The Wyoming Territorial Prison is well worth a visit. It was built in 1872 and restored in 1989, although some parts are yet to be fully restored.
There are three main areas to explore:
1. The prison itself, where you can see the cells (in one of which Butch Cassidy was once incarcerated), kitchen, laundry, dining hall etc. There's lots of info on display about the various convicts who were imprisoned there over the years, including Butch, plus audio presentations at some of the most interesting points on the self-guided tour.
2. Ranchland, which consists of a number of buildings including a homesteader's cabin and old school-house.
3. Frontier Town, which is a short "Main Street" with a general store (functioning as a well-stocked gift and souvenir shop), livery, saloon etc.
You can easily spend a couple of hours here, which makes it good value. Admission is $5 for adults, $2.50 for teens 12-17, children under 11 get in free.
The University of Wyoming boasts having one of the lowest student-teacher ratios among the western land grant public universities. The center of student life is at the Union Building, where the bookstore and other leisure facilities are located. The tower and front facade are quite impressive, as it stands just across from the Simpson Family Plaza area.
The Simpson Family of Cody, Wyoming has had several generations graduate from the University Wyoming. The most famous of this family is the retired Senator Alan Simpson, a rather moderate voice of conservatism compared to the more reactionary force famously figured by former Representative and now Vice President Dick Cheney. In any case, the plaza focuses upon then natural beauty found in Wyoming. It is located directly across from the Student Union Building.
City services now occupy the historic Carnegie Building in Laramie, which is at 405 Grand Avenue. There are also Carnegie buildings of this vintage in Cheyenne and Evanston. These buildings are typically first used as Library buildings, but I couldn't the provenance of the one in Laramie. However, I did learn that the University of Wyoming Art Museum has scheduled installation on the grounds of the building one of John Kearney's fanciful animal sculptures made from welded car bumpers--"Alligator".
The most outstanding residence in town remains the Ivinson Mansion, which is now the home of the Laramie Plains Museum. Located at the corner of 6th and Ivinson Streets, the mansion is quite close to the University of Wyoming campus. The mansion is not only host to the museum, but also is a venue for music and parties. At the time I arrived, the mansion was closed and a party was going on in the back yard. This was the home of the city's most famous resident and businessman who deserves credit for literally building the promoting Laramie as a town. His mansion was constructed in 1868, so also remains one of the oldest buildings in town.
As new buildings have been constructed at the University of Wyoming Campus, there have been some efforts to preserve the character of the original city park too. The central park area of the campus, known as Prexy's Pasture, was originally pastureland for the college president. The Campus has added various statues as memorials to learning. The bronze statue of Ben Franklin was commemorated during the 250 year of Franklin's birth--in 1956--nearby the Arts and Sciences Building. A marble sculpture devoted to sharing and friendship in learning and set in Prexy's Pasture was created by Robert Russin, the sculpture of the Lincoln Memorial. The natural wicker botanical sculpture is truely an outstanding curiosity, sitting on the north edge of Plexy's Pasture near the Education Building, but during my visit was under restoration and I was unable to learn much about it.
The Half Acre Physical Education building, which faces west toward the Arts and Sciences Building, is also quite impressive architecturally. Its 43,000 square feet was the largest indoor gymnasium west of the Mississippi when built in 1925, and includes a large basketball and two smaller gynasiums and a swimming pool. More interesting is the armory and indoor rifle range. It appears that the notion of physical education has recently shifted toward natural mountaineering activities, however. This building was also designed by resident architect Wilbur Hitchcock. The website describes the architecture this way: "The west exterior of the building is clad in native sandstone. Over the main entryway there are high, arched windows reminiscent of the Romanesque revival. Two flanking pavilions appear north and south of the entrances, and a full three-part entablature and pedimented parapet rest on top of the building's highest elevations. Bas relief stone sculpture provides additional Beaux Arts allusions on the exterior." To the north of the Half Acre Building is the Education Building, another fine example of University of Wyoming natural stone facade construction.
In contrast to the mood provided by the Spencer quote on the Arts and Sciences building, the University of Wyoming Engineering Hall evokes a more industrial attitude toward nature--"Strive on--Control of Nature is Won, Not Given" The university website describes the architecture and origin of the inscription as follows: "The building's facade displays the strong clean lines associated with modern architecture. It also incorporates subtle references to Beaux Arts tradition; dentils line the steps and pavilion top elevations. The building's trenchant facade inscription was written by engineering Dean Earl D. hay in 1926." The building was constructed before the Arts and Sciences building during the 1920's. In 1957, and then again in 1981, the building was expanded to accommodate the growing engineering program at the university, much of which is devoted to oil and mining exploration research.
One of the largest and finest buildings at the University of Wyoming is the Arts and Sciences Building. Funding for this building was secured during the Great Depression, and the cornerstone layed in 1933. The campus website (see link below) describes the architecture as follows: "Wyoming architect William Dubois' design consists of a central auditorium with wings on each side. The Arts and Sciences Building exemplifies proportions of the Beaux Arts architectural tradition. Dubois also included elements of modern approaches to architecture such as columns crowned with features similar to archaeological discoveries of Mayan architecture. F. J. Kerchof of Denver constructed the building of native Wyoming sandstone." Built as it is from native Wyoming sandstone, this outstanding building continues the evolution toward the University of Wyoming's modern natural trend in architecture. In constrast to the conservative base of Wyoming politics, the quote by Spencer on the front roots the university in liberal terms: Prepare for Complete Living.
The first campus building, Old Main, was built in the center of what formerly was Laramie's City Park. Thus, the town offered the university the best spot in town to build. The cornerstone was laid September 27, 1886, bearing the inscription Domi Habuit Unde Disceret (He has a home where he may learn). The building is constructed of locally quarried sandstone block and sets the standard for other buildings, many of which are still being constructed. The architecture is based upon a French chateau style that incorporates both classical and Renaissance architecture, all features that are simplified or refined to a unique standard of natural stone architecture more typical in other buildings. Originally, the building served as an all-in-one university with library, classrooms, and administration all housed within. Today, the building houses the university administration only. The building has been restored inside and out, and has had numerous modifications of the roofline, but otherwise remains more or less as built in 1886.
At the 8,000 foot high summit of the Medicine Bow range on I-80, and just a few miles east of Laramie, is a rest stop, visitors center, and the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Monument statue. The Visitors Center provides a good stop just before town if traveling west. There are historical photographs and maps of the pioneer trails that came through Wyoming. There is a small stuffed Grizzly Bear and a prone horned deer. But, the most spectacular thing to see here is the Lincoln Memorial. Atop some vertically stacked and mortored local stones is a 13 foot high bronze bust of Lincoln that was sculpted in 1959 by Robert Russin, a university professor at the University of Wyoming. The interstate highway and visitor center are much newer than the monument. Originally, the monument was positioned at the highest place along the first transcontinental highway, the Lincoln Highway. Later it was moved to its currrent location. The building of the original Lincoln Highway through Laramie is the subject of another dedication lintle located nearby. There are splendid views from the visitors center and this hilltop location.
The walls and buildings of the old territorial prison are recreated off Snowy Ridge Road in Laramie. The buildings include other architecture of historical interest, but most of the original buildings, including the prison, have been heavily restored. I arrived when the place was closed. One can hike to it from the trail along the Laramie River.
Downtown Laramie is a refuge from the wilder more conservative elements of Wyoming. Located several blocks west of the university, it provides many of the sorts of services university students and faculty would like. There are plenty of good books stores, outdoor supply stores, antique shops, restaurants, bars, etc. The architecture of downtown is worth the walk by itself. 2nd and Ivinson is the center, more or less, with great walking along 2nd street. First street is along the rail yard, and is worth walking too. Third Street is the main drag in town and has a few significant buildings as well. Ivinson is named for the founding promoter of the city.
Between Curtis Street, past the territorial prison reconstruction, Snowy Range Road, and beyond, is a very pleasant bicycle trail and nature walk. In early spring the grasses emerge through the patches of snow, and the water itself is a deep marine blue with patches of ice in places. I saw finches and a blue heron. The walk is about 3 miles total, I believe.
Chief Washakie was a renowned warrior and leader of the Shoshone tribe in the mid 19th century. He is buried in the old military cemetery at Fort Washakie, but this striking monument to him is in Laramie, in front of the university on Ivinson Avenue, and is well worth a detour. The 24 foot bronze statue, created by sculptor Dave McGary, depicts the chief astride an Appaloosa and challenging Crow Chief Big Robber to begin the Battle of Crowheart Butte.