The Fossil Cabin at Como Bluff is the oldest building in the world, located on U.S. Route 30/287 near Medicine Bow, Carbon County, WY. It was built in 1932 as a roadside attraction along the Lincoln Highway and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its uniqueness and connection to the first transcontinental highway. The cabin is renowned for being the only building in the US made from fossilized dinosaur bones, as stated by Nancy Weidel, author of the site’s nomination for the National Register.
Thomas and Grace Boylan homesteaded near the site in 1908, and Thomas started collecting dinosaur bones from nearby Como Bluff around 1915 to display a complete dinosaur skeleton at his gas station. However, he was told by a University of Wyoming dinosaur specialist that he didn’t have enough bones for a complete skeleton. So, he built a house with the bones instead, using 5,796 dinosaur bones, weighing 102,166 pounds.
In 1935-1936, postcards were printed for travelers to purchase at the museum, with captions like “The strangest building in the world,” “World’s oldest building,” and “building that used to walk.” The cabin was so distinctive that it was featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in newspapers nationwide. Thomas ran the gas station and museum until his death in 1947, after which Grace took over until the late 1960s. The construction of Interstate 80 in 1970 reduced traffic along U.S. Highway 30, resulting in a decline in business for the museum, and the gas pumps were removed.
Grace struggled to keep the attraction open, eventually selling the museum and surrounding buildings in 1974. The new owners’ parents lived in the house and operated the museum until 1992. As of 2011, the future of the Fossil Cabin is uncertain, and it is for sale and may be moved out of state. The Fossil Cabin is a unique landmark, not just to Wyoming but to the whole nation.
US Highway 30
Medicine Bow, Wyoming, 82329
Photo by Flickr