Kriston Capps is a staff writer for CityLab covering housing, architecture, and politics. He previously worked as a senior editor for Architect magazine.
But it was hard to get a cup of coffee this morning.
TORRINGTON, WYO.—Bada Bean made its major mistake before Eclipse Day ever arrived.
The line of customers that snaked down the block outside nearby Java Jar was proof. Hundreds of eclipse-watchers descended on Torrington, Wyoming, early Monday morning, boosting the town’s population (6,501) by a not-insubstantial degree. All of them needed coffee, badly.
Of the two coffee joints in Torrington, one of them made the world-historic mistake to stay closed on Monday. Bada Bean, bada bust.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Joe Wilson, who was running one of two cash registers set up on the sidewalk by the Bread Doctor, a bakery. “We’ve got a staff of 20 today. Normally there’s a staff of four.”
Staff at the Bread Doctor found a crowd waiting outside before doors opened at 6:00 a.m.; a few hours later, the bakery celebrated its busiest day in two-and-a-half years in business.
Such were the stakes on Eclipse Day—easily a Super Bowl–scale mega-event for Wyoming, the state with the country’s smallest population. Not all got into the spirit: Some Torrington establishments posted firm warnings against parking or trespassing. But businesses that bet big on the eclipse made out like bandits. Vendors and shops downtown sold special eclipse swag, erected a tent with long tables for celestial tourists, and otherwise gave in to eclipse fever.
Meanwhile, the worst predictions failed to come to pass. While congestion along I-25 between Fort Collins, Colorado, and Cheyenne, Wyoming, looked uncharacteristically gnarly on Monday morning, traffic never amounted to that much more than steady on most roads leading north and east toward the band of totality stretching across the state.
That’s because Wyoming has been talking up the eclipse for weeks—even months. Drivers across Wyoming set out so early on Monday that the inevitable traffic stretched into pre-dawn hours.
As my colleague and fellow eclipse-watcher Laura Bliss also discovered over in Idaho, disseminating information early and often can help eliminate troublesome traffic conditions before they happen. The same kind of thing happened when Pope Francis visited Washington, D.C.—predictions of a Popemageddon didn’t materialize.
Same with Eclipsepocalypse: Wyoming dodged a mess, because people took the warnings to heart.