long. We spent some time looking online at reviews and found a lot of wonderful reviews for Messenger’s Old West Museum. We decided to check it out.
We found it on the near east side of downtown Cheyenne just north of I-80/US-30 (the Lincoln Highway). What a great find it was!
This is a private collection of Charlie and Katie Messenger that’s just chock full of Old West-era carriages, saddles, models & memorabilia exhibited alongside mounts of bears & wolves. No, they did not hunt/kill any of the wild animals exhibited, they bought them all from other collections. They started their collection over 30 years ago and opened it to the public 20 years ago.
It’s tucked away in a residential / light commercial neighborhood where the Messengers operate their self-storage business. In fact, the entrance to the museum is the same place that storage customers go to pay their rent. The day we were there one of their employees (Marco) welcomed us and allowed us to start our self-guided tour. We were the only ones there and as we each were drawn to different displays, you could hear any one of us exclaim “Oh Wow! – Look at This!”.
What’s really great about this collection is the way all the items are displayed. It’s as if the owner secretly holds a degree in Museum Conservatorship or has received special training as a Museum Curator. It’s wonderful to read about what you’re looking at. Not just what it is, but where it came from, how the Messengers obtain the item, and the significance to their family.
The carriages are especially awesome. These are all REAL horse drawn carriages from the 1800’s old west that have been lovingly restored and/or rebuilt. The Messenger family has driven all of these carriages at one time or another and many of the antique automobiles too for participation in a parade or serving as props in television commercials advertising tourism in Wyoming.
The big burgundy colored carriage in the picture below (Overland Stage Line) is Buffalo Bill’s personal carriage and harness.
None of the items in the collection are replicas, they’re the real thing.
Marco told us that it’s too bad we came in early morning and Charlie (Mr. Messenger) wasn’t there yet. This has been a labor of love for the Messengers for many years and Charlie typically stops in daily to check up on the business and often chats with visitors about some of the displays giving the guests more insight on the history of the early west.
After our visit we (of course) stopped for lunch and afterward we were nearly back to our camp in Pine Bluffs when my cell phone rang. It was Charlie. He was hoping to catch us before we were out of town so that we could visit a while.
It wouldn’t work this time, but we’ll be sure to leave Messengers Old West Museum on our Bucket List for the next time we are anywhere near Cheyenne Wyoming. And you should too!
The museum is open Monday-Friday, 8:00am – 5:00pm, no admission charge, but donations are welcomed.
That’s all for now, but more to come … thanks for riding along. Take Care of yourselves and each other.
Herb & Kathy