head

History & News

Christmas Eve at the Emery House, 1901

emery1

(Sweetwater County, Wyo. - December 17, 2020)     

While searching through its photo archives recently, the staff at the Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River came across a unique holiday image from over a century ago - Christmas Eve at the Rock Springs home of one of the most important, yet largely unrecognized, figures in Wyoming history.

Ezra Lowman Emery - known as “Good Roads” Emery - was a groundbreaking civil engineer who mapped out an automobile roadway across southern Wyoming from Cheyenne, to Ogden, Utah in 1911 and 1912 along the corridor of the Union Pacific railroad line. What he called the “Transcontinental Highway” became the Lincoln Highway, which was officially christened in 1913. Later the route evolved into U.S. Highway 30, then Interstate 80.

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1866, Emery began his career as a Union Pacific civic engineer and soon moved to Wyoming. A tireless advocate of automobile transportation, he served as City Treasurer of Rock Springs to 1896 to 1899 and from 1900 to 1904 he was Rock Springs City Engineer.

Among the most treasured items in the County Museum's archives are Emery's scrapbook and photo album, which are filled with photos of his journeys.

The group photo shown here is marked “Christmas Eve 1901 - Ezra Emery Photo.” The people in the shot are identified as “Allie Huff Evans,” Penrose Reed,” “Mrs. Gray,” “Mrs. Ludwigsen, “Dr. Schafer,” “Newman,” “Minnie Durham,” “Mrs R. Harvey Reed,” and “Maude McCoy Emery.”  Ezra Emery is the moustached man at the bottom of the photo.

Emery went on to serve as Wyoming Assistant Commissioner of Public Lands, Chief Clerk of the Wyoming State Senate, and Field Superintendent of the Intermountain Good Roads Department, National Highway Association. At the time of his death in 1924, he and his family were living in Reliance.

Merry Christmas, Ezra. All of us who travel on what is now I-80 owe you a debt.

Green River’s Wagon Bridge

wagonbridgephoto2wagonbridgemapwagonbrdigephoto1

(Sweetwater County, Wyo. – November 25, 2020)      Built in 1896, the Wagon Bridge in Green River was the only non-railway span across the entire 730-mile length of that waterway until 1910.

The Overland Stage Route, established in 1862, crossed the Green River at the Green River stage station ford at the current site of the Wyoming Game & Fish building on Astle Avenue and a ferry operated downstream, but in the late 19th century Sweetwater County and the town of Green River agreed to put up $2,000 apiece to finance construction of a bridge. (Later, the town assumed the burden of an additional $675 in building costs.)  The bid was awarded to an Ohio firm:  the Wrought Iron Bridge Company, and the bridge that resulted was a “single-lane, two-span, iron structure with a wooden deck and wooden through truss, re-enforced with iron rods.”

The bridge greatly improved freight traffic to and from Green River to points south, including the Henry’s Fork and Lucerne Valleys and the areas around Ashley and Burntfork. Beginning in 1913, the newly-established Lincoln Highway (U.S. Highway 30) passed through Green River and across the Wagon Bridge.

In 1922 the Wyoming Highway Department (now the Department of Transportation) constructed a new highway bridge across the Green River west of the town and the Lincoln Highway was rerouted to pass through town along North 1st Street (now Flaming Gorge Way) to the new structure.

The present Uinta Drive/Highway 530 bridge was built in 1951. The Wagon Bridge was demolished as unsafe in 1954, but its remains can still be seen from the north side of the river where South 5th East Street ends, across the water to the south side and the Greenbelt.

County Museum launches antique firearms research service

gunpic2gunpic1

The Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River christened a new service on Wednesday - vintage firearms research.

“When it comes to guns, ‘vintage’ covers a lot of territory,” said Dick Blust, a museum researcher. “While a Sharps buffalo rifle from the 1870s is beyond question ‘vintage,’ so, in many respects, is a Smith & Wesson revolver manufactured in the 1920s or a Colt Model 1911A1 semi-automatic pistol made during World War II.”

The museum recently researched a badly rusted rifle found years ago in Uinta County that the owner had been unable to determine much about. It turned out to be a Winchester Model 1894 lever-action chambered for the .30 WCF (.30/30) cartridge with a 26-inch octagon barrel manufactured in 1903. The Model 1894, designed by John Moses Browning, was one of the most popular sporting rifles every manufactured; in fact, it’s still in production.

People with a vintage firearm (or firearms) who would like to learn more about them need only 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..

Blust said there will be no charge for the museum’s firearms research service.

COUNTY MUSEUM APPOINTS NEW DIRECTOR

dave
November 7, 2020
The Sweetwater County Historical Museum Board of Directors is excited to announce the promotion of Dave Mead to the position of Executive Director. Mead has been with the museum as the Exhibit Coordinator for eleven years. His exhibits have been admired in the museum and offsite at other locations across the county. Mead has led countless tours of the museum and downtown Green River, plus birding field trips and treks to historic trails sites.
The former Executive Director, Brigida Blasi, resigned in July to take a position as the Public History Educator at the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Blasi took the position of the Acting Director for the museum in 2015 and accepted the position as the Executive Director the following year. Blasi’s leadership led to many new projects, book publications, a strong online presence for the museum and countless other achievements. Under Blasi’s direction, the museum began hosting the popular History Fair, an annual hands-on learning experience attended by all the third-grade classes in the county.
From the first directives concerning COVID-19 protocol, Blasi led the museum staff in creating a safe environment for staff and patrons. The staff made adjustments to the museum floorplan to provide a safe experience for the public and created history-based backpacks of information for visitors to take outside the museum to explore. Museum staff also enhanced their online presence to include YouTube videos, virtual workshops, podcasts and increased social media posts.
Mead has been a vital part of the Museum staff under the direction of Blasi, sustaining vital operations and implementing positive changes. Recent improvements include moving the museum’s collections to a county-owned facility to ensure better storage and preservation of historic artifacts and archives.
Richelle Rawlings-Carroll, Museum Board of Directors Chair, expressed her confidence in the promotion of Mead to Executive Director. “Dave has built strong relationships with the members of the community as well as the staff at the museum. He is very cognizant of the needs in the county. Collaboration is a strong point for Dave within his staff and county entities. His creativity and enthusiasm will bring new ideas for celebrating the county history while helping to rebuild the economy through the tourism that the museum draws and public programming.”
November is a great month to visit the museum to meet the new director and view the Day of the Dead Ofrenda and other exhibits. A new holiday exhibit is also being developed for December.
The museum store is stocked with books and gifts and open for business, although browsing is limited due to COVID-19 precautions. Follow the museum on Facebook for Christmas present ideas and other holiday gift selections.
The Sweetwater County Historical Museum is located at 3 East Flaming Gorge Way, Green River, and is open 9-5, Tuesday through Saturday. Museum admission is free to the public. Please call (307) 872-6435 for research requests or more information.