As I came down from the mountains, Laramie was a welcome sight. It was the largest town I had seen since leaving Salt Lake City, a day and a half earlier. Aside from simply appreciating some civilization, I was also quite happy to discover Laramie's western charm. This is what you'd expect a town in Wyoming to be.
Laramie has plenty of downtown businesses that are still doing business in old brick-front buildings. It's a lot of fun to walk around and explore. No doubt, it also helps that Laramie is home to the University of Wyoming, so the city has the added charm of a college town.
Laramie's business district is lined up along US 287 (3rd Street) and US 30. Be sure to hop over to 2nd Street, which also feels a lot like a "main street". Following the Business I-80 Loop (the green signs) will also help you find the most interesting parts of town.
Laramie's old Fox Theater is no longer showing flicks; it's now part of the neighboring Cowboy Bar.
Just a couple of blocks away from the old theater, St. Matthews Cathedral provides a nice centerpiece for the town.
St. Matthews Cathedral is the highest Episcopal Cathedral in the U.S. (at an elevation of 7,165 feet). The church was completed in 1896, and its 118 foot tall spire was added in 1916. The clock in its bell tower must be hand-wound weekly. †
The downtown business district parallels a large rail yard. An ancient-looking pedestrian bridge crosses the rails at Garfield and 1st Streets. Climb the stairs for a nice view of the town...
... as well as the railroad tracks.
On your way out of town, follow Ivinson Avenue (one block north of US 30) for a look at the historic Ivinson Mansion, which is now home to the Laramie Plains Museum.
After serving as a home for the Ivinson family, the mansion was deeded to the Episcopal church, which used it as a boarding house for girls. Later, the museum purchased the home, and restoration was complete in 1973.
On your way out of Laramie, headed east on Interstate 80, be sure to stop at the rest area at exit 323 (even if you don't need to, ahem, "rest"). The rest area is home to a strange memorial to Abraham Lincoln. The head of our 16th president stands atop a stone monument, staring down at the interstate (but you won't see it until after you've passed the exit, and it's too late to turn around). The Abraham Lincoln head marks the highest point on the old Lincoln Highway (U.S. 30, which at this point, is now Interstate 80).
Also at exit 323, you can escape the interstate by hopping onto Wyoming Route 210, Happy Jack Road, for a much more scenic drive (through hills, instead of near them). Keep in mind, though, if you exit here onto Happy Jack Road, you'll miss the Ames Pyramid, our next stop.
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