In 1928, the US Congress authorized an agricultural experiment station on 2,140 acres of land near Cheyenne, Wyoming. There, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was directed to establish the Cheyenne Horticultural Field Station, to test and propagate fruit plants, fruit trees, flowering trees, shelterbelt trees, shrubs, and vines that would be well-adapted to the conditions and needs of the semiarid or dry land regions of the U.S.
The first plantings were made in 1930, and the building construction was completed in 1931. It was a huge project, and the manpower to establish and maintain the Field Station came from residents of the area and members of the Conservation Civilian Corp. Under the direction of the Station’s first superintendent, Dr. A.C. Hildreth, who oversaw the operations from 1930 until World War II, a collection of over 20,000 Horticultural species and varieties was developed! Many were native plants from the American West, and others were collected from Asia and Europe by USDA plant explorers, including the well-known P.H. Dorsett.