History & News

A Rock Springs man died in an all-but-forgotten overseas conflict

A bronze statue of a doughboy raising his fist in the air stands in Bunning Park.A list of names are cast in bronze. Gus John PVT is one o fthe names listed.A group of many uniformed men march in cold weather uniforms.War Bond Propoganda poster. A Cecho-Slovak soldier and American soldier walk side by side in a snowy scene. Text reads: 'Our soliders in Siberia! They've gone over the top for us. Let us go over the top for them. Buy war savings stamps.'

Photo #1 - The Spirit of the American Doughboy in Bunning Park in Rock Springs. It bears the names of the Sweetwater County servicemen who died in World War I.


Photo #2 - Private Gus Johnson, Company A, 31st Infantry Regiment, is among the names on the Doughboy.


Photo #3 - U.S. troops in Siberia during the military intervention there, officially titled the American Expeditionary Force, Siberia.


Photo #4 - Americans were encouraged to buy war bonds to support the troops in Siberia. Posters like this painted a rosy picture of conditions there, and references the Czech Legion’s drive to escape Russia and rejoin the fighting in Europe.


(Sweetwater County, Wyo. - September 29, 2022)     A Rock Springs soldier was among the Americans killed in Russia in a little-known chapter in U.S. military history.

World War I began in August of 1914, with the Triple Entente of Britain, France, and Russia on one side, and the Central Powers of German and Austria-Hungary on the other. 3½ bloody years later, on April 6, 1917, the United States entered the war on the side of the Entente. By that time, Russia was in chaos. First, the Romanov dynasty that had ruled Russia for 300 years came crashing down, and only nine months later, the Provisional Government that replaced it was itself overthrown by the November (Communist) Revolution. The new regime, led by Vladimir Lenin, made peace with the Central Powers and took Russia out of the war.

What followed next was six years of horrific anarchy and civil war in Russia, principally between the “Whites,” (anti-Communist forces led primarily by Admiral Alexander Kolchak), and the “Reds,” comprised of the Bolshevik (Communist) forces that had usurped the Provisional Government. At least six million combatants and civilians died; many historians put the death count as high as nearly twice that.

Encouraged by the other Allied leaders, President Woodrow Wilson sent military expeditions to northern Russia and eastern Siberia to secure the Trans-Siberian Railroad and huge Allied supply caches, (there were about 725,000 tons of such goods and equipment in Vladivostok alone), and to aid the 40,000 soldiers of the Czech Legion - Czech and Slovak volunteers who fought on the side of Russia against the Central Powers. The Legion was stranded in Russia when Lenin pulled out of the war, and strove to travel by train the 9,700 miles to Vladivostok, there to take ship for transport to the Western Front to resume their fight against Germany and Austria. It was also hoped that, in some manner, alternatives to Communist rule could be created. Inevitably, that would lead to clashes with Red troops.

Ultimately, nearly 8,000 American troops served in Siberia from 1918 to 1920, including elements of the 31st Infantry Regiment. Private Gus Johnson of Rock Springs, born in Sweden in 1886, was among them, a member of “A” Company.

As described in The American Legion, 100 Years, 1919-2019, a very special project of the High Desert Chapter of the National Society of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, “On 25 June 1919 his [Johnson’s] platoon of 75 soldiers was attacked at Romanovka near Vladivostok at sunrise while sleeping in tents by a 400-man Red Russian unit. Twenty-five men in his unit were killed, 25 were wounded, and 25 withstood and repelled the attack with reinforcements, the greatest single loss of American lives in Siberia.” Johnson was among those killed. On September 1, 1919, he was interred at the San Francisco National Cemetery at the Presidio.

While the Czech Legion was successfully extracted from Russia, by every other measure the American intervention was far less successful. The supplies stockpiled in Russian ports were lost, and no progressive, non-Communist government was established. The last American troops in Siberia were withdrawn on April 1, 1920. In total, 189 soldiers died there, from all causes.

In Bunning Park in Rock Springs stands a century-old statue:   The Spirit of the American Doughboy. It is a monument that honors the veterans and casualties of World War I and bears the names of the servicemen of Sweetwater County who died in that conflict. Among them is Private Gus Johnson, A Company, 31st Infantry Regiment, the only Sweetwater County man to die during the 1918-1920 American military intervention in Siberia.

New article about the first “Green River” available online

Map showing the extent of Green River County, Utah Territory and the location of Green River City, what is today the City of Green River, Wyoming.A sketch of the Green River with hand written notes indicating the claim to 640 acres at the Green River Station. Tape holds sections of it together at the seam. Text reads: 'The COC & Express Companys Claim at Green River is bounded as follows to wit. The South East Corner is Situated on the bottoms on the west side of Green River and witnessed and followed from Stone set in the earth marked with cross on top (+) West three degrees north to Telegraph Post Marked (W) on East Side Eleven chains three links (11 chains 3 links) from said stone north sixteen & half degrees to old stove chimney three chains ninety one links (3 ch 91 lks.) Said corner is situated on green River near the ferry crossing known as Martin’s Ferry and on the line of the Pacific Telegraph, Thence running west and one mile. Thence north one mile then east one mile. Thence south one mile to place of beginning containing six hundred and forty acres of land in the County of Green River and Territory of Utah.
I hereby certify that the above survey and diagram was made by me on the 14th day of January A.D. 1862 by order of Isaac E. Eaton general superintendent of the aforesaid company and for their special benefit in accordance with section one act of Congress entitled an act of making appropriation for Services of Post Office department during the fiscal year ending 13th day of June A.D. 1846 and approved on the 3rd day of March A.D. 1855'A picture of rock piles in a sagebrush steppe scene. All that remains of the Green River Stage Station at the site.

Graphic #1 - Green River County, Utah Territory, was huge, extending nearly 250 miles from northern Utah to Bridger Pass, not far from present-day Rawlins.


Graphic #2 - A sketch from 1862 laying claim to 640 acres at Green River Station, now in the possession of the Wyoming State Archives in Cheyenne. Note that the original Transcontinental Telegraph Line also crossed the Green River at the site.


Photo #1 - Not much now remains of Green River Station.  (Emilio Sanchez photo)


(Sweetwater County, Wyo. - August 25, 2022)      The county seat of Sweetwater County was not the first community in Wyoming named “Green River,” according to a new article on WyoHistory.org.

“Crossing the River at Green River Station,” by Dick Blust of the Sweetwater County Historical Museum staff, tells the story of Green River Station, a tiny settlement that served as a stage stop, Pony Express station, ferry, and ford located dozens of miles upstream from the city of Green River.

What is now Sweetwater County was once in Green River County, Utah Territory, created in 1852, and existed until 1868, with the establishment of Wyoming Territory. Green River Station was one of a number of fords and ferry sites across the Green used by emigrants traveling the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails, as well as stagecoaches and Pony Express riders.

The Station was home to the first Post Office in what would later become Sweetwater County, established in 1853, as well as “‘five stores and one Indian wigwam, which served as a saloon,’ as well as six cabins where people lived, including the station keeper, stagecoach drivers, riders, and stock tenders for spare horses.”

Little is now left of Green River Station, which faded away and died in the years after the railroad arrived in Sweetwater County in 1869.

WyoHistory.org, a project of the Wyoming State Historical Society, is an extensive online resource for articles and information on Wyoming history.

Located at 3 E. Flaming Gorge Way in Green River, the Sweetwater County Historical Museum is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free.

County Museum and Rocket Miner at work on new photo book project

Advertisement for the Sweetwater Memories project.


(Sweetwater County, Wyo. - August 12, 2022)     The Sweetwater County Historical Museum is working with the Rock Springs Rocket Miner and Pediment Publishing of Vancouver, Washington in the creation of a special book titled Sweetwater Memories:   A Photographic History of the Early Years. Pediment  is compiling and scanning vintage photographs depicting life in Sweetwater County from the 1800s through 1939, including a wide selection of photos from the museum’s collection.

A Pediment editor will be in Green River working with museum staff next week. A special date and time slot - Friday, August 19, from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM - has been set aside for county residents with old photographs of their own who would like to bring them to the museum to have them scanned and considered for publication in the new book.

The museum is located at 3 E. Flaming Gorge Way in Green River. Please call (307) 872-6435 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions about the Sweetwater Memories project.

The first Mountain Man Rendezvous was in Sweetwater County

Modern image depicting the site of the First Rocky Mountain Rendezvous near Mckinnon. A large area of sagebrush blends into buttes in the background. There are no obvious signs of manmade structures.Sign marking the historic site of the 1825 Rocky Mountain Rendezvous near McKinnon.Map depicting the site of the rendezvous on the Henry's Fork.A painting depicting a large number of people in various forms of dress including traditional hide outfits.The Musuem's exhibits relating to the Fur Trade.

Photo #1 - Site of the first Mountain Man Rendezvous, in southern Sweetwater County


Photo #2 - Interpretive sign near the site of the 1825 Rendezvous not far from McKinnon, in Sweetwater County, Wyoming


Photo #3 - Location of the 1825 Rendezvous on Henry’s Fork


Photo #4 - Rendezvous Near Green River, by Alfred Jacob Miller, depicting the 1837 Rendezvous not far from what is now Daniel, Wyoming, at the confluence of Horse Creek and the Green River. Miller was the only painter ever to record a Rendezvous firsthand.


Photo #5 - The Sweetwater County Historical Museum features exhibits on Native Americans, mountain men, and the fur trade


(Sweetwater County, Wyo. - July 26, 2022)    With this year’s Fort Bridger Mountain Man Rendezvous at Fort Bridger in Uinta County scheduled for September 2 through September 5, the staff at the Sweetwater County Museum in Green River issued a reminder on Tuesday that the first Rendezvous was held in 1825 in what is now Sweetwater County.   

Organized by fur trading companies, Rendezvous were staged every year from 1825 to 1840 at different locations in Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho. Mountain men, trappers, and Native Americans gathered to sell their furs, trade for supplies, and celebrate.

That first rendezvous was staged on Henry’s Fork, three miles northeast of Burntfork and about 40 miles southwest of Green River. Mountain man James Beckwourth provided a description:

“ ...there was a general jubilee among all at the rendezvous, We constituted quite a little town, numbering at least eight hundred souls, of whom one half were women and children. There were some among us who had not seen any groceries, such as coffee, sugar,& c., for several months. The whisky went off as freely as water, even at the exorbitant price he [William Henry Ashley, co-owner of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, for whom the Ashley National Forest is named] sold it for. All kinds of sports were indulged in with a heartiness that would astonish more civilized societies.”

The Museum’s gallery includes exhibits on Native Americans, mountain men, and the frontier-era fur trade. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and there is no charge for admission.