Medicine Bow mile post 624.5.
Medicine Bow started as a railroad station and cattle town, but later, it was made famous by Owen Wister's novel, The Virginian. By 1924, the Lincoln Highway guide listed Medicine Bow with a population of 300. The town had two hotels, two garages, two banks, Union Pacific railroad express company, one telephone company, free camping and good trout fishing.
By 1941 the town was "a supply center for livestock-raising and oil-drilling interests" with a population of 264. The Virginian Hotel and Owen Wister are mentioned, with the addition of side trips to the left for a magnesium sulfate and bentonite deposit and an oil well, to the right for the Petrified Forest and the Epsom Salt Beds, then on through Hanna, Coyote Springs, and Parco to Rawlins.
Medicine Bow fared well on US Highway 30, but barely managed to survive the bust of being bypassed by the Interstate in 1972. The heavily traveled highway 287 north to Casper helped. Despite the drop in highway travelers, Medicine Bow boomed in the late 1970s from increased coal production at nearby mines to the west and the uranium deposits north of the town.
The 1991 Rand McNally Road Atlas listed a population of 853. The Virginian Hotel, the Union Pacific Depot museum and the Owen Wister log cabin moved in from Jackson Hole show the town still capitalizes on Owen Wister's story and the town's picturesque cowboy image to aid its survival before and after being bypassed by the road.
Last Update 07/22/01
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