Torrington, Wyoming, hosted thousands of eclipse visitors today.
Torrington, Wyoming, got a lot more crowded today. Kriston Capps/CityLab

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.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. The facade of a casino in Atlantic City.
    Photos

    Photographing the Trumpian Urbanism of Atlantic City

    Brian Rose’s new book uses the deeply troubled New Jersey city as a window into how a developer-turned-president operates.

  2. Life

    Who’s Really Buying Property in San Francisco?

    A lot of software developers, according to an unprecedented new analysis.

  3. Transportation

    Will Ottawa Ever Get Its Light Rail?

    Sinkholes, winter-weary trains, and political upheaval have held the Confederation Line light-rail transit back from a seriously overdue opening.

  4. Design

    The Many Lives of Notre-Dame

    Far from being a single author’s definitive text, the beloved cathedral’s history is a palimpsest.

  5. Equity

    The Hidden Horror of Hudson Yards Is How It Was Financed

    Manhattan’s new luxury mega-project was partially bankrolled by an investor visa program called EB-5, which was meant to help poverty-stricken areas.