Thursday, August 7, 2008

Wyoming Memories

Paul Fultz relaxes on his ranch at Como Bluff near Medicine Bow. Paul had Apaloosas, and my kids used to love to go up there and visit them and feed them. Pual was a retired county deputy sheriff, one of the last Wyoming lawmen to pack a six-shooter. Paul's brother Chuck was our neighbor and good friend. A former US Marine who fought at Gaudalcanal and Tarawa, Chuck helped us move to Idaho Falls. (This and Cronberg Photo by David L. Roberts)
Ted Cronberg on his sheep ranch outside Medicine Bow. I helped out a few times on this ranch.
Medicine Bow in its earliest days.

I heard from an old student from my days teaching at Medicine Bow, Wyoming in 1985-1989 and it brought back a flood of good memories. Medicine Bow today. Left, the Virginian Hotel, at one time the tallest building between Denver and the coast. Right, the old train station, now a museum.
Medicine Bow is a very small town on the High Plains of Wyoming. When we lived there it had a population of about 500. It was one of the most isolated places in the lower 48. Fifty-six miles to Laramie or Rawlins, the two closest towns, and 89 miles to Casper. There was a little store in town, three bars, a garage, and a liquor store. There was also a hotel and a motel.

Medicine Bow was made (sort of) famous by Owen Wister when he wrote the first true Western novel--The Virginian--back in the early 1900s. The book was set in Medicine Bow, after Wister had visited and spent the night sleeping on the top of the bar. In the fifties, there was a popular TV show called 'The Virginian' but that was before my time.

We made many close friends there. You had to. There was little to do other than sit and visit, drink coffee, and play games. The weather could get harsh, closing all the roads in and out of town and literally cutting us off from civilization.

I loved it there, and didn't want to leave. But my wife had nothing to do there and it was too far to the hospital in an emergency, so we moved in 1989 to Idaho Falls.

The school, Bow-Basin Junior Senior High School, had about 130 students K-12. We graduated about 12 kids a year. The building in which I taught is now empty, and the kids in town go to nearby mining town Hanna to school.

It was a magical place for me. Last year, my son and I went back and I took a hundred photos, but none came out because I accidentally deleted them. We saw some old friends, including an old rancher friend and the old coach. The town is down to around 300 people.

I'm putting a couple of good photos on here that capture the place. I knew these two men and felt, during those four years, that I lived where I belonged. Well, life moves on and things change, but Medicine Bow, Wyoming has a special place in my heart. Niel Young said it best: "All my changes were there". It was the first place we lived after being married, my son was born there, it was my first teaching job, and it's where I grew up in a lot of ways.

A final blast from the past. Current U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne pass through Medicine Bow back when Cheney was running for the U.S. Congress. The Cheneys are from Casper.

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