This Was Once The Most Dangerous Town In Wyoming
At one time this little Wyoming town had a shooting a month, on average.
That's a lot when you consider the size of the town.
So how does one of Wyoming's smallest towns become its most dangerous?
In 1869 the Union Pacific Railroad began construction there.
Coal was found in the area, the train would need plenty of that.
The nearby river provided the water the steam trains would need.
Because of Indians in the area, who wanted the white man out, there were actually more calvery in the town of Medicine Bow than citizens.
Let's add this up:
Medicine Bow was home to cavalrymen, cattlemen, sheepherders (sheep & cattle men did not get along at all), coal miners, railroad workers, and Indians who wanted their land back.
Well, get a bunch of roughneck men together out in the middle of nowhere, and bad things are bound to happen.
No wonder Medicine became one of the roughest towns in the old West.
Gunfights were common and there wasn't any actual lawman in town.
Ever wonder how the town of Medicine Bow Wyoming got its name?
Me neither, but it's an interesting story, nonetheless.
Before the white man showed up the area was known among the local tribes as a good place to find what was needed to make bows and arrows.
Anything that was useful or good was called "good medicine." So they called the place Medicine Bow.
Told you it was interesting.
Popular novelist Owen Wister came to Medicine Bow looking for inspiration. He stayed two weeks and wrote his greatest best seller.
1902 novel by the American author Owen Wister (1860-1938), set in Wyoming Territory during the 1880s. It describes the life of a cowboy on a cattle ranch and is considered the first true fictional western ever written, aside from short stories and pulp dime novels, though modern scholars debate this. The Virginian paved the way for many more westerns by such authors as Zane Grey, Louis L'Amour and several others. The novel was adapted from several short stories published in Harper's Magazine and the Saturday Evening Post between Nov 1893 and May 1902. (Wikipedia).
The novel also became a movie and a television series.
The town became a bit busier when the first coast-to-coast highway, Lincoln Highway, came through town, following the railroad.
Medicine Bow has never been an attractive town, sorry to say. Even novelist Owen Wister pointed that out in the opening lines of this novel. But it is interesting.
If you want to get a feel for the remoteness of the Wild West, you'll see and experience it at the semi-ghost town of Medicine Bow, Wyoming.
In the heart of the town, the Virginian Hotel is a beautiful "Belle" of its day, still furnished as it was when the town was busy and famous.
Guests are always welcome for overnight stays and for great meals in an old-town atmosphere.
The museum in the old train depot is a joy to visit, with so many things to see along with antiquities of the past.
The old "Fossil Cabin" is a really unique attraction to see, being relocated closer to town, and is made up mostly of thousands of dinosaur bones!
Let's not forget the town's important contribution to aviation:
This humble little grass airstrip helped shape America.
In the video below, you will see what this important airport looks like today.
As if the Pony Express wasn't daring enough, next came the brave and slightly foolhardy men who first took the mail to the sky.
Using old and not-so-reliable World War I surplus planes, the United States Postal Service was determined to figure out how to fly mail from coast to coast saving up to a month of travel time if they were successful.
At the little Medicine Bow airport there is a cement arrow, pointing the flyers to their next stop. These arrows were placed across the nation for the pilots to see and follow from the air.
The only way to navigate was to fly low and follow the Union Pacific railroad tracks across the country and across Wyoming. The video below will show you what sort of airports they were looking for.
Cheyenne, Medicine Bow, Rock Springs, and other towns along the route were refueling and repair points on the map.
Many planes crashed, for any on a long list of reasons. Some men died.
The book "Wyoming Air Mail Pioneers" chronicles the men who were legends, heroes, and celebrities of their time. They had several stories written about them in newspapers across America.
Ask for it at your local Wyoming bookstore or order it online.
VIDEO OF MEDICINE BOW AIRPORT.
Medicine Bow Wyoming Road Art
Gallery Credit: Glenn Woods
Almost Forgotton Wyoming Cemetary
Gallery Credit: Glenn Woods