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Medicine Bow

 

Brian Beadles
Historic Preservation Specialist
(307) 777-8594

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  • Medicine Bow Depot

     

     
     

    Read All About It:

    Built in 1912-19, the Medicine Bow Depot is a classic example of the type of train station built in Union Pacific towns. While Medicine Bow's history seems to be inextricably linked to the book, The Virginian, and the romance of the American cowboy, in actuality Medicine Bow is a product of the railroad. Founded 20 years before author Owen Wister visited the town, Medicine Bow began as a general store and saloon in July 1868. Both structures anticipated the coming of the Union Pacific Railroad by a short time and when the railroad finally pushed across the Laramie Plains, a five-stable roundhouse, service facilities and a watering tank for the locomotives were built there. Medicine Bow developed into an important freight center and in 1912, after the first depot burned, the Union Pacific constructed a new one.

    This structure served the Medicine Bow area for 68 years until the railhead closed in 1981. The Medicine Bow Depot remains as a reminder of events and people which made a significant contribution to our history, and also embodies the distinctive characteristics of plains railroad construction at the turn of the twentieth century.

     
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    Date Added to Register:
    Monday, November 01, 1982
     
    Location:
    Medicine Bow
     
    County:
    Carbon County
     
    Smithsonian Number:
    48CR4469

     

  • Site 32 SL-O (Salt Lake – Omaha) Intermediate Field Historic District

     

     
     

    Read All About It:

    The Medicine Bow Intermediate Field, an emergency landing field located between major terminal points, was an integral part of Route T. the New York to San Francisco transcontinental airway. In the 1920s the Post Office began to construct a series of lighted airway beacons. The airway beacon system, albeit primitive and hampered by reduced visibilities, laid the groundwork for the modern Federal Airway system. Intermediate fields were to be improved as little as possible in keeping with the fluctuating design of the airway. Officially referred to as Site 32 on the Salt Lake to Omaha airway the Medicine Bow field was laid out to afford pilots the opportunity to land in any direction. Originally located one mile west of its present position, it was relocated circa 1929 to take advantage of the proximity to local utilities.

     
    Site32SLO

     

    Date Added to Register:
    Tuesday, February 28, 2012
     
    Location:
    Medicine Bow
     
    County:
    Carbon County
     
    Smithsonian Number:
    48CR9984

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Virginian Hotel

     

     
     

    Read All About It:

    The Virginian Hotel, constructed in 1911, is a freely adapted example of Renaissance Revival architecture in the Italian style located in the small town of Medicine Bow, Wyoming. Medicine Bow is the setting for perhaps the greatest of all Western novels, The Virginian, written by Owen Wister. Located in the Laramie Plains, a large expanse of grazing land in the Northwestern Plains, the town grew up as a railroad shipping point for cattle, sheep and wool. Before the arrival of the Union Pacific Railroad in June, 1868, Medicine Bow was the site of a tie operation, where logs and railroad ties cut in the Medicine Bow Mountains and floated down rushing mountain currents, gathered behind a boom stretched across the Medicine Bow River. With the addition of a water tank and roundhouse, the settlement became a permanent railroad station along a great transcontinental route.

    Author Wister, who crisscrossed Wyoming fifteen time in the years 1885-1902, borrowed scenes from the country around Medicine Bow for his book, which was written in 1902. The Virginian Hotel did not play a role in that book. August Grimm, who with George Plummer was responsible for building the hotel, may have had in mind the fame of that great American novel, but the hotel probably was not built to honor Wister or the hero of his novel.

    Although cowboys, as well as railroad workers needed a place to stay when they arrived in town, the hotel was built to serve a clientele from a much wider area. The significance of the Virginian Hotel rests upon its architecture and its role in local history. The Virginian stands as a physical landmark and as a commercial landmark in the town of Medicine Bow.

     
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    Date Added to Register:
    Monday, May 22, 1978
     
    Location:
    Medicine Bow
     
    County:
    Carbon County
     
    Smithsonian Number:
    48CR1196

     

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