When novelist Owen Wister (1860–1938) first visited Medicine Bow—the town he would immortalize in his 1902 classic Western tale The Virginian—he noted that the community looked “as if strewn there by the wind.” Today the town still looks somewhat windblown, although the small business district is anchored by the Virginian Hotel, built in the early 1900s and named in honor of the book. This is a community of 320 struggling for survival, with an economy based on the vagaries of agriculture and mining. Although the town sits at the intersection of U.S. 30 (Lincoln Highway) and Wyoming Route 487, you’ll seldom encounter much traffic here, except during the fall hunting season (the area is particularly noted for its antelope hunting) and when there are football or basketball games at the University of Wyoming. On those days, expect a crowd on the road and fans talking of sports at the Virginian Hotel.
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