Monday, August 16, 2010
Leaving Colorado Springs, we headed north into Wyoming and west on I-80 to Rawlins, Wyoming. Enroute we stopped at a visitor center at the summit of the highest point on the old Lincoln Highway that was the first transcontinental highway between New York and San Francisco. It is marked by a statue of President Lincoln and Henry Joy, President of Packard Motor Company who was a strong advocate of a national highway system.
Rawlins is a small high plains town with the usual brief history as a Wild West town of violence and death. One of the most colorful stories of the town and perhaps the mentality of the era is that of the outlaw know as Big Nose George. After killing several people in a jail break attempt, he was caught by a lynch mob of town folks and promptly hung. His body became the source of several “unusual” experiments. He was in fact skinned and the resulting “products” were used in several masks and most notably in being used in a pair of shoes for the first Democratic governor of the State. It is said that Governor Osborne actually wore the shoes to his inauguration.
Because of its isolation with no nearby busy cities, it retains an active downtown and even has a large oriental store in the building first owned by Governor Osborne. Today the main economic drivers are the new prison, Sinclair refinery, mining and the traditional cattle and sheep operations.
While not a remarkable place, we found it interesting enough to spend a day talking with the locals and seeing the sights. We did see a new way to take the drudgery of doing the laundry. Care is needed in driving around as the large amount of deer and antelope tend to spill over into the town on a regular basis.