The Abandoned Downtown of Shoshoni, WY

I've said it time and time again--A family vacation [with my family, anyways] isn't complete until we've stopped on the side of the road to explore something abandoned. [example: 1, 2.] I should get it embroidered on a pillow or something.

When I drove through Shoshoni on my way to Thermopolis, I fell in love with its tired facade and ramshackle buildings immediately.  The strange thing, however, was that because it sits at the crossroads of two highways, it's fairly well traveled and the roads are busy.  There's a gas station on the corner whose parking lot is constantly bursting at the seams, as vehicles with license plates from all over the country attempt to navigate in between large camper vans.

Originally, I had my heart set on stopping at the abandoned motel [second picture], but as we drove through after going to Lander we were all tired + hot, ready to get back to the hotel. "Let's just go a little further, though," one of my parents suggested, so we passed the turn we were supposed to take--and found the 'downtown, ' jutting off the main highway.

On either side, there were half a dozen buildings or so--boarded up, falling down stores on a wide street that was once well tread, ending at the train tracks. Grass was growing through the cracks in the sidewalk; the white paint was peeling. The only operating business still left was the "Silver Sage Saloon" [which, later, I found out is a great place to stop for a beer!]

Every building had murals of Native Americans, ranging in their skill from beautiful to cartoonish [and fairly offensive] painted across their closed facades. It was so quiet--in the 10 or 15 minutes that we wandered around, we didn't see a soul.

It's places like these that make my mind wander. Shoshoni is still home to 500 odd people--at its height, it only had 800--but the downtown is abandoned, derelict, decimated. What was it like, when the storefronts were open? When families walked down the sidewalks, when the bar was filled with patrons--the train rumbling by, the houses neatly painted? Was it ever like that?

Even now, a month out, these questions still rattle around my brain. Maybe I'll have to go back.

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