A taste of the Old Wild West.
The drive through eastern Wyoming to tiny Hartville can take a feller back in time to the good ole days of cattle rustlin’, homestead buildin’, and cruisin’ along the Oregon Trail at the breakneck pace of your oxen. In fact, the Wyoming State Highway 26 takes you right through the little old town of Guernsey, where you can take a side trip past the local school to a spot where you can walk along the well-preserved trail ruts along the Oregon Trail route. Pretty cool stuff.
After checking out that history and trying to read the 1840s graffiti left by wary travelers, you’ll probably be thirsty and want to find Miners and Stockmen’s for a little whiskey. To get there, you’ll take the old 270… otherwise known around these parts as the Hartville Highway. Don’t worry, the road looks a lot better than those trail ruts.
Note of caution: Check on the hours of operation before you show up!
Okay, so we knew this going in that Miners and Stockmen’s Steakhouse and Spirits had *very* limited operating hours.
And we knew that the day we planned on showing up they were not scheduled to be open.
But, we did contact the owners of the place and were assured by them that they would be there that day and would let us have a drink when we showed up.
We showed up and knocked on their door and got no answer other than their dog barking at us. Oh well, what were we to do? Well, what any other self-respecting Bars & Pars Quester would do: broke out our travel stash of Bud Light and had a drink at the bar’s doorstep. And, of course, took a look around.
What we found was, um.., interesting…
Let’s take a step back for a moment.
When you drive into tiny Hartville, you have to remember this is a town with a population of 76.
You read that right: 76.
And we really don’t know if that includes the cattle down at the end of Main Street. But it definitely less than the population residing in the nearby Boot Hill cemetery.
So when you’re on the Hartville Highway just be aware there are no exits and there are no options other than a U-turn if you miss the veer onto Main Street — which is probably the only real road in town.
Hartville itself if cool. There’s a post office and an abandoned storefront and not really much else. Until you get to the end of Main Street where you’ll find Miners and Stockmen’s. So this town is as old West as you can get.
Hartville was settled by copper prospectors and was rough and tumble back in its early days. Many cowboys met their end on Main Street outside of the old saloon and are buried up in at Boot Hill.
Hartville today is much calmer with the last shootout on Main Street having taken place back in 1912.
So after we cracked open a cold one, we walked around back of Miners and Stockmen’s to check out the area and stumbled across this beauty not more than 20 yards behind the place.
An 1880s drunk tank? Whaaaaaaat?!
And who knows… it looks well preserved enough to still be operational.
That’s all we had to see to understand it was time to take our leave and head out of town.
According to the research (and them), it is definitely the oldest bar in Wyoming.
Well, we didn’t actually get to drink inside Wyoming’s oldest bar, but we did drink there. And along the way we got some town gossip from a local in his pickup truck who stopped by to see what we were up to. All in all, a fun little trip on our Bars & Pars Quest.