The gas station is gone. The one surviving grocery store has cut back its hours. Even the school may be closed.
Albin, population 128, a little wheat and potato farming town 50 miles northeast of Cheyenne, is creeping slowly toward oblivion.
Therefore, few people here now mind, and many are rather pleased, that the most potent concentration of destructive force in the world is scheduled to move in next door.
After searching the nation for a home for the MX intercontinental ballistic missile, now renamed "Peacekeeper," the Reagan administration settled on the gently undulating, snowy high grasslands of Wyoming in this peaceful, patriotic corner of Laramie County.
For many here, the 100 missiles and the 3,500 construction workers expected to install them could not come a moment too soon.
"This town needs something to boost it," said Corrine Domina, 42, waiting for customers to come into the little town grocery.
There is some opposition, however -- by environmentalists; the state's Roman Catholic bishop, who opposes the MX on moral grounds, farmers concerned about the drain of water sources and citizens worried about the problems of a sudden boom town.
Albin signals its presence on the flat, mile-high plateau with a tall water tower and grain elevator, plus clumps of trees sticking naked branches into the pure blue sky.
Its population has shrunk as big growers and ranchers have pushed out the small farmers.
A few stray cattle along the road from Cheyenne break the monotony of grass and snow, but there is also something else here--about a dozen Minuteman III missiles resting beneath the earth within five miles of the town.
The Air Force has looked at sites for the proposed new MX "Dense Pack" -- 100 missiles buried in deep silos in a strip 14 miles long and 1 1/2 miles wide -- along a stretch of plateau beginning just north of Cheyenne and ending just west and south of Albin.
On Monday, a Pentagon spokesman here indicated the Albin area looked best, but more studies would be necessary.
Politicians here and in other western states have made it clear that Wyoming was picked because of its open desire for the missile base, its familiarity with missile systems dating back to the Atlas missiles of the 1950s, and an apparent unconcern about the threat of Soviet atomic warheads raining down on the plateau to destroy the American threat.
"It doesn't make any difference if they write on your tombstone if you were killed while they were shooting at a Minuteman or an MX," said Bill Budd, president of the Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce.
Budd said he estimated that the construction crews would bring in $70 million a year in added income during the six years beginning in 1984 in which the base would be built.
Ruby Berryman, Albin town clerk and school secretary, said she hopes more children will come to the area "because we have been threatened with the loss of our school because we only have 100 kids."
Mike Sorensen, 27, who runs the town grain elevator, remembers when "the town had two or three gas stations, a barbershop and two grocery stores."
Like many other town residents, he said he would like to know more details about the missile project, but he is a staff sergeant in the Air National Guard and supports President Reagan's efforts to build up American defenses.
Cheyenne was founded in the last century by railroad engineers and U.S. Army officers. Relations between townspeople and the 3,700 uniformed military personnel at Warren Air Force Base at Cheyenne remain unusually warm and close.
The 90th Strategic Missile Wing at the base would control the MX missiles, as it now does the 200 Minuteman missiles scattered about the area where the borders of Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska meet.
"Everybody is rather excited about the new mission," Air Force 1st Lt. Jeffrey Rich said of the Dense Pack plan.
Environmental groups, which are relatively weak, have raised objections to the project, and the Roman Catholic bishop for Wyoming, Joseph Hart, has had a letter read in all churches here opposing it on moral grounds.
"Somebody along the line has got to say enough is enough and we have got to stop the arms race," Hart said.
He said there had been an 80 percent favorable response to his comments, but only about 15 percent of Wyoming residents are Catholic and even the Catholic chaplain at Warren defended the pro-missile views of his military parishioners.
State Sen. Richard Larson, an Albin potato farmer, said he supported the missile plan but wanted to make sure the federal government did not use too much of the area's scarce water supplies.
Farmers who might have to sell land for the project, he added, also ought to receive fair settlements.
Albin town council member Norman Jacobsen, 47, who has lived here all his life, said that when the Minuteman sites were constructed 20 years ago lots of workers came in and lived in trailers for a while but almost all later left.
He said he does not know if the town could afford the $400,000 to $500,000 it would take to construct a new trailer park and he was concerned by how little information had been provided so far about the project.
What he fears, Jacobsen said, "is that Cheyenne is going to get all the glory and we're going to have to put up with all the riff-raff."