History of Rawlins, Wyoming

Rawlins, Wyoming is located in south-central Wyoming along the busy 1-80 corridor. Situated on the cusp of the Continental Divide and on the border of the Red Desert, Rawlins has a unique beauty and is a great base for year-round outdoor recreation. Nestled at the base of unique geological uplifts, Rawlins’ beautiful historic downtown is the focus of several major revitalization projects headed by Rawlins DDA/Main Street. The charming atmosphere of small boutiques, first class restaurants, casual eateries, and beautiful parks welcomes residents and weary travelers alike to relax. We invite you to wile away the day by enjoying our beautiful architecture and shopping opportunities.

Rawlins, originally Rawlins Springs, sprung up on the edge of the Red Desert as a last chance stop for water on the Continental Railroad before the long dusty stretch across the frontier. General Rawlins, scouting for water stops for the railroad in 1867, found a fresh spring and remarked it was the sweetest water he’d ever tasted. He went on to say that if anything was ever named for him he’d like it to be a spring of water; hence the name Rawlins Springs. The town’s remote position on the edge of the Red Desert made it a perfect location for the first state penitentiary; staff, supplies and inmates could be brought in by train but escape in the desert would be difficult. The town has since established itself as a small, comfortable oasis on the frontier. An abundance of trees, friendly people and beautiful architecture has lifted Rawlins out of its former moniker of ‘prison town’. Now the town prides itself on its diverse population, multicultural heritage, small town values and the beautiful traditions that make us unique.


For more information on the local history of Rawlins and Carbon County

Please visit the Carbon County Museum  or any of the other 10 museums and historic sites in our county