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History & News

LOCAL HISTORIAN RECEIVES SPECIAL AWARD

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September 11, 2019

A Sweetwater County historian received special recognition Saturday for her article about the history of the Green River railroad passenger depot.

At the Wyoming State Historical Society’s annual conference at the Museum of the Mountain Man in Pinedale, Brie Blasi, director of the Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River, received the Society’s First Place Non-Fiction Publication Award for her article “The Green River Passenger Depot: A Symbol of Community and Prosperity.”

Beginning around 1904, the citizens of Green River began pressuring the Union Pacific Railroad for construction of a new, up-to-date passenger depot for the town. In April of 1909, a petition sent to the U.P. calling for a new depot succeeded, and within two months Mayor Hugo Gaensslen received word that the railroad had approved construction, which was completed in 1910.

The new depot was huge and second in size in Wyoming only to the depot in Cheyenne. As described in Blasi’s article, “The impressive redbrick building consisted of three wings, the central wing being two stories tall and fronted by a 40-foot-long colonnade and arched entranceways. Inside, the building offered both travelers and locals a variety of services including a dining room, a café, separate men’s and women’s waiting rooms, bathrooms, ticket office, baggage rooms, and various offices for employees and passenger services.”

The now 109-year-old depot saw a number of modifications over the years and remains one of Green River’s most iconic buildings.

“The Green River Passenger Depot” can be found in Volume IV of "Echoes From the Bluffs," a collection of local history articles published by the Green River Historic Preservation Commission. "Echoes from the Bluffs" is available at the Sweetwater County Historical Museum and on Amazon.

The Wyoming State Historical Society was founded in 1953. As described in its mission statement, the Society is a “non-profit membership driven organization [that] encourages the study of Wyoming history. We believe to study the past is to understand the present and prepare for the future.” The Society’s website can be found at https://wyshs.org/ ; its encyclopedic Wyoming history website, WyoHistory.org, is online at https://www.wyohistory.org/ .

Since 1990, the Museum of the Mountain Man in Pinedale has been “preserving and interpreting the history of the Rocky Mountain fur trade.” For more information, visit its website at https://museumofthemountainman.com/ .

The Sweetwater County Historical Museum is located at 3 E. Flaming Gorge Way in Green River. The museum is currently operating under summer hours, Monday through Saturday, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Admission is free.

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2019 marks the 134th Anniversary of the Chinese Massacre

SEPTEMBER 2ND IS THE 134TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CHINESE MASSACRE

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SEPTEMBER 2ND IS THE 134TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CHINESE MASSACRE

August 31, 2019

(Note: The following article includes excerpts, photographs, and maps from a Sweetwater County Historical Museum piece about “Chinatown” and Camp Pilot Butte originally released in February of 2019)

Monday is Labor Day, a holiday for barbecues and outdoor activities, but it also marks the anniversary of the darkest chapter in Rock Springs history: the Chinese Massacre of September 2, 1885.

By the summer of 1885, there were just under 600 Chinese and less than half that number of white miners working in the coal mines in and around Rock Springs. Tensions were high because the Chinese miners were willing to work for lower wages, which kept overall wages down and created resentment among the white miners.

On the morning of September 2, at the Number Six mine just north of Rock Springs, a fight between white and Chinese miners resulted in the death of a Chinese worker. Later in the day, a mob of about 150 white miners attacked "Chinatown," the section of town north of Bitter Creek where the Chinese miners lived, and set it on fire. More than two dozen Chinese were killed and the rest fled. All 79 of the Chinese shacks and shanties were destroyed by the mob.

To restore order and protect the hundreds of Chinese miners soon to be returned to Rock Springs under heavy army escort, Territorial Governor (and later United States Senator) Francis E. Warren arranged for soldiers of the 7th U.S. Infantry Regiment to establish a base sited between “Chinatown” and downtown Rock Springs. A new “Chinatown”was hastily built, the miners returned to work, and, by November 30, 532 Chinese and 85 white miners were producing about 1,600 tons of coal per day.

The army’s new post was dubbed Camp Pilot Butte and continued to be garrisoned until March of 1899, when the base was closed.

The Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River features a special exhibit on the Chinese Massacre, and "The Chinese Massacre at Rock Springs, Wyoming Territory, September 2, 1885," by Isaac H. Bromley, an excellent work on the subject, is available at the museum bookstore.

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Sweetwater County Historical Museum Closed on Labor Day

August 29, 2019
 
The Sweetwater County Historical Museum will be closed all day on Monday, September 2nd, in observance of Labor Day.
 
By the spring of 1894, some two dozen states had individually recognized a holiday that honored the nation’s workers, and on June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed the legislation declaring Labor Day a federal holiday to be celebrated annually on the first Monday of September.
 
Labor Day, 2019, is the 125th anniversary of the holiday, but it is still uncertain who actually came up with the idea. Peter McQuire, a carpenter who was co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, is credited by many, but so is Matthew Maquire, a machinist and secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.
 
The museum will return to its normal summer hours on Tuesday, September 3rd. 
 
The museum staff wishes everyone a happy and safe Labor Day!The Sweetwater County Historical Museum will be closed all day on Monday, September 2nd, in observance of Labor Day.
 
By the spring of 1894, some two dozen states had individually recognized a holiday that honored the nation’s workers, and on June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed the legislation declaring Labor Day a federal holiday to be celebrated annually on the first Monday of September.
 
Labor Day, 2019, is the 125th anniversary of the holiday, but it is still uncertain who actually came up with the idea. Peter McQuire, a carpenter who was co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, is credited by many, but so is Matthew Maquire, a machinist and secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.
 
The museum will return to its normal summer hours on Tuesday, September 3rd. 
 
The museum staff wishes everyone a happy and safe Labor Day!

Upcoming Events

Celebratet the 150th anniversary of John Wesley Powell's  launch from Green River, Wyoming to begin his famous 1869 expedition down the Green and Colorado Rivers. On May 22-34, the University of Wyoming and SCREE will also host a Saturday University with several intersting speakers about Powell and his impact. See Powell150.org for more info or our Facebook and Instagram pages. The museum will also have a very special Powell exhibit up soon, also featuring artwork from UW! Watch our social media pages for more info. 

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