Driving to Kemmerer
Trip Start Jul 07, 2012
45Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
I left my hotel in Casper and drove past miles of sagebrush and oil wells to the Fossil Cabin Museum near Medicine Bow, WY. Unfortunately, the owner died several years ago and it is now closed. There was a for sale sign on the property so it might open again someday.
I drove back to Medicine Bow and went to the Medicine Bow Museum. It's a small history museum in what used to be the train station. Medicine Bow's main claim to fame is a book by Owen Wister called The Virginian that was loosly based on the town. It was later made into a popular TV show of the same name. The TV show was actually shot in a studio in Los Angeles. A cabin that was built by the author's family and used by them for one year was moved from elsewhere in Wyoming to the museum.
I then drove to the Wyoming Frontier Prison in Rawlins, WY. The prison was started in 1888 but the first building with 104 cells wasn't completed until 1901. Thirty-two more cells were added in 1904. Another cell block was added in 1950 and then another in 1966. The prison closed in 1981. It sat abandoned until 1987 when the low-budget movie Prison was filmed on location. It became a museum in 1988.
I had some time to go through their museum before going on the 4:30 tour, their last of the day. The museum has several rooms of displays about famous prisoners, contraband confiscated from prisoners and objects made by prisoners both on their own time and in the prison factories. The Wyoming Peace Officers' Museum is also in one of the rooms.
The prison has seen better days. There used to be factories behind the cell blocks but they were torn down after the prison closed. Some things were damaged when the prison was used as a movie set and were never repaired. In spite of the damage it's still an interesting tour. You get to see all of the cell blocks, the pole that prisoners used to be chained to when they were beaten, the cafeteria, the exercise yard and the gas chamber used for the last few executions.