As you drive on Interstate 80 in the state of Wyoming, unending miles of flailing, wind-swept prairie is all you see on either side of the road. The environment is vast, lonely, and cold. Signs of human life are rare and far between. The environment is rough and ruffled and almost looks like purgatory. This vast emptiness can be boringly unnerving. It can also be quite a thrill and a welcome escape from the bustling cities of modern civilization. About 30 minutes east of Laramie, on exit 335, and an equal distance west of Cheyenne, is Buford town that’s arguably America’s smallest. It sits on only about 10 acres, or 0.015 miles, and is literally in the middle of nowhere.
But the most unique factoid about this empty town is its population size. While New York boasts a population of 8.8 million, Bufford town boasts a population of one person. It also has an impressive elevation. At about 8, 000 feet, Buford emphatically looks down on New York, whose elevation is a paltry 33 feet above sea level.
The History of Buford Town
Though the evening of 14th April 1865 was cold, It was warm and lively inside the Ford Theatre, located on 10th Street Washington DC. At about 10.00 PM, John Wilkes Booth, dressed almost completely in black, stole inside the Presidential Box and fatally shot Abraham Lincoln. The Great Old Abe, years back while in Springfield Massachusetts, had witnessed how railroads had positively transformed the socio-economic life of his Illinois home state. He had also successfully represented railroad companies while practicing as a young attorney. So it was only natural that when he assumed the reins of power, he would initiate the establishment of a transcontinental railroad.
However, there was an intense conflict between the Southern states and the Northern states with regard to suggested railroad routes. After Lincoln’s death and the end of the Civil War, disagreements were almost completely eliminated and decision at the Congress level was near-unanimous. Later, Vice-president Andrew Johnson assumed the reins and continued with Lincoln’s railroad project as part of the reconstruction efforts. The official route would now pass through the mountainous state of Wyoming. A small thriving settlement, mainly composed of railroad workers, would later settle on a point along the railroad that would later be known as Buford. The reasons for this fairly fast settlement are varied. But one salient reason was the presence of a military outpost. At its height, Buford teemed with a population of over 2,000. However, when the outpost was moved to Laramie, and the County seat transferred to Cheyenne, Buford’s population waned and withered. Today, it’s a ghost town.
The name Buford itself is a name that’s intertwined with Civil War history. John Buford was a decorated soldier who gallantly fought for the Union during the Civil War period. His role in the victory is huge since he is the one credited with having delayed the Confederate soldiers so that the Union could secure the militarily strategic location of Gettysburg. Because of its subsequent impact on victory, this may have been the most important battle of the Civil War. John Buford’s 9-foot bronze statue now stands west of Gettysburg on Chambersburg Road.
Attractions In Buford, Wyoming
Inside this abandoned town, and between the two lanes of the highway, is a thin pine tree that seems to grow from the top of a rugged boulder. If traveling to Buford or through it, travelers can pull-aside, read the wooden plaque, and admire the oddly growing tree. While the age of this tree is not recorded, pine trees have been known to live for over two millennia.
There’s also the pyramid of the Ames brothers, Oakes and Oliver Ames. This 60-feet stone pyramid stands stubbornly if a little somberly, some few miles of Interstate-80 at the Vedauwoo exit. The barren spot on which this monument was erected is the highest point of elevation (8,247 feet) on the entire Pacific Union route. The brothers were influential in financing and directing the construction of the railroad. However, their reputation would be irreparably soiled when their activities proved to have been fraudulent. While the brothers hoped the railroad project would bring them enduring fame, infamy was their true harvest. After their disgraceful death, the Union Pacific railroad company constructed this desolate monument in their memory, perhaps to salvage their reputation.
- Direction and Distance: Ames Brothers Pyramid is 25 km east of Lamarie (Appro. 16 miles). To get to it, travelers should take Exit 329 off I-80.
A cemetery is not anyone’s idea of an attraction. It can sober up the most sanguine of human souls. Still, there’s something mystic that draws us to cemeteries. The Old Sherman Cemetery is a place travelers through Buford may want to pay a visit to. The desolate graveyard is situated on a spot of a town that is also dead. The railroad gave birth to Sherman town in the 1860s. The movement of the railroad marked its death. Today, there’s not a single building in the once inhabited town. Only old, rusting cans speak faintly of life that once was.
- Direction and Distance: 92 meters from the Ames Brothers Monument on 41° 8.129′ N, 105° 24.03′ W. and on Hermosa Road (County Route 222).