LARAMIE, Wyo. — Before driving through town, I didn’t know much about Wyoming’s third-largest city except that it was the home of the University of Wyoming and the site where Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered in 1998. After I passed through Laramie on my way west, I didn’t know much more than when I came.
This is where the Lincoln Highway, following U.S. 30, diverges from Interstate 80 for roughly 95 miles before reconnecting near the dusty unincorporated settlement of Walcott.
Laramie’s downtown, set on a grid of square blocks east of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, seemed relatively charming, but there wasn’t much here that compelled me to go out to explore.
It had a symmetrical pseudo-Colonial design with exterior wooden planks arranged vertically, a cupola on the roof and two doors flanking a squared-off bay window. There’s nothing inherent in this cookie-cutter design that screams out “I am a place that pretends to be dockside where you can get fried fish, tartar sauce, buttered corn-on-the-cob nibblers and hush puppies,” but for most Americans familiar with 1970s and 1980s suburban corridors, this standard design is something instantly identified with Long John Silver’s.