Roller Skating in the Old West

In History of Wyoming, T.A. Larson writes that roller skating rinks operated in Wyoming cities in the 1880s. They were popular with adults as well as youngsters, and in the eastern U.S. as well. I suppose most rinks in Wyoming had wooden floors, the same as most sidewalks of the 1880s.

Wyoming has cold winters, but the plains have few ponds for ice skating.  Indoor roller skating rinks provided fun all winter long. Imagine — cowboys roller skating on their trips to town.


7 thoughts on “Roller Skating in the Old West”

  1. Interesting to me because there’s a long rollerskating scene in the movie, Heaven’s Gate (1980), which is set in Wyoming. I never knew that was authentic. Thanks!

  2. Growing up in Minnesota during the late 40s, I learned to ice skate quite proficiently. My dad was a teacher. My mom stayed home with us kids. So we didn’t have much money – especially for entertainment and certainly not kids’ sports. (There weren’t any soccer moms and car pools in those days.) So we’d shovel off the pond and ice skate. Then I tried a roller rink and was a lost cause with no blade edges to maneuver and no saw tooth tips to avoid the other skaters. I only tired it once and then went back to my free neighborhood pond.

    1. I sure had a different experience growing up in southern California! I roller skated on suburban sidewalks, but ice skating was so hard! My ankles would turn and I’d have to hold onto the railing. I guess I’d have improved if I’d done it more often. But, an ice rink cost money. Opposite of your Minnesota childhood, Judith.

  3. In DeKalb, Illinois, where I grew up, we used to skate on “the Lagoon,” part of the campus at Northern Illinois University. I don’t know if they still do it, but it was fun. There was a stone bench to sit on while you laced up your skates, and a big fire to warm your toes by. Mostly, though, I was out on the ice.

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