Medicine Bow Depot
By Luke Anderson
Thanks to the Union Pacific Railroad, the historic train depot is often one of the most significant and recognizable structures in communities that sprouted up along the railroad in the late 1800s. In Wyoming, the trend began in 1887 with the construction of the depot in Cheyenne, which was designed by renowned American architect Henry Van Brunt based in Boston. The idea of a statement depot trickled down the line across southern Wyoming, as depots sprouted up in communities like Laramie, Rawlins, Rock Springs, Green River, and Evanston, each with their own unique architecture.
Many smaller communities in southern Wyoming just off the main line also received prominent train depots. One such community is Medicine Bow. Medicine Bow is more well known for the Virginian Hotel and the author Owen Wister, but just across the street from the famous hotel is the Medicine Bow depot, which now houses a museum. The depot is smaller than some of its counterparts in bigger communities, but its charm is just as strong. The current depot was built in 1913 after the original one burned down earlier that year. Its architecture has elements of the Prairie school and the Arts and Crafts movement that were popular at the time. The depot is one story with a long, linear footprint. It has a hipped roof and wide, overhanging eaves lined with curved wood knee braces.
So many communities across the west owe their existence to the transcontinental railroad. Although the railroad is even more extensive now than it was in the late 19th century when these towns sprouted, the its influence has become less prominent. Passenger train traffic has all but disappeared thanks to airplanes, interstates, and highways, making the historic depots across Wyoming relics of a more romantic, more glamorous way of seeing the West. Many depots no longer service passengers - instead, many of them have become important community centers and museums.
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