William Bennett – Artist of Medicine Bow, Wyo. | TheFencePost.com

William Bennett – Artist of Medicine Bow, Wyo.

Anna Aughenbaugh
Fort Collins, Colo.

Bill Bennett of Medicine Bow, Wyo., created the intricate carvings and paintings on display at his bar and restaurant.

Friends had told us about the intricate carvings on display at the Dip Bar in Medicine Bow, Wyo., so when we were there to visit, we stopped in to see them.

One step inside, I told my friend Mary, “Wow! There’s a story here.”

Fascinating detailed western themed carvings fill glass display cases.

Paintings cover the ceilings, floors and tabletops.

I introduced myself to the man behind the counter, who turned out to be Bill Bennett. I asked if he was the one who did the carvings and would tell me about his artwork. He told me that he and his wife Joann got the Dip Inn at an auction 22 years ago. “The Olson’s built it for $420,000, the monthly payments were $5,000. In 1981 the mines in the area closed, so the daily receipts went from $1,000 a day to $100, making it impossible to pay the mortgage. There was just a bar and dance floor; we added the cafe.”

Bill began carving in the early ’70s while he was drilling at a local coal mine. After opening the cafe, he would carve when they had customers and painted when he had none.

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Using only a pocket knife, Bill carves his one of a kind creation from one piece of wood, with no parts glued. It has taken up to one year to complete some of his carvings. Basswood is his favorite wood to work with, but he also uses black walnut, redwood, butternut, hedge, mahogany, and Japanese pine.

Bill explained the paintings on the ceilings, “I stand on that paint splattered 12 foot step ladder. Each painting depicts ranches in the area. Rich people in England used to send their second and third sons here to learn the business of ranching. Tom and Jim Horn (no relation to the Tom Horn who was hung) were sent to the Shiloh Ranch in 1870.”

Bill’s granddad, Thomas Bennett, came to Wyoming from the east to ranch in 1891. Thomas’ saddle that he used when he carried the mail is displayed along with many other antiques that represent daily life years ago.

“Ranches that used to be run by five or six families have been bought up by rich people,” said Bill. “These families have been replaced by one hired hand.”

JoAnne is the cook at the family friendly cafe. The menu includes reasonably priced items like hamburgers, enchiladas, fish & chips, soups, salads and pie. The dining room atmosphere may turn the meal into an enjoyable two hour experience. Everywhere you look there are fascinating things to see that are great conversation topics.

It is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, except when they are on vacation. “We own it, and are at the stage in life where we need to go places while we still can,” said JoAnne. She enjoys fulfilling her creativity when she’s not working by piecing quilts. They are for sale, but not at the cafe. “I haven’t figured out how to keep them from absorbing food aromas.”

Medicine Bow is located northwest of Laramie on Highway 287/30. The Dip Bar Cafe is right on the highway on the west side of town. To see if the cafe is open, call: (307) 379-2312.

While there, a visit to the free museum, the Virginian Hotel and the cemetery will round out a delightful day of a step back into the Old West.

Friends had told us about the intricate carvings on display at the Dip Bar in Medicine Bow, Wyo., so when we were there to visit, we stopped in to see them.

One step inside, I told my friend Mary, “Wow! There’s a story here.”

Fascinating detailed western themed carvings fill glass display cases.

Paintings cover the ceilings, floors and tabletops.

I introduced myself to the man behind the counter, who turned out to be Bill Bennett. I asked if he was the one who did the carvings and would tell me about his artwork. He told me that he and his wife Joann got the Dip Inn at an auction 22 years ago. “The Olson’s built it for $420,000, the monthly payments were $5,000. In 1981 the mines in the area closed, so the daily receipts went from $1,000 a day to $100, making it impossible to pay the mortgage. There was just a bar and dance floor; we added the cafe.”

Bill began carving in the early ’70s while he was drilling at a local coal mine. After opening the cafe, he would carve when they had customers and painted when he had none.

Using only a pocket knife, Bill carves his one of a kind creation from one piece of wood, with no parts glued. It has taken up to one year to complete some of his carvings. Basswood is his favorite wood to work with, but he also uses black walnut, redwood, butternut, hedge, mahogany, and Japanese pine.

Bill explained the paintings on the ceilings, “I stand on that paint splattered 12 foot step ladder. Each painting depicts ranches in the area. Rich people in England used to send their second and third sons here to learn the business of ranching. Tom and Jim Horn (no relation to the Tom Horn who was hung) were sent to the Shiloh Ranch in 1870.”

Bill’s granddad, Thomas Bennett, came to Wyoming from the east to ranch in 1891. Thomas’ saddle that he used when he carried the mail is displayed along with many other antiques that represent daily life years ago.

“Ranches that used to be run by five or six families have been bought up by rich people,” said Bill. “These families have been replaced by one hired hand.”

JoAnne is the cook at the family friendly cafe. The menu includes reasonably priced items like hamburgers, enchiladas, fish & chips, soups, salads and pie. The dining room atmosphere may turn the meal into an enjoyable two hour experience. Everywhere you look there are fascinating things to see that are great conversation topics.

It is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, except when they are on vacation. “We own it, and are at the stage in life where we need to go places while we still can,” said JoAnne. She enjoys fulfilling her creativity when she’s not working by piecing quilts. They are for sale, but not at the cafe. “I haven’t figured out how to keep them from absorbing food aromas.”

Medicine Bow is located northwest of Laramie on Highway 287/30. The Dip Bar Cafe is right on the highway on the west side of town. To see if the cafe is open, call: (307) 379-2312.

While there, a visit to the free museum, the Virginian Hotel and the cemetery will round out a delightful day of a step back into the Old West.

Friends had told us about the intricate carvings on display at the Dip Bar in Medicine Bow, Wyo., so when we were there to visit, we stopped in to see them.

One step inside, I told my friend Mary, “Wow! There’s a story here.”

Fascinating detailed western themed carvings fill glass display cases.

Paintings cover the ceilings, floors and tabletops.

I introduced myself to the man behind the counter, who turned out to be Bill Bennett. I asked if he was the one who did the carvings and would tell me about his artwork. He told me that he and his wife Joann got the Dip Inn at an auction 22 years ago. “The Olson’s built it for $420,000, the monthly payments were $5,000. In 1981 the mines in the area closed, so the daily receipts went from $1,000 a day to $100, making it impossible to pay the mortgage. There was just a bar and dance floor; we added the cafe.”

Bill began carving in the early ’70s while he was drilling at a local coal mine. After opening the cafe, he would carve when they had customers and painted when he had none.

Using only a pocket knife, Bill carves his one of a kind creation from one piece of wood, with no parts glued. It has taken up to one year to complete some of his carvings. Basswood is his favorite wood to work with, but he also uses black walnut, redwood, butternut, hedge, mahogany, and Japanese pine.

Bill explained the paintings on the ceilings, “I stand on that paint splattered 12 foot step ladder. Each painting depicts ranches in the area. Rich people in England used to send their second and third sons here to learn the business of ranching. Tom and Jim Horn (no relation to the Tom Horn who was hung) were sent to the Shiloh Ranch in 1870.”

Bill’s granddad, Thomas Bennett, came to Wyoming from the east to ranch in 1891. Thomas’ saddle that he used when he carried the mail is displayed along with many other antiques that represent daily life years ago.

“Ranches that used to be run by five or six families have been bought up by rich people,” said Bill. “These families have been replaced by one hired hand.”

JoAnne is the cook at the family friendly cafe. The menu includes reasonably priced items like hamburgers, enchiladas, fish & chips, soups, salads and pie. The dining room atmosphere may turn the meal into an enjoyable two hour experience. Everywhere you look there are fascinating things to see that are great conversation topics.

It is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, except when they are on vacation. “We own it, and are at the stage in life where we need to go places while we still can,” said JoAnne. She enjoys fulfilling her creativity when she’s not working by piecing quilts. They are for sale, but not at the cafe. “I haven’t figured out how to keep them from absorbing food aromas.”

Medicine Bow is located northwest of Laramie on Highway 287/30. The Dip Bar Cafe is right on the highway on the west side of town. To see if the cafe is open, call: (307) 379-2312.

While there, a visit to the free museum, the Virginian Hotel and the cemetery will round out a delightful day of a step back into the Old West.