Medicine Bow, Wyoming

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For the mountain range, see Medicine Bow Mountains. For the mountain peak, see Medicine Bow Peak.
Medicine Bow, Wyoming
Aerial view of Medicine Bow and surrounding area
Aerial view of Medicine Bow and surrounding area
Location in Carbon County and the state of Wyoming.
Location in Carbon County and the state of Wyoming.
Medicine Bow, Wyoming is located in USA
Medicine Bow, Wyoming
Medicine Bow, Wyoming
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 41°53′52″N 106°12′10″W / 41.89778°N 106.20278°W / 41.89778; -106.20278Coordinates: 41°53′52″N 106°12′10″W / 41.89778°N 106.20278°W / 41.89778; -106.20278
Country United States
State Wyoming
County Carbon
 • Total 3.46 sq mi (8.96 km2)
 • Land 3.46 sq mi (8.96 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 6,565 ft (2,001 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 284
 • Estimate (2012[3]) 277
 • Density 82.1/sq mi (31.7/km2)
Time zone Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
 • Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6)
ZIP code 82329
Area code(s) 307
FIPS code 56-51575[4]
GNIS feature ID 1591446[5]

Medicine Bow is a town in Carbon County, Wyoming, United States. The population was 284 at the 2010 census.


Medicine Bow is located at 41°53′52″N 106°12′10″W / 41.89778°N 106.20278°W / 41.89778; -106.20278 (41.897668, -106.202796).[6]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 3.46 square miles (8.96 km2), all of it land.[1]

History 19th and 20th century[edit]

Medicine Bow, like many other towns across southern Wyoming, was established as a result of the construction of the transcontinental railroad in 1868. The railroad located a tie boom on the nearby Medicine Bow River and built a depot, water stop, and coal-loading facility. Later, livestock loading-pens were built and Medicine Bow became an important livestock shipping center. The first load of cattle shipped to the Union Stockyards in Omaha came from the Medicine Bow area. The town grew up around the railroad facilities. In the middle 1880s, Philadelphia lawyer Owen Wister stopped in town and wrote a description in his journal. He later used the historic setting of Medicine Bow as a backdrop for his novel The Virginian, which is considered to be the first novel of the "Western" Genre. In the early 1900s Medicine Bow was one of the automobile stops on Old Lincoln Highway (Junction of Hwys 30/287 and 487). August Grimm built the Virginian Hotel to accommodate travelers. On June 26, 1909, the city was incorporated.

In the early 1970s, the town suffered as a result of the opening of Interstate Highway 80 that bypassed the town, some 35 miles to the south. An economic boom began in the middle 1970s when uranium mines opened north of town and coal mines west of town expanded production. In 1976, as a bicentennial project, local civic groups helped relocate the Owen Wister Cabin, built by the Wister family in the Grand Tetons in northwestern Wyoming, to a site next to the depot. David L. Roberts (b. Lusk, Wyoming, 1954) founded the Medicine Bow Post newspaper in 1977, editing and publishing it until the early 1990s. Ownership of the original Union Pacific Depot, which had burned in the early 20th century and was replaced in 1978, was transferred to the City of Medicine Bow, and the town museum was started in the structure.

Medicine Bow is one of the windiest places in America. South of town, the first experimental giant wind turbines in Wyoming were built under contract from the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation in the early 1980s. Utility-operated wind farms provide electricity from windy points near Medicine Bow.

History 21st century[edit]

In December 2007, plans were announced for construction of a large coal gasification plant to be built southwest of town.[citation needed]As of April 2011 construction was to begin on the concrete pad.[citation needed] Completion date was originally estimated for 2014.[citation needed] According to an article on WSJ 11/5/2012, China Petrochemical Corp is planning to build an advanced facility here that will convert coal into gasoline. The cost will be around $2B, and it will produce 2300 construction jobs and 400 full-time jobs when the facility goes into operation. China Petrochemical will gain the technological know-how through this project and will use Chinese made materials to build the plant to gain the cost advantage.As of Feb 2015, this project has been put on indefinite hold due to the low cost of crude oil in the US Hanna Headlamp.[citation needed]

The plant on 200 acres "a few miles up County Road 3 from Elk Mountain and about a dozen miles south of Medicine Bow"[7] would use coal from the nearby underground Saddleback Hills mine and Elk Mountain surface coal mine, turning it into 11,700 barrels of gasoline and carbon dioxide each day. The company plans to use the carbon dioxide "for sale and use in oil recovery".[8] In 2013, Houston based DKRW Advanced Fuels had submitted new construction plans for the $1.75 billion plant, and announced a construction start date of July 1, 2014.[8]

Expected temporary works to the town is an average of 972 workers per quarter over a four-year build, and when the plant is complete 435 full-time workers to operate the plant (285 in the coal mine and 150 in the coal-to-gas plant) The company estimates to spend about $35 million for the payroll and $200 million on operations and maintenance annually.[8]

The town celebrated its 100th anniversary of incorporation on June 26, 2009.[citation needed]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 127
1920 210 65.4%
1930 264 25.7%
1940 338 28.0%
1950 328 −3.0%
1960 392 19.5%
1970 455 16.1%
1980 953 109.5%
1990 389 −59.2%
2000 274 −29.6%
2010 284 3.6%
Est. 2015 270 [9] −4.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[10]

As of 2000 the median income for a household in the town was $33,750, and the median income for a family was $35,156. Males had a median income of $41,250 versus $20,536 for females. The per capita income for the town was $16,420. About 10.3% of families and 11.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.2% of those under the age of eighteen and 17.5% of those sixty five or over

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 284 people, 125 households, and 81 families residing in the town. The population density was 82.1 inhabitants per square mile (31.7/km2). There were 182 housing units at an average density of 52.6 per square mile (20.3/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 95.1% White, 0.4% Pacific Islander, 3.9% from other races, and 0.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.7% of the population.

There were 125 households of which 20.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.4% were married couples living together, 7.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 7.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.2% were non-families. 29.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.79.

The median age in the town was 49.3 years. 20.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 3.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21.1% were from 25 to 44; 29.9% were from 45 to 64; and 25.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 53.5% male and 46.5% female.


Public education in the town of Medicine Bow is provided by Carbon County School District #2. Zoned campuses include Medicine Bow Elementary School (grades K-6) and H.E.M. Junior/Senior High School [1] (grades 7-12).


  1. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-12-14. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-12-14. 
  3. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  4. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  7. ^ Fugleberger, Jeremy (26 March 2012). "Coal-to-gasoline project in Wyoming sparks hope, doubt". Casper Star-Tribune. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c Adam Voge (20 June 2013). "$1.75B Wyo coal gasification plant construction start planned for 2014". Casper Star-Tribune. Retrieved 5 August 2014. 
  9. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Barrett, Glen. (1978) The Virginian at Medicine Bow.
  • Roberts, David L. (1991) Sage Street: A Collection of Stories.

External links[edit]