Spurs that jingle jangle – Exploring Cheyenne’s boot art & more

A tipi is part of the history and art shared at the Wyoming State Museum.

These boots are made for…art? With more than 35 boots scattered around town, Cheyenne, Wyoming, shares its history and culture through a public art campaign using eight-foot-tall boots decorated by regional artists. The boots are part of an impressive art scene in Wyoming’s capital city.

The project – “If this boot could talk, what story would it tell?” – was a joint effort between the Cheyenne Depot Museum Foundation and Downtown Development Authority. It started in 2004 as a fundraiser to improve the depot area from a parking lot to a plaza that people would want to visit.

During our time in Cheyenne, dozens of people posed for photos with boots while hanging out at the plaza.

Cowboy boot with train painted on it
Cowboy boot featuring the Union Pacific Railroad.

Boots we saw included artists’ interpretations of Union Pacific Railroad’s impact on the area, as well as the state’s Cowboy stories. The state’s reputation as a haven for outdoor enthusiasts is also highlighted. Other boots feature the history of Wyoming’s automobile license plates and governors.

While most projects of this type are one-time events, new cowboy boot statues have been added over the past two decades.

Cowboy boot with fish and other animals painted on it
Cowboy boot celebrates Wyoming’s wildlife.

The Depot Plaza also shares the city’s story through sculptures.

“A New Beginning,” located near the depot’s entrance, recognizes the impact women have had in Wyoming. Besides being the first state giving women the right to vote, it also had the country’s first woman governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, who served 1925-27. The statue was created by Veryl Goodnight in 2011.

Statue of woman from the 1800s in front of a train depot
Sculpture celebrates the impact of women in Wyoming.

“Iron Horse,” created using scrap metal from Union Pacific railroads, celebrates the rail company’s influence in the state.

Horse from scrap metal
Iron Horse is made from scrap metal found at Union Pacific yard and along tracks.

Statues, murals

Don’t stop at the boots; sculptures and murals can be found around the downtown area.

Across the street from Depot Plaza, “Rarin’ to Ride” features a young boy eager to saddle a horse. The sculpture by western artist George Lundeen celebrates Wyoming’s pioneer spirit.

Statue of little boy with saddle
A young boy carries his saddle in anticipation of riding a horse on the Wyoming plains.

“Dakota Wind” by Martha Pettigrew showcases a Native American wearing a blanket made from bison hide. The 2021 sculpture honors all people who have lived in Wyoming.

Statue of Native American woman wearing a buffalo hide blanket during winter.
Statue of Native American woman wearing a buffalo hide blanket during winter.

A visit to the state capitol offers a look into the state’s history through artwork.

Wyomingites’ historical struggles against the elements of nature are recognized with “Spirit of Wyoming,” a sculpture featuring a cowboy and his horse. Edward J. Fraughton was the artist.

Cowboy on a horse standing up
Spirit of Wyoming recognizes the elements of nature early residents had to live with as the state developed.

The Capitol’s east lawn features a solitary bison, created by Dan Ostermiller almost 40 years ago.

Bison statue
A bison statue stands on the capitol’s east lawn.

Murals have become popular in recent years as a way for communities to share history and points of interest, as well as pop culture. Cheyenne is no exception.

With dozens of wall art to explore, choosing a favorite mural may be challenging. For us, we liked a large downtown mural that welcomes visitors to the state.

Welcome to Wyoming mural
A mural at a downtown tavern greets visitors.

A favorite of mine was a mural celebrating nature, with a pronghorn antelope at one end and a blackbird perched in tall grass at the other end.

Painting of a pronghorn antelope
A pronghorn antelope peers out of a downtown mural.

“Live the Legend” recognizes Wyoming’s western history.

Mural of stage coach driven by horses
Cheyenne’s western spirit is noted with this mural.

Another mural offers a pop culture- style look at all-things Wyoming.

Colorful mural with bison head, fish and other wildlife celebrating nature
A colorful look at Wyoming and its offerings.

We enjoyed our art tour of Wyoming’s capital city. Along with a self-guided tour of the Capitol and lunch at the Albany Restaurant inside a historical hotel building, we only tasted a little of what the Cheyenne area has to offer. We will definitely plan a return visit.