Cheyenne-Deadwood Stage Line: Postmaster follows stage trail
by Mary A. Shields, Herald Editor
Gary Sims, postmaster at the Newcastle Post Office for the past 18 months, came through Lusk on Thursday on his trek from Deadwood, S.D. to Cheyenne along the Cheyenne to Deadwood Stage Route - on his 10-speed bicycle.
Sims does some distance running and decided to undertake this project as part of the Wyoming Centennial commemoration by the post office. He was carrying special cancellations for the various post offices he stopped at. Included in his stops were Newcastle, Lusk, Lingle, Fort Laramie, Wheatland, Chugwater, Lodgepole Station and Cheyenne.
A prior project that Sims undertook was to climb to the top of Devil's Tower and do a special cancellation from there.
"After Devil's Tower, the Centennial Commission awarded me a Wyoming Centennial 100 pin, which they gave to people they felt contributed significantly to the state's Centennial. After that I looked around and decided I had to do something more. The Cheyenne and Deadwood Stage Line is right in my back yard," Sims said. He added that his wife, who is a nurse, tried to dissuade him from the trip. He is traveling by himself with no support crew.
Sims started from Deadwood on Wednesday, Sept. 19 and traveled to Newcastle. On Thursday, he left Newcastle around 7 a.m. and arrived in Lusk around 1:30 pm. He was then to travel to Lingle and then to Fort Laramie and take the back road from Fort Laramie to Gray Rocks over to Wheatland and then to Chugwater and the rest of the way to Cheyenne. He hoped to be in Cheyenne by 5 p.m. Friday if everything went well. He did not arrive in Fort Laramie in time Thursday afternoon to do the postmark, so went on to Guernsey. He left Guernsey Friday morning and hoped to arrive in Cheyenne by 5 pm. He was to take the back road to Gray Rocks and over to Wheatland.
Sims designed the postmarks for each of the stops. The postmark design features a stagecoach and each has the name of the nearest stage station along the Cheyenne to Deadwood Stage Line. It also features the state's bucking bronc and the dates 1890-1990 incorporated into it.
Lusk's postmark features the Hat Creek Stage Station and Lingle featured the Rawhide Butte Station. Fort Laramie featured the Old Bridge Station; and Wheatland, the Eagle's Nest Station. The Chugwater and Lodgepole Station postmarks featured stations near each of the stops. The postmark for Cheyenne will say Cheyenne WT for Wyoming Territory.
"When I designed the post mark, in talking to collectors, I learned that they like to have their stamp lightly touched," he said, adding that was taken into consideration when the postmarks were made.
Sims was a supervisor in Cheyenne for eight years and worked in the post office for several years before that.
"Cheyenne is a big operation. I had 60 people working under me. Now i have 12. It's really a nice job," Sims said.
"The good thing about a little post office is that people still care. There's pride. People feel bad when a mistake is made," he said.
Sims said one of the reasons he has done these promotional projects is to help give the postal service a more positive image in the state.