Microadventures, Uncategorized, Wyoming

Adventuring in Wyoming: Como Bluff & Fossil Cabin

Adventuring in Wyoming –  my new blog series on unique things to see and do in Wyoming, which is my home.  This is inspired partially by me wanting to see things I haven’t in 30+ years, and by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to me focusing on adventuring closer to home.

I love dinosaurs, so when I realized there is a cabin built out of dinosaur bones less than an hour from my hometown of Laramie, I realized I had to make an effort to go see it (if you care, I love long necks, like brachiosaurus, but I really love all dinosaurs).  Into the car, and north on US Highway 287 out of Laramie I headed!

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The trip drives through the ghost town of Bosler. Once home to over 200 people, it was killed off, like many small American towns, by the interstate highway system.  It is now unincorporated, and has just a handful of residents (and one furniture store of all things). 
The abandoned Bosler Consolidated School, which graduated its last class in 1983.
The abandoned Bosler Consolidated School, which graduated its last class in 1983.
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Jalan Crossland sings, “I dream of a trailer in Bosler, Wyoming…”
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The beaches of Wyoming somewhere north of Bosler

The drive continues north through the metropolis of Rock River (population 245) and the vast openness of the high plains.  Though I had programed the Fossil Cabin into my GPS, it’s pretty hard to miss as it is right off the highway about fifty miles north of Laramie.

The Fossil Cabin was built in 1932 by Thomas and Grace Boylan, who homesteaded the area in 1908.  It served as a roadside attraction, gas station, and museum before closing in 2011.  It is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is often called the “oldest building in the world,” though we know rocks can outdate dinosaurs by quite a lot.  It was also called the “cabin that use to walk,” which is quite accurate!  Apparently this is the only cabin made of dinosaur bones in the United States, as well… in case you were wondering, ha!  I don’t believe dinosaur bones ever took off as a building material.

The cabin is located near Como Bluff, which is very important in dinosaur history.  From wyohistory.org:

“Como Bluff is part of an anticline, a geological formation where the rock layers on a long axis–east to west in this case–were bent upward. Later, the middle of the anticline eroded away, leaving two long flanks, north and south. Como Bluff is the south flank of the anticline, with the dinosaur-bone-bearing rock layers exposed on its steep, north side.

Here, paleontologists found many fossil specimens in near‑perfect condition. During the late 1870s and 1880s, paleontology teams from Yale University and the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences discovered a multitude of dinosaur and other prehistoric animal remains here. Some dinosaurs found at this site were: Allosaurus, Stegosaurus, Camarasaurus, Diplodocus and Apatosaurus, known then as Brontosaurus Dinosaurs from Como Bluff are on display at the Peabody Museum at Yale, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.”

The “dinosaur wars,” or “bone wars,” occurred in this area, as competing scientists fought to outdo each other in discoveries and fossil discoveries.  For those interested, here’s some more reading on the subject: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bone_Wars#1877%E2%80%931892:_Como_Bluff_finds

Como Bluff itself is on private property, and cannot be visited by the general public.  Luckily the roadside cabin gives visitors a taste of dinosaur goodness!

It's hard to miss the large historical marker sign on the side of the highway, which tells the story of Como Bluff and resulting dinosaur wars.
It’s hard to miss the large historical marker sign on the side of the highway, which tells the story of Como Bluff and resulting dinosaur wars.
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Just a triceratops sign on the prairie
Como Buff Fossil Cabin
The world’s oldest cabin! The Fossil Cabin is made up of 5,796 dinosaur bones and weighs 102,116 pounds. The cabin is being prepared to be moved into the town of Medicine Bow.
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From a short distance, you might even tell it is made from bones!

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Close up of the dinosaur bone fossils that make up the cabin

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I AM TOUCHING A DINOSAUR!!!!!!!!!!!
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An ode to one of my favorites!
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There are also several other unique buildings on the property, including this out building made up some really unique rock
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Close up of the rocks the make up the outbuildings
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The farmhouse on site is also abandoned (and filled with an incredible amount of rodent droppings, for what it’s worth)
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Old corrals
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The abandoned farmhouse

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The triceratops is the Wyoming State Dinosaur!

Finally getting my fix of all things dinosaurs, it was time for a quick trip into Medicine Bow, which is just a handful of miles down the road.  Here is the famous Virginian Hotel and Medicine Bow Museum.

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The Virginian Hotel was built in 1901

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A display of local brands at the Medicine Bow Museum

Quick stop in Medicine Bow done, it was time to return to Laramie as the thunderstorms developed.  What a great afternoon!

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There was a train derailment north of Laramie, which was visible from the highway.
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Another shot of the train derailment.

How to get there
The Fossil Cabin is located right on the side of US Highway 287.  It is located about 50 miles north of Laramie, and 7 miles south of Medicine Bow.  You can put “Fossil Cabin” into Google Maps and it will lead you there.  There are also road signs that alert you to the historical site ahead.  The cabin is being prepared to be moved into the town of Medicine Bow, but as of May 30, 2020, it was still at the original site.

What is your favorite dinosaur?!  Tell me in the comments!

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