Olympic Torch Rolls Into Wyoming by Rail
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) _ Something’s not afoot on the Olympic Torch Relay.
The traditional form of transportation has been runners carrying the torch across the host countries. But this year’s torch run to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta has planes, trains and automobiles, and doesn’t stop there.
Other forms include a cable car in San Francisco, ferry across the Puget Sound, Pony Express in the Plains, canoe in Kansas, steamboat to Mark Twain’s hometown of Hannibal, Mo., and a 12,000-ton iron ore-carrying vessel across Lake Erie. Even a mule-drawn 40-foot packet boat gets into the act at Camillus, N.Y.
``This is not the first time where a variety of modes of transportation were used. What separates us is that no one else has done it on as large a scale,″ said Olympic spokeswoman Alexis Davis in Atlanta. ``We wanted the transportation modes to reflect the pages of the past; to reflect America’s history as well as the character of surrounding communities.″
For Wyoming residents, that means the ever-present railroad.
A specially built 19-car train will help carry the torch for about 3,500 of the 15,000-mile relay through 42 states in 84 days.
``The train portion is basically the western two-thirds of the country,″ said Union Pacific spokesman John Bromley. ``We’re going to help them get it over the wide-open spaces of Wyoming, for example.
``I’ve had people come up to us and say we never believed that the Olympic flame would come to our town and it’s wonderful that people like us can see it,″ he said. ``The train made that possible.″
The train departed Echo, Utah, on Saturday morning, day 16 of the torch relay. After whistle stops along the southern Wyoming towns of Evanston, Green River, Rawlins and Laramie, the train pulled into Cheyenne on Saturday night.
Greeting them will be 27 torchbearers from around the state, who will travel a 15-kilometer course _ by foot _ past the Capitol and through town.
Those runners don’t seem to mind taking the torch handoff by rail.
``As far as the way it’s brought in, that doesn’t bother me at all,″ said James Gardner, a Cheyenne physical education teacher and ``community hero″ torchbearer. ``Just to be part of the Olympics has been a lifelong dream.″
An American Indian cultural presentation will kick off the Cheyenne festivities, which also include speeches by the mayor, secretary of state and governor.
The torch was scheduled to stay overnight and leave the state Sunday morning.