Cheyenne, WY, has always been a city full of ambition. With its beginnings fixed in the railway, its population began to increase significantly between 1870 and 1882. Back then, Cheyenne was not known for its vegetation, and many of our city’s new settlers longed to create a greener community out of this desert prairieland. One of Cheyenne’s new inhabitants set out to do exactly that.
James Floyd (“Flood” – sic.) Jenkins migrated to Cheyenne in 1876. Missing the well-established tree canopies of his home state of Wisconsin, Mr. Jenkins set out to make his new home on the plains into a city of trees. He, along with several other recognized store owners, called on the citizens of Cheyenne to help bring this goal to life.
By 1882, Mr. Jenkins had helped establish Cheyenne’s first official Arbor Day. This event encouraged citizens to purchase or donate funds to plant trees across several city blocks, and it was a success! More than 250 trees were planted (including some of the Cottonwoods we still see today) to create a green oasis in the downtown area. Cheyenne citizens then rallied together to care for and cultivate these trees, ensuring their successful growth.
Over the years, Mr. Jenkins continued his work through the city and its affiliates, helping create parks and plant trees in order to establish a healthy tree canopy. He managed to plant over three miles of trees on streets within the city, as well as in what would eventually become F.E. Warren Air Force Base; he was appointed to a city tree program initiative; and, in 1902, he created the first official tree-planting program in Cheyenne. Dubbed the Citizens Tree Committee, this committee was an integral part in creating the tree canopy that we love and enjoy today.
Mr. Jenkins committed his life to establishing Cheyenne as a city of trees. This ambition has since inspired many after him, including us, to successfully re-establish the program he held so dear to his heart.