Saturday, June 05, 2010

Small Towns

Rawlins, Wyoming is a small town, population around 8500.  Rawlins came into existence as a stop along the Transcontinental Railroad as it was being built, since there was an alkaline-free springs in the area for water.  Coal is found in the area, as well as a red iron oxide that when ground to powder is a base for red paint.  The original Brooklyn Bridge was painted with "Rawlins Red".  As well as being a stop for the Union Pacific train line, the area was good for raising sheep and it is believed that the sheepherder's wagon was created here.  A Conestoga-type wago, the sheepherder's wagon featured a bed, a wood burning stove for heat and room for a couple of men to sleep.  Due to the vast areas that sheep grazed, sheepherders lived out with them and the wagon made their lives much easier.

Since the strongly gusting winds were still blowing yesterday, Denny and I decided to visit the Carbon County museum, currently housed in a former Mormon church on a side street in town.  The first thing you see when you enter is the original Wyoming state flag which has been carefully reconstructed and repaired. Wandering the aisles of the museum you'll find collections of furniture, tableaus of life during the early days of Rawlins, a collection of Thomas Edison's record players and artifacts, paintings and sketches by local artists, Native American beadwork and artwork, Wyoming gemstone quality jade (who knew?), exhibits on the lives of locally famous people such as the doctor who took the body of a local outlaw and dissected the brain in an effort to see if there was an obvious physical reason for his criminal mindset, then skinned the body, tanned the hide and made (and wore) a pair of shoes from the tanned skin.  Yeah, the things you can learn about people!

Wandering the back rooms of the museum we discovered a huge 32,000 pound safe made in Hamilton, Ohio (yay for our hometown state), with hand painted panels inside.  There's an interesting story to the safe and how they finally "cracked" it when it was rediscovered--a Geraldo Rivera type story.  A 52 foot long firetruck resides back there along with a collection of saddles and other items jammed in there awaiting the new museum the operators are hoping to someday build.

One of the most interesting rooms was the one filled with photographs of the early beginnings of the town and its townspeople.  Ranging from Native Americans to their early baseball and basketball teams, it was a fascinating look back at the way people lived.  There were two story houses with snow blown halfway up the sides, the newly built prison as it stood by itself in a field (it's now in the middle of a residential neighborhood),school pictures, portraits, bandits, bad guys, good guys, you name it.  Denny and I thoroughly enjoyed the two hours we spent there and recommend it as a day trip combined with a visit to the Wyoming Frontier Prison museum.


Linda in New Mexico said...

I'm loving the travelog about Rawlins.
Did you guys get to doing any of that here? I think I remember you saying a little "work" kept you from it. Shame on me huh? Good junk everywhere but I think you and Denny have a magnet for interesting.
XXOO The Olde Bagg also known as the other Linda

Gloria said...

Your travels are really getting exciting. I enjoyed this interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

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