By Dillon Thomas

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (CBS4) – Cheyenne Frontier Days is home to one of the largest historical collections of carriages thanks to decades of preservation and research by one woman. Marietta Dinneen, who is in her 90’s, has spent nearly all of her life researching, collecting, fixing and documenting hundreds of carriages.

Now, nearly 200 of them have a permanent home on the Cheyenne Frontier Days property thanks to Dinneen.

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“Each carriage tells a bit of history,” she told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “Each one of them has a story.”

For years many of the carriages, which are paraded during the annual CFD Rodeo, were stored under the grandstands of the rodeo arena. Outdoor elements caused damage to some and led many to deteriorate.

Dinneen stepped in to not only secure proper storage and restoration for the carriages, but also worked to document the history behind each one.

“(Before getting involved) there really wasn’t much information on them,” Dinneen said. “There’s now 171 in our collection.”

She has worked to provide information to the public on each carriage. She hopes the work will allow generations of Americans to reflect on the history of their ancestors.

“They’re old, and most of the people don’t know much about them,” Dinneen said.

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Many of the carriages are now housed in a museum on the CFD property and are accessible for a small fee most days of the week. School groups and tourists often visit the museum. Each year most are taken to the streets and paraded in July.

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The collection is one of the largest in the world. The collection is the largest active fleet in the world.

“Marietta has been vital in the preservation of our carriage collection. It preserves our history, it preserves our western heritage. It ties us to our roots,” said Ruthanne Hubbard, Parades Chairman at CFD. “It would have been impossible without her influence, knowledge and dedication. She’s a treasure to Cheyenne Frontier Days.”

Carriages include some of the first ambulances, milk deliveries, libraries, hearses and ice deliveries our nation ever had. Some of Dinneen’s own family relics are part of the museum as well.

While age may cause Dinneen to be slower in her step, it was obvious her mind could quickly draw the most small of details and historic values from each carriage as she simply walked by them.

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“This one was owned by my family. It went back a long time,” Dinneen said as she approached one of the carriages. “They would take the gas and oil out to ranches. But, now gas costs so much they probably couldn’t afford it.”

Dinneen has left a lasting impact on Cheyenne Frontier Days and the preservation of western history as a whole. Her commitment to the process has been recognized by the CFD staff as the new barn being retrofitted to house all carriages will soon be named after her.

One woman’s knowledge, persistence, dedication and vision has left a mark on history of its own.

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“It’s just kind of tearful. It is emotional,” Dinneen said.

Dillon Thomas