Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Roughing It

When history comes to life!


September 14, 2017

I am a big history person, at least family history and things that are near and close to my heart. Like I have said before, I grew up in Laramie and have spent a lot of time north of Laramie, up in the Medicine Bow area.

There are so many historical places in Laramie and Medicine Bow. Just to name a few, there is the Ivinson Mansion, Wyoming Territorial Prison, Laramie Plains Civic Center, parts of the University of Wyoming Campus, and the Cavalryman Steakhouse. Some in Medicine Bow are the Virginian Hotel, Owen Wester Cabin, Medicine Bow Museum, again ,like I said, just to name a few.

History is a huge part of a community and bringing more people into the community. Tours, ghosts, stories - the good and the bad, are all a part of the building and its long life.

I remember growing up listening to stories of all of these places from my parents and grandparents. The Territorial Prison gives tours, as well as the Ivinson Mansion. In the Virginian Hotel some rooms are still available to stay the night in.

Quick back story on some of these places for those of you who haven’t had the chance to visit. The Ivinson Mansion, which is now known as the Laramie Plains Museum, was built in 1892 by Jane and Edward Ivinson. In 1867 the Ivinson’s moved to California but Edward left first and by early 1868 he had made the decision to do some temporary business in a place that eventually became Laramie Wyo., which at that time was Dakota Territory. In 1972, the 11,726 square foot home was acquired by the Laramie Plains Museum Association after years of neglect, and has been used as a museum and an events center. This house is absolutely beautiful, the amazing architecture that went into this house is mind blowing.

Wyoming Territorial Prison, was built in 1872. The prison was operated as a federal penitentiary from 1872-1890, then became a state prison from 1890 into the early 1900’s. It was then transferred to the University of Wyoming and used as an agricultural experiment station until 1989. In 1991 the prison was opened to the public.

During its time of holding prisoners, the Territorial Prison had 1,050 men and 13 women pass through the iron doors. One of the most notorious of all the convicts was Butch Cassidy. Cassidy was housed in The Wyoming Territorial Prison from 1894-1896 for stealing horses and is the only prison to ever hold him.

This is such a great place to take a tour and to check out the exhibits. These are some of my favorites: tA blacksmith exhibit, where you can actually watch blacksmiths work. Tours of the cells and parts of the prison give you the chilled feeling and you can just see the history and some of the events that took place there in the past.

Virginian Hotel in Medicine Bow Wyo.-the Virginian hotel reminds me a lot of this community’s beloved Wheat Growers Hotel, in the fact that it is a big, beautiful building that was so fancy during its time.

Construction on the hotel started in 1901 and was finished in 1911, the hotel is named after the famous novel that was written about Medicine Bow, The Virginian by Owen Wister. The hotel was said to be the biggest hotel between Denver and Salt Lake City. I think one of the best things about this hotel is that it has been kept up and used for over 100 years-rooms, restaurant, bar, all of it.

One of our favorite things to do as kids was to “go upstairs” once we finished our lunch every time we ate there, which was a lot by the way. But you can go up to the hotel rooms and it just gives you that chilled feeling again and you feel that you can see everything at one time. When you go up stairs the rooms are still antique.

If you are looking for a weekend get-a-way, I highly suggest heading west a couple hours to see some of these amazing buildings and the history that still resides there.


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