History & News

A Reliance Snapshot

Picture of two men in front of a forge. Text reads: Blacksmith John Bastalich, at left, at work in Reliance in 1913. Born in what would become Yugoslavia in 1888, he and his wife Sophia had 6 children: Elynor, Lillian, William, Carl, James, and Eileen. The identity of the man at right is unknown.


Text reads: April 2, 2022. Museum Board meeting scheduled. The Sweetwater County Historical Museum Board of Directors will hold a special virtual budget meeting at 5:00 PM on Tuesday, April 5th. The public is invited to attend the meeting on GoToMeeting at goto.com. THose with questions are encouraged to call the museum at 307-872-6435.

The Sweetwater County Historical Museum Board of Directors is having a special budget meeting on Tuesay, April 5th at 5 P.M. via GoToMeeting. The link will be posted for the meeting.

A Rock Springs judge and his guns

Colt Model 1878 double-action revolver, a six-shot .45, engraved and fitted with a lanyard loop. The metal body of the weapon is covered in foliage like engravings.Nickel-finished Iver Johnson Second Model Safety Hammerless pocket revolver in superlative condition, once the property of Rock Springs pioneer David G. Thomas.A two-barreled Remington Model 95 derringer. It is much smaller than the other guns pictured.A black and white photo of Judge David G. Thomas in a suit, tie, and simple mustache.

Photo #1 - Colt Model 1878 double-action revolver, a six-shot .45, engraved and fitted with a lanyard loop

Photo #2 - Nickel-finished Iver Johnson Second Model Safety Hammerless pocket revolver in superlative condition, once the property of Rock Springs pioneer David G. Thomas

Photo #3 - An old west classic - a two-barreled Remington Model 95 derringer

Photo #4 - Judge David G. Thomas

(Sweetwater County, Wyo. - March 28, 2022)     Three classic antique handguns that belonged to a prominent Rock Springs pioneer were recently examined through the Sweetwater County Historical Museum’s Vintage Firearms Research Program.

David Griffiths Thomas was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1857 and came to Rock Springs as a young man in 1878, when he went to work for the Union Pacific Coal Company while he studied law on his own. After becoming an attorney, he went on to a long and distinguished career, serving as Prosecuting of Attorney of Uinta County, followed by service as County and Prosecuting Attorney of Sweetwater County, six years as State Coal Mine Inspector, a member of the last Wyoming territorial legislature, Superintendent of the U.P. Coal’s mines in the Rock Springs District, Mayor of Rock Springs, and Justice of the Peace. Judge Thomas died in his Rock Springs home in 1935, age 77.

Museum staff identified the largest of Judge Thomas’s three handguns as a fully-engraved .45-caliber, double-action Colt Model 1878 revolver, manufactured late in 1884. Colt’s single-action Model 1873 Single Action Army, the standard American army issue at the time, had been a major success and the Model 1878 was one of Colt’s early attempts to break into the double-action market. (A single-action revolver must be manually cocked for each shot; double-actions are fired with a long trigger pull.)  Colt produced just over 51,000 of the big pistols; production ceased in 1905.


Next was a five-shot Iver Johnson Second Model Safety Hammerless, a double-action revolver with a bright nickeled finish in .38 Smith & Wesson. The Safety Hammerless was a highly popular, inexpensive pocket revolver that fired only in the double-action mode. Judge Thomas’s Iver Johnson was manufactured around the turn of the 20th century. Modern shooters will take note of the revolver’s “trigger safety,” a feature today of many striker-fired semi-automatic pistols such as the Glock.

The third of Judge Thomas’s pistols was one of the most iconic and instantly-recognized of American frontier-era handguns, a two-barreled Remington Mode 95 derringer, manufactured from 1866 to 1935. Museum staff identified the Thomas derringer as a Type II, also called a “Model 3,” made between 1888 and 1911. The Model 95 was a two-shot chambered for the .41 rimfire cartridge. A single-action break-open with a rotating firing pin, it was easily concealed in a vest or pants pocket.  A short video illustrating how the Model 95 functioned can be found on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-owZZ3quUs&t=4s

Those with a vintage firearm (or firearms) who would like to learn more about are encouraged to contact the museum at (307) 872-6435 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

There is no charge for the Museum’s Vintage Firearms Research Program.


RS city hall lynching photo

March 23, 2022

A dark chapter in Rock Springs history is the subject of a new online article at WyoHistory.org.

“A Lynching in Rock Springs,” by Dick Blust of the Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River, is the story of Wade Hampton. On the evening of December 11, 1917, Hampton, an African-American man, was formally charged with the attempted rape of three white women in Blairtown. Six hours later he was taken at gunpoint from the City Jail in Rock Springs and shot to death after an attempt to hang him from a railroad bridge failed.

No one was ever charged with Hampton’s murder. Nor were any arrests made when, one year later, nearly to the day, a Black railroad porter named Edward Woodson was lynched by a mob in Green River after he fatally shot one white man and wounded another after a meal counter altercation at the town’s train station.

Lynchings of that time in Wyoming were not limited to Sweetwater County. One, in 1912, even occurred within the walls of the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins. But lynching has always claimed many times more Black lives than White. Writing in “Annals of Wyoming” in 2009, historian Todd Guenther noted that “During the years of 1904 to 1920, when the majority of Wyoming’s black lynchings occurred, none, not a single one of the hundreds of Wyoming Caucasians accused of similar crimes was lynched.”

WyoHistory.org is the Wyoming State Historical Society’s online project. “A Lynching in Rock Springs” can be found at


WyoHistory.org also features a story about the Edward Woodson lynching at


The old Rock Springs City Hall, Jail, and Fire Department is now the home of the Rock Springs Historical Museum. The Sweetwater County Historical Museum is located at 3 E. Flaming Gorge Way in Green River. Hours are 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Tuesday through Saturday, and admission is free.