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        End of Track: Impact of Transcontinental Railroad in Wyoming, Building a Capitol

        Students will identify and discuss the impacts of the first transcontinental Railroad line in Wyoming by identifying the causes of the settlement of the city of Cheyenne through historical documents, video clip and writing prompts.

        Lesson Summary

        GRADE LEVEL:

         Middle School/High School



        Four 50-minute class periods



        Students will identify and discuss the impacts of the first  transcontinental Railroad line in Wyoming.



        1.     Students will identify causes of the settlement of the city of Cheyenne.

        2.     Students will analyze and interpretvariety of historic documents, comparing and contrasting them with each other and provided secondary sources.

        3.     Students will understand the UP Railroad as a cause for the development of the city of Cheyenne and ultimately,the state of Wyoming.


        ·         Entry Ticket Copies - Click Here

        ·         Cornell NoteGuide - Click Here

        ·         Overview Article Industry, Politics and Power: Union Pacific in Wyoming, By Gregory Nickerson - Click Here

        ·         Highlighters or colored pencils for underlining

        ·         Two Cheyenne Photos and Worksheet - Click Here

        ·         Teacher Guide for Photo Worksheet - Click Here

        ·         Writing Prompts(or project via document camera) Click Here

        ·      Writing Rubric - Click Here 



        Copy Entry TicketsNote that there are 4 different tickets with different scenarios.  After entry tickets are copied, number tickets so that regrouping is quicker (i.e. if there are 5 copies of each scenario, number each scenario 1-5. Upon regrouping, direct all

         #1’s to gather, all #2’s in another area, etc.)  Distribute Entry Tickets’ as students arrive.Be sure to distribute similar numbers of each. Direct students to complete the writing task.  Upon student completion of the written paragraph, group students with the other students sharing the same scenario.  Have each student read aloud to their group the response paragraph. Have each group discuss their primary reasons for wanting/not wanting arrival of the railroad.  Students should take notes on the responses given by others in their group.  Re-group students into groups that include 1 person of each scenario.  Have each student present their paragraph to the mixed group.  Have students also share the reasons given by others in their scenario group. After each student has shared, have the groups discuss why each person might have had different view on the potential positive and negative influence of the railroad in their communities.  Teacher should listen to conversations to determine prior knowledge of Wyoming Settlement and westward expansion.  Collect and review paragraphs for content.




        Activity 1-

        Review Cornel lNote Taking. 

        Hand Out Cornell Notes Outline Sheet.Direct Students to take notes during the video clip using the note-taking guide.Play video

        Upon completion of the video, place blank note guide on a document camera.Using student work and examples complete a class version of the note sheet, allowing students to improve their own work. If acceptable student examples are available, place these on document camera as exemplars.


        Activity 2-

        Distribute copies of the overview article - 

        This article was edited and shortened for use with this lesson plan.  For full text please visit:

        Instruct students to read the article using underlining or highlighting techniques to mark important points, paying particular attention to portions that apply to the scenarios they wrote about at the beginning of the lesson.  Discuss the article’s main points.


        Activity 3-

        Distribute copies of Two Cheyenne Photographs and the accompanying worksheet.

        Have students complete the accompanying worksheet.  Teacher may opt to make this a small or larger group assignment to incorporate more observations and discussion of differences in the photos.Note that these photos are available digitally from the UW American Heritage Center and maybe more clear on line.


        Activity 4-

        Students will write an informative essay discussing early settlement of Cheyenne, Wyoming.  Essay length should be appropriate to the age and general skill level of the class. It is suggested that teachers collaborate with their English/Language Arts department and use common rubrics or use the attached rubric.  Distribute the writing prompt to students.


        Writing Prompt:  The location and development of the city of Cheyenne, Wyoming seems almost entirely accidental.Residents arrived as a result of Railroad construction and many left almost as quickly as they came, yet the city eventually grew into the State Capitol. Using information from the videoclip, the secondary source essay and the two primary source photos, summarize the early days of Cheyenne and discuss the possible reasons for its success.


        Have students return to their ‘Entry Ticket’ scenario groups. Direct students to discuss a revised response to the prompt based on newly acquired information.  Direct students to present their conclusions in a brief oral summary to the class.



        1.       Informal Assessment of Nickerson article discussion

        2.       Photo analysis Worksheet

        3.       Written response to writing prompt as scored by rubric

                4.       Informal assessment of oral  presentation/revised entry ticket responses

        Funder: This educational unit underwritten by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation

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