With the Bighorn Mountains looming to the west and the orange-and-red neon sign of the restored WYO Theater as bright punctuation, Main Street in this north-central Wyoming town brings the Old West into the modern era.
Sheridan was founded in 1882, and more than 30 buildings along Main Street are still standing from its early decades. The Main Street area is a national historic district, but it’s no museum — Sheridan is a living community, and this broad avenue is its central shopping and strolling thoroughfare.
Named one of America’s “Great Neighborhoods” by the American Planning Association and one of “The West’s Best Main Streets” by Sunset magazine, Main Street has benefited from local historic preservation and design guidelines. Several downtown buildings have been renovated, electric lines were buried, period street lamps were installed, and a strong public-arts project was developed, with some 30 pieces on display around downtown.
Any visit to Main Street begins with the WYO Theater, which was built as a vaudeville venue in 1923 but closed its doors in 1982, seemingly for good. Then, town residents came together to save, renovate and reopen the theater. Today, it has a full schedule including performances by acts ranging from the Oak Ridge Boys and the Dance Theatre of Harlem to the Bolshoi Ballet, plus the Wyoming Theater Festival in September and films throughout the year.
Another must-stop on Main Street is King’s Saddlery, which includes the Don King Museum of Western and cowboy memorabilia.
Sheridan’s other neon landmark on Main Street is the bright-lit, multicolored cowboy on a bucking bronco that you can’t miss spotting above the corner in front of the Mint Bar. This 1907-vintage tavern stayed open during Prohibition as a soda shop and cigar store. Today, its walls are jam-packed with a memorable collection of stuffed game, historic photos and mementos.
The tavern’s website shares a quote from a touring musician: “The Mint Bar is the coolest thing about the great cowboy town of Sheridan, which is in a part of northern Wyoming that’s too cold and too remote for all the Californians to move there and ruin it.”
Photo credits (L-R): Sheridan Travel and Tourism, David Brossard, Jim Walsh, Gail Howard, Sheridan Travel and Tourism