By Luke Anderson
September 21, 2016
For those who travel across Wyoming regularly, common sights along the highways typically include nothing - and a whole lot of it. However, those people who do traverse the state regularly also know that Wyoming is renowned for its unique places that are hidden in plain sight in the vast empty spaces. Ames Monument, a giant stone pyramid, breaks the repetitious pattern of the rolling hills off of Interstate 80 near Laramie. Near Wapiti just outside Shoshone National Forest there is an eccentric, towering timber mansion visible from the highway. The Lincoln Highway was especially notorious for attracting unique landmarks to draw in business from travelers. One such place on the Lincoln Highway, now Highway 30, is a monolithic, three-story stone building - the Virginian Hotel.
The Virginian Hotel is thoroughly ingrained in the greater mythology of the American west. In 1902, Owen Wister published his famous novel The Virginian, which is set on a ranch outside of Medicine Bow, Wyoming where the hotel is located. The novel is commonly argued to be the first Western novel ever written, establishing a genre that would go on to be wildly popular in literature, film, and television. The Virginian Hotel was completed in 1911, and was named after the famous novel by Wister that helped put Medicine Bow on the map.
The Virginian Hotel has kept Medicine Bow and Highway 30 a destination for over one hundred years. Today, the hotel serves as a congregation point for many community events and helps keep the spirit of the Wild West alive. Even in 2016 when the world is more connected than ever, Medicine Bow and the Virginian still manage to feel like an oasis - a watering hole meant to relieve travelers of the vast expanses of wilderness for a hundred miles in every direction. The Virginian Hotel still evokes the feeling of a trading post along the Oregon Trail to those weary travelers driving the long and lonely roads of Wyoming.
Like what you just read?
- Browse our archive of profiles by clicking here, or read about historic spaces by clicking here.
- Subscribe to our newsletter to learn more about preservation news.
- Donate or become a member to help us produce stories, organize events, and be a voice for preservation across the state.
- Like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to see our latest updates!