Medicine Bow is a really small town on the Lincoln Highway and the Oregon Trail, It’s history is as a bawdy town filled with bars, gunslingers and prostitutes. So much so that it inspired Owen Wister to write the novel, The Virginian, a story about western life, the Lincoln County Wars and the life of a ranch foreman he called The Virginian he placed it in Medicine Bow. I was able to gather much of Owen’s story from folks at the Medicine Bow museum. About 1884 Owen Wister suffered some sort of mental break resulting in vertigo, blinding headaches and hallucinations. His father had a friend in the “Wyoming Territory” and asked the friend if Owen could spend a summer on his ranch to recover, and all was arranged. Owen was met by the ranch foreman when he arrived on the train in Medicine Bow, and they proceeded north to the ranch somewhere near Jackson, Wyoming, a distance of maybe 200 miles. On the trip the foreman told Owen tales of the territory and the foreman’s adventures.Continue reading
I stopped at the Lincoln Monument a few miles east of Laramie, and highest point on I-80/US-30. The visitor center there has a lot of information about the Lincoln Highway. It gives all the credit for the Lincoln Highway to Henry Joy, the president of Packard Motor Company and the first president of the Lincoln Highway Association. There is no mention of Carl Fisher, the man who originally conceived the idea. Curious oversight.
While there I met Henrik Bjorklund, a Swede who with 5 others is driving his 1959 Chrysler Imperial from Florida to Alaska, then ferrying from Alaska to Seattle and driving to LA. The cars in the tour are all Detroit chrome and iron before 1961. These cars are beautiful and immaculately restored. Henrik told me that they found the cars in the US, shipped them to Sweden, restored them and shipped them back for these tours.Continue reading
I leave in the next few days for another 3-4 month trip into the great west. The only thing I know about this trip so far is I will follow the Lincoln Highway west from Iowa. If you want to follow along, there is an interactive map and a lot of information at the Lincoln Highway Association.
The Lincoln Highway was the first coast-to-coast route that started in Times Square and ended in Lincoln Park, San Francisco, passing through 14 states on the way.Continue reading
I spent time in two small towns, Missouri Valley Iowa and Cozad Nebraska. I stayed in their city park campgrounds and both experiences were great. These city parks are clean, safe and well kept… and inexpensive.
One of the reasons I like small towns and their parks is you come across truly interesting people and events. As it turns out Saturday night in Missouri Valley was the first dirt-track figure 8 race of the season. The eighth-mile track is a 5-minute walk from the Airstream.Continue reading
I camped by the Colorado River in the Red Rocks Gorge north of Moab. 1
The gorge is not as deep as some of other canyons, but the cliffs on both sides are nearly vertical through all of the 15 mile drive. You can’t get a feel of the size in the photographs. There are a couple of places along highway 128 where the cliffs overhang the highway. The downside of being at the bottom of a 2,000 foot canyon is that there is no cell service of any kind.Continue reading Notes
- I wish I could remember all the times I have camped by the Colorado. The two I do remember are Needles California and Laughton Nevada.
North Platte Nebraska is THE railroad town. It was created by Missouri Pacific, and the railroad still dominates the city. When Grenville Dodge was laying out the route for the first transcontinental railroad, he identified this location in central Nebraska as the ideal location for a routing, service and maintenance facility – the midpoint between Salt Lake and Omaha with plenty of land and water. When the track-layers reached the location, they built multiple tracks, sidings, work buildings and housing for the yard. The railroad brought over 100 workers to man it all. The place did not have a name, but soon acquired the moniker “Hell on Wheels”. It was established as North Platte in 1866 and became the western terminus of the transcontinental railroad in 1867 until the railroad was extended to Laramie.Continue reading