Medicine Bow, like many other towns across southern Wyoming, was established as a result of the construction of the transcontinental railroad in 1868. The railroad located a tie boom on the nearby Medicine Bow River and built a depot, water stop, and coal-loading facility. Later, livestock loading-pens were built and Medicine Bow became an important livestock shipping center. The first load of cattle shipped to the Union Stockyards in Omaha came from the Medicine Bow area. The town grew up around the railroad facilities. In the middle 1880s, Philadelphia lawyer Owen Wister stopped in town and wrote a description in his journal. He later used the historic setting of Medicine Bow as a backdrop for his novel The Virginian, which is considered to be the first novel of the “Western” Genre. In the early 1900s Medicine Bow was one of the automobile stops on Old Lincoln Highway (Junction of Hwys 30/287 and 487). August Grimm built the Virginian Hotel to accommodate travelers. In the early 1970s, the town suffered as a result of the opening of Interstate Highway 80 that bypassed the town, some 35 miles to the south. The town experienced an economic boom in the middle 1970s when uranium mines opened north of town and coal mines west of town expanded production. The original Union Pacific Depot burned in the early 20th century, but it was replaced. In 1978, ownership of the building was transferred to the City of Medicine Bow and the town museum was started in the structure. Two years earlier, as a bicentennial project, local civic groups helped relocate the Owen Wister Cabin, built by the Wister family in the Grand Tetons in northwestern Wyoming, to a site next to the depot. David L. Roberts (b. Lusk, Wyoming, 1954) founded the Medicine Bow Post newspaper in 1977, editing and publishing the newspaper until the early 1990s. Medicine Bow is one of the windiest places in America. South of town, the first experimental giant wind turbines in Wyoming were built under contract from the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation in the early 1980s. Utility-operated wind farms provide electricity from windy points near Medicine Bow. In December 2007, plans were announced for construction of a large coal gasification plant to be built southwest of town. Completion date is estimated for 2014 as of April 2011 construction will begin on the concrete pad. Expected temporary works to the town is 1500, when the plant is complete they will need 450 workers to operate the plant. The town recently celebrated its 100th anniversary of incorporation June 26, 2009.
Sometimes all it takes is getting out the door before the sun rises and the moon sets … there is so much beauty around us, isn’t there?