The Route: North Platte to Rock Springs

Pilots flying the mail cross-country in 1921 followed these directions to find landmarks along the way.

A light beacon tower (used for night flying) on the airmail field in North Platte, Nebraska in the mid-1920s. The field boundary light is visible in the right foreground. (NASM 00191470)

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499. Archer—A small town on the Union Pacific Railroad and 8 miles from Cheyenne.

458. Cheyenne—Can be identified by the barracks of Fort Russell. The Cheyenne field is three-quarters of a mile due north of the town and due north of the capitol building, whose gilded dome is unmistakable. The field, though rolling, is very large and landings may be made from any direction. A pilot landing here for the first time must “watch his step,” as the rarified atmosphere at this altitude (6,100 feet) makes rough landings the rule rather than the exception.

Cheyenne to Rock Springs


0    Cheyenne—Fly west over or to the north of Fort Russell, which is about 4 miles from town, following the Colorado & Southern tracks to the point where they bend sharply to the north.

12.    Federal—The first town on the Colorado & Southern Railroad after the railroad makes a sharp bend to the north. Fly about 6 miles south of Federal and leave the Colorado & Southern tracks about 1 mile north of the pronounced bend. The compass course, when there is no cross wind, is about 310˚. Cross Sherman Hills or Laramie Mountains at about 9,000 feet above sea level. Crossing this range of mountains the Laramie Valley appears, where landing fields abound.

40.    Laramie—On the Union Pacific double-tracked railroad. The largest town in the valley. Pass 6 miles to the north of Laramie.

60.    Rock River—On the Union Pacific, 20 miles north of the course. The double-tracked Union Pacific passes through 2 miles of snow sheds at this point.

80.    Elk Mountain—To the north of the Medicine Bow Range, a black and white range of mountains, the black parts of which are forests and the white snow-covered rocks. Elk Mountain is 12,500 feet high. Fly to the north of this conspicuous mountain over high, rough country. The Union Pacific tracks will be seen about 15 miles to the north gradually converging with the course.

114.    Walcott—Cross the S. & E. Railroad 2 miles south of Walcott. The S. & E. joins the Union Pacific at this point.

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