Thursday, June 15, 2017

(23) June 14, Coalville Utah to Medicine Bow, Wyoming

Holiday Hills RV Park, Coalville, Utah

The Price of Beauty in the West

We awoke on Wednesday, June 14 to a cold crisp and beautiful morning. This is one of the most picturesque campsites we have stayed in in a long time.( )
It is far superior to the KOA in West Wendover. But in the West, there's always a price to pay for beauty. Here beauty came with below freezing temperatures. We stayed warm enough so long as we were in our beds in the tent trailer. But I hustled to get dressed once I climbed out of bed. Linda remained in bed a little longer as I got up to start the stove and make a pot of coffee.
Morning Coffee

There was a hard frost everywhere and a little puddle of water had frozen solid on the picnic table. Still, the view from our campsite was stunning. As cold as it was I enjoyed the morning and watching some of the other campers get up to fish in the river.

The night before I'd spoken with the man across the way who told me that he and his wife had sold their house and bought a motorhome. He was not yet retired, but he was working as a pipe fitter on snowmaking machines at ski resorts. He caught two large fish the day before. Bob, who along with his wife Margie are the camp hosts, wished me a good morning and asked if there was anything I needed. This is certainly a Welcoming and friendly campground.

Bob, Our Camp Host

Linda and I quickly broke camp and then it was time to get on the road. We would have another long day ahead of us. We had to backtrack a bit in order to catch I-80 East. We headed northeast into Echo Canyon and then into Wyoming. We would spend the entire day in Wyoming and will probably spend much of the following day crossing the state as well.

Echo Canyon and Utah's Geology

Rock formation on the way to Wyoming
As we drove up into Echo Canyon I marveled once again at the varied and beautiful geology that is Utah. Echo Canyon certainly does not possess the most beautiful geological formations I've seen in Utah, but if it pales in comparison that is only because of the many other stunning places in the state.

As we drove up echo Canyon, I found myself thinking once again of the Donner party. The Donner party's first mistake was in choosing not to follow the California Trail to Fort Hall in Idaho and then down Utah and across Nevada. That route is hard enough. However, George Donner had become convinced by a promoter named Lansford Hastings that there was a newer shorter route through Echo Canyon and South around the great Salt Lake and then along the Humboldt River towards Truckee Meadows (Reno).

The first obstacle they encountered was Echo Canyon. Echo Canyon was not a Trail in any sense of the word. While it may be passable for a horse or a man, wagons had never crossed through it. The Donner party lost much time in breaking the trail. At least they made things easier for the Mormon pioneers who came along a year later.

Downtown Evanston

After crossing into Wyoming we first came to the city of Evanston. We hadn't planned to stop here long, but we ended up staying for a tour of the historical Museum and the historic depot.

Linda with Kay, the director
of  the Uinta County museum
in Evanston

Kay, the director of the museum, gave us the tour. The museum itself is in the old Carnegie library building. She also told us some other sites to see before we left Evanston. Her advice was helpful and accurate. Like most people in small Western cities and towns she was friendly and helpful.

After leaving Kay we walked around the old Union Pacific Roundhouse at the edge of town. The Roundhouse facility is on 27 acres. It features a still operational turntable, a machine shop. It is presently undergoing an extensive restoration for which the city of Evanston has received a grant. It appears they are spending the money well.

Partially restored Union Pacific Round with turntable. 
Lincoln Highway 1928 markers

Lincoln Highway Sites

At the Museum in Evanston we picked up a couple of brochures on Lincoln Highway. We stopped to see the Sunset Motor Court before leaving the city limits. What remains of the motor Court is original and is crying out for restoration. The Motor Court not only features cottages in a mission style, but has garage is attached to each cottage.

Lincoln Highway marker in front of Sunset Motor Court
Evanston, Wyoming

We then took a road south of Interstate 80 which at first was paved and had a posted speed limit of 50 miles an hour. However, after a couple of miles, the road turn to gravel at the speed limit change to 30 miles an hour. 30 miles an hour on that road would be much too fast. In a way, I'm glad I didn't know. I'm also glad I didn't have my fifty-nine Ranchero with me. This was some original sections of the Lincoln Highway and they appeared to be in the original condition. After approximately 10 miles of loose gravel road we managed to get back to the interstate. While still on the gravel road we managed to see Eagle rock which was a landmark on the early Lincoln Highway.

On old alignment, I sure wish I had 4 wheel drive!

Fort Bridger
We continued east on the interstate to Fort Bridger. Our children loved to play the Oregon Trail game on the computer. Linda taught a section on the Oregon Trail and she was amazed to see how much the trading post looked like the trading post in the computer game.

Replica of Jim Bridger's Fort Bridger 
Early travelers on the Oregon Trail would stop for supplies at Fort Bridger.

As the Oregon Trail became more unsafe for the emigrants Fort Bridger transformed from a trading post, to an army post. Much of the post has been restored and there are museum displays in many of the buildings.
Store, Fort Bridger

Fort Bridger, Wyoming

Somewhere, West of Laramie
Advertisement for Jordan Playboy

Wyoming, like California and other Western states captured the imagination of the country. It was a place of fresh starts where people were not bound by the circumstances of their birth. Hard work and honesty were seen as the best way to get ahead and they were rewarded amply in the West.

Lincoln Highway displays at Fort Bridger
The manufacturer of the Jordan Motorcar recognize this in the same way that it was recognized by Theodore Roosevelt and Owen Wister. There was an advertising campaign for an automobile made by Jordan called the Playboy. While the Jordan Playboy is  long forgotten, the advertisements for the car are not. One famous ad was called "Somewhere West Of Laramie". Advertising campaign is famous for two reasons. First of all it was marketing the car to women. Secondly the campaign evocative and based solely on emotion. It never really described the car only the feeling that one might experience in driving a Jordan Playboy.
Along the Green River, photo from American
Heritage Magazine, June 1974

On I-80, June 14, 2017

We traveled east through Green River, Rock Springs and other towns important to the history of the Lincoln Highway as well as to this country's westward expansion.

Postcard of Rock Springs Arch

The Virginian

James Drury starred as the Virginian in the
late 1960's and early 1970's

We finally left the freeway for Highway 30. In Medicine Bow, Wyoming. We would spend the night at the Virginian Hotel which is named for the book by Owen Wister. Wister, spent a number of summers during his early adult years in Wyoming. He made the acquaintance of many of the people who provided inspiration for the characters in his book. I'm sure that the character of the Virginian is a composite and perhaps a little bit of a Romanticization of individuals Wister met in Wyoming.

Virginian Hotel, Medicine Bow, Wyoming
Even if you haven't read the Virginian you are most likely familiar with the character. If you've ever seen a Western movie or read a Western novel most of the characters are based on the archetypes found in the Virginian. Such phrases as: "Smile when you call me that", and "Be out of town by Sunset" were first popularized in the Virginian. Wister stayed at the Virginian hotel and wrote much of the novel across the street in a rented room. His cabin is in a park across the street from the Virginian.

(L)Dining Room at the Virginian, open for
special occasions. (our visit was not a
Special Occasion) (R) Wister's cabin.

The room we had wasn't fancy, but it was comfortable and not much more expensive  than a space at a campground. Like the gravel road east of Evanston It gave us a good taste of what travel must have been like in the early days of the Lincoln Highway.

Vintage Postcard

Tomorrow we will hit the road for Laramie, Cheyenne and then into Nebraska.

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