"Railroad, Prison, Oil, and Interstate Town" Rawlins by atufft

Rawlins Travel Guide: 20 reviews and 45 photos

Railroad and Tourist Town

Rawlins, the county seat of Carbon County ("Carbon" is likely derived from a French fur trapper name) is located along the original transcontinental railroad, the original transcontinental "Lincoln" highway, and today's transcontinental east-west route known as Interstate 80. The town is named after Rawlin Springs, which in turn were named after General John A. Rawlins, a decorated Civil War veteran who at the time was put in charge of defending railroad work from the Shoshone and Arapahoe Indians who were the areas original inhabitants. Rawlins had been so taken by the quality of the spring water discovered there that he suggested it be named after him. During the 19th century, the railroad probably brought in more prisoners than tourists, but like other railroad towns of the high plains region, Rawlins has a railroad depot of architectural interest. And, while the old frontier prison has been long since replaced by a more modern Wyoming State Penitentiary, the old one remains as a curiosity for those interested in the old west. Set in a small valley with a dramatic rocky ridge backdrop, Rawlins is worth a brief stop along the way from east to west. I occasionally stop for the night at the Travel America truck stop on the ridge across the freeway, and with luck will find time enough to go downtown for breakfast or lunch. In addition to the railroad depot and prison, Rawlins has a small but interesting collection of late 19th and early 20th century frontier architecture.

  • Intro Updated Aug 3, 2008
  • Add to Trip Planner (?)
  • Report Abuse

Reviews (13)

Comments (5)

  • mtncorg's Profile Photo
    Aug 15, 2008 at 10:12 AM

    The prison does indeed make for an interesting history lesson. Rawlins is all about boom and bust ... and wind.

  • calcaf38's Profile Photo
    Aug 10, 2008 at 5:38 PM

    Interesting page about an area I know nothing of. Good photos and an evocative feel for the place. Thank you for sharing.

  • Ewingjr98's Profile Photo
    Aug 9, 2008 at 3:30 PM

    Hey Alan, thanks for the info on Wyoming. I grew up on I-80 about 1500 miles from here in PA. Looks a bit different in WY.

  • MM212's Profile Photo
    Aug 6, 2008 at 2:31 AM

    Great architecture for such a small town. Believe it or not, I've been to Wyoming, though only the south-west corner... a town called Evanston. Cheers!

  • SteveOSF's Profile Photo
    Aug 5, 2008 at 1:55 PM

    A very nice overview of Rawlins.

atufft Visits Here Frequently!


“California is on the edge of the planet, not the center of the universe”

Online Now


Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 0 5 9
Forum Rank:
0 0 2 6 4

Badges & Stats in Rawlins

  • 13 Reviews
  • 28 Photos
  • 0 Forum posts
  • 1,923PageViews

Have you been to Rawlins?

  Share Your Travels  

Latest Activity in Rawlins

Travel Interests

See All Travel Interests (5)