Sunday, April 21, 2013

US Hwy 20: Lusk Lunch, Light & Look

While planning my drive yesterday morning, I discovered that Lusk, WY, is the most populous town in the least populous county of the least populous state in the country. That alone, as you might imagine, was enough to get me to plan and make a stop there.

I also discovered that Lusk has the only stoplight for almost 150 miles of US Hwy 20, from where I turned off the interstate in Douglas, WY, to my destination for the day in Chadron, NE.

During my lunch, I inquired broadly about what there is to see and do in town.

First is a redwood water tower dating from 1886, a charming little artifact of the town's progression from cattle-town, to railroad-town, to oil-town.

There's still some cattle here, the trains still run through here, and they're doing a little oil fracking nearby. But, the town is mostly going the way of so many little towns like it: Local commerce dwindles as it moves to big box stores in newer towns on the interstate, young people move away to seek broader opportunities of their own choosing, and everything else just winds down in the process.

There's also the "Stagecoach Museum" that's housed in the old armory building.

The name is a little misleading, because there's only one stagecoach. Mostly it's a somewhat overwhelming collection of local memorabilia, arranged in semi-thematic groupings, piles or clumps.

There's not a lot of documentation, so you can get the gist of the town's heritage more than it's actual history. For a fee of only two bucks, however, it's well worth the visit for a mid-day break.

My visit was greatly enhanced by a woman named Rose, whose name tag says "curator" but who describes herself as more of a "caretaker." The first thing she said when we met at the door was, "You should bring your dog in! I love dogs and they are always welcome here."

Perhaps she saw the dog hair that is now a constant feature of my clothing. Maybe she's psychic. Who knows? Either way, I got Happy from the truck and the three of us toured the facility.

The highlight, of course, was the single stagecoach on display. It's actually quite special, and worthy of having the museum named for it: It's the only remaining authentic stagecoach from the famous 1880's Cheyenne-Deadwood route, the one Doris Day sang about in Calamity Jane.

I confessed to Rose that I'm more interested in stories than stuff, and she happily accommodated me with and oral history of the town, as well as her own. We had a very pleasant hour together, and I greatly appreciated her time and hospitality. Happy waited patiently throughout, often moving into position for prolonged pats from Rose!

In my next post, I'll bring you up to date on my drive into Nebraska... Stay tuned!

Click here to see exactly where I am posting this from on Google Maps.

1 comment:

Mom said...

Was it a Wells Fargo coach?