This Open Road

A season walking southbound on the Appalachian Trail

Noticing History

Everywhere I walk in Laramie, there are glimpses into the past. Of course Laramie isn’t unique in this aspect. Every town has its history revealed in buildings, homes, streets, back alleys and monuments. Being new to a town allows one to see with fresh eyes. I’m constantly gazing about and wondering what that corner looked like 100 or so years ago. Businesses come and fill in vacant spaces, but the energy of a place remains. If walls could speak, indeed…

Sometimes being at the right place at the right time adds a helpful dimension. Last week I happened to be walking near two people going in the same direction that I was. I overheard one comment to the other, “I love the windows in some of the older buildings in Laramie.” I followed his gaze and noticed large glass block windows set in symmetrically-arranged dark bricks in an art deco style, high on the wall of a building across the street. It was something I normally would notice and appreciate, but hadn’t seen until this random stranger drew my attention to it (unbeknownst to him). Now I look at those windows every time I walk down that street.

My parents came for a visit last week. While walking along the Garfield St. Bridge, which goes over the train tracks, and looking back across downtown, my dad told me about a trip he and my Aunt Barb took from Denver to visit relatives in California when they were young. He said they went on the UP (Union Pacific) and what an adventure it was to travel so far by themselves. Their train came through Laramie on its way west, and although they didn’t exit, he remembers the stopover. We contemplated what Laramie must have looked like then; certainly most of the same buildings that we were viewing were there at that time.

As I walk around, I notice places that evoke a sense of life here from earlier days. The old train depot fascinates me. Not used as a passenger depot anymore, it can be rented out for events. The day I visited, it was quiet, no one around. I imagined a bustling, turn-of-the-century transit stop, women in long dresses, wearing hats; men in ranch wear or business suits of the time period. Many of these folks were probably making routine commutes to and from Denver, or to other destinations much further away. I wondered how many people got off at the depot and stayed, raising children whose descendants are still here.

01-Wyoming 107

Union Pacific.

05-Wyoming 127

The Laramie Depot.

10-Wyoming 146

Just freight, no (known) passengers.

Just freight, no (known) passengers.

A look through the windows.

A look through the windows.

 

I’ve spent time in countries where train travel is common practice and wish it was more prevalent in the western U.S. Even though this route is for freight now, and no longer for people, I still like living where the trains comes through.

08-Wyoming 144

14-Wyoming 156

*

Other landmarks…

The local Elks Club.

The local Elks Lodge.

07-Wyoming 108

 

02-Wyoming 117

The Ivinson Mansion is one block from my apartment building.

Former home of one of the early settlers of Laramie.

Former home of one of the early families of Laramie.

*

I’m a temporary resident, but have rapidly burrowed into my life here, taking in as much of the local culture as possible. I think years of travel and relocating have honed this skill. If I like a place, I want to learn about it as deeply and quickly as possible, making it mine for the time that I’m there. Laramie has made this process easy.

7 responses to “Noticing History

  1. Ron Crispe April 23, 2014 at 10:00 am

    Hi Robyn,
    I just discovered this post. I missed it somehow. Fun surprise! I enjoyed our visit and especially enjoyed the art museum.
    Love,
    Dad

  2. Jane April 14, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Robyn…you make me want to go teach in Japan, hike a long trail, even go live in Laramie! You’re an inspiration and I enjoy seeing the world through your eyes!

  3. kari April 2, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Hey Robyn. I love seeing your blog about our fabulous town! Yay Laramie!

  4. Scott March 31, 2014 at 4:58 am

    Very nice! Looks like a beautiful place to embed yourself for awhile.

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