History & News


A large exhibit panel meant to look like a city welcome sign. The sign says Welcome to Crossroads Change in Rural America. Where people meet, ideas intersect, and change is constant.
September 14, 2021
The Sweetwater County Historical Museum’s new special exhibit, “Crossroads: Change in Rural America,” is now open at the Green River Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center. The exhibit is presented in cooperation with Wyoming Humanities / thinkWY and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.
“Crossroads” examines the evolving landscape of rural America, and will open and on view through October 24, 2021. There is no charge for admission.
The Sweetwater County Historical Museum and the communities of Sweetwater County were expressly chosen by Wyoming Humanities / thinkWY to host “Crossroads” as part of the Museum on Main Street program—a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. “Crossroads” explores how rural American communities changed in the 20th century. The vast majority of the United States landscape remains rural, with only 3.5% of the landmass considered urban. Since 1900, the percentage of Americans living in rural areas dropped from 60% to 17%. The exhibit looks at that remarkable societal change and how rural Americans responded
The elaborate exhibit, which covers over 750 square feet of floor space, is part of Museum on Main Street, a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), state humanities councils across the nation, and local host institutions. In addition to Sweetwater County, “Crossroads” will tour five other communities in Wyoming through June 18, 2022; the Homesteaders Museum in Torrington, beginning October 2021, the Laramie County Library in Cheyenne, in January 2022, the Nicolaysen Museum at Casper College, February 2022, the Homesteader Museum in Powell, March 2022, and the Converse County Library in Douglas, May 2022.
To learn more about “Crossroads” and other Museum on Main Street exhibitions, visit www.museumonmainstreet.org.
An official grand opening for the exhibit is scheduled at the Visitor Center at 1155 W. Flaming Gorge Way for Friday, September 17, from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM, with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony at 5:30. Refreshments and snacks will be served, a cash bar will be available for those 21 or over, and the public is invited to attend.
The museum is also sponsoring “Music of the Community,” a combination concert and panel discussion emceed by Andrea Graham, a University of Wyoming Folkore Specialist, on Friday, September 24th, at the Broadway Theater in Rock Springs. Performing will be local talent ZamTrip, Sickamore Treezy, and Dave Pedri and the EIO Band. The doors at the Broadway will open at 5:30 PM, the panel opens at 6:00, and the concert will begin at 7:15. Admission will be free, and a cash bar will be available for those 21 and over.
You can see a preview of the exhibit here on our YouTube Channel.

County museum announces winners of scholarship program and essay contest

Essay winner Green River High School Junior Faith Duncan receives a giant check for $100 at the museum from Director Dave Mead and Richelle Rawlins-Carroll of the Sweetwater County Museum Foundation

Photo #1 - Sweetwater County Historical Museum Director Dave Mead and Richelle Rawlings-Carroll of the Sweetwater County Museum Foundation presented Faith Duncan with her $100 essay prize on Thursday. Faith is a junior at the Green River High School.

 Scholarship contest winner Jessica Petri receives a giant check for $1,000 from Director Dave Mead and Zaundra Hamilton of the Sweetwater County Museum Foundation

Photo #2 - Zaundra Hamilton of the Sweetwater County Museum Foundation and Dave Mead, director of the Sweetwater County Historical Museum, present Jessica Lee Petri her $1,000 scholarship prize for her essay  “Carnegie Capitalism: An Analysis of the Importance of Philanthropy in Maintaining a Free Economy.”


(Sweetwater County, Wyo. - August 6, 2021)     The Sweetwater County Historical Museum and its not-for-profit partner, the Sweetwater County Museum Foundation, have announced the winners of 2021's Scholarship Program and Essay Contest.

Scholarship Winner

Jessica Lee Petri of Green River, a new freshman at the University of Wyoming, won a $1,000 scholarship for her essay, “Carnegie Capitalism: An Analysis of the Importance of Philanthropy in Maintaining a Free Economy.”

Essay Winner

Faith Duncan, a junior at the Green River High School, submitted her essay entitled “How Local History Inspired Me to Use My Voice to Spread Change” and won a $100 prize.

Funding for the contest’s awards was provided by the Sweetwater County Museum Foundation.

The museum’s director, Dave Mead, joined the rest of the museum staff in congratulating the winners, whose essays will be published soon in the Rock Springs Rocket-Miner and the Green River Star.

In the Old West, photographers traveled the rails in highly mobile “photo cars”


- Two babies photographed in his photo car by W.A. Bradley, identified as twins, the “Cary Babies.” Bradley charged $3.00 per dozen for copies. - (Sweetwater County Historical Museum photo)

(Sweetwater County, Wyo. - July 20, 2021)       Frontier-era cameramen once roamed the west in special railroad cars configured as traveling studios called “photo cars.”

Photo cars were converted cabooses, fitted out with a small studio, a skylight for illumination, a darkroom, and living quarters for the photographer. Historians believe the first was J.B. Silvis, who began traveling the Union Pacific tracks in his photo car in 1870. His photo car made frequent stops, with people all along the line eager to have their pictures taken. Business was brisk and Silvis could make $100 per day. (His success did not go unnoticed by the criminal element. In Evanston, Wyoming, in 1881, he was awakened in his car one night by a burglar armed with an iron bar. Silvis shot the intruder, who fled.)

Silvis retired in 1882. In its collection, the Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River has portraits taken by another such roving photographer, W.A. Bradley, who continued operating the photo car until at least 1889.


The Sweetwater County Historical Museum is located at 3 E. Flaming Gorge Way in Green River. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and admission is free.

New firearms display at the Sweetwater County Historical Museum


(Sweetwater County, Wyo. - June 30, 2021)     A new firearms exhibit - the first in a series - is now complete and on display at the Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River.

“Single Action Revolvers” is the first of a planned series of exhibits titled “Firearms of the American West.” The exhibit features six vintage revolvers, a contemporary Ruger Vaquero,

and an Uberti reproduction of the Colt Walker of 1847, a huge pistol that was, arguably, the most important handgun in American history; a powerful, six-shot percussion revolver that

rescued the Colt company from certain bankruptcy.

The Walker reproduction and Ruger Vaquero are included in the exhibit to provide museum visitors the opportunity to handle a single-action percussion revolver as well as a cartridge revolver, if they so desire. Upon request, patrons can request the “hands-on” feature from museum staff, which includes a short presentation about single-action revolvers on the frontier.

Among the handguns in the exhibit are the .44-caliber Remington New Model Army percussion revolver that belonged to “Big Nose” George Parrot, and old west highwayman and cattle rustler. In 1878, Parrot and his gang murdered a Carbon County, Wyoming, deputy sheriff named Robert Widdowfield and Union Pacific special agent Tip Vincent in the wake of a bungled train robbery not far from Medicine Bow. Parrot was later arrested in Montana and returned to Rawlins, the county seat of Carbon County, for trial. He was sentenced to hang on April 2, 1881, but attempted a jailbreak, fracturing the skull of a jailer in the process. After the failed escape, a lynch mob took him from his cell and hanged him from a telephone pole.

Murderous in life, Parrott’s story was bizarre in death. Two doctors named Thomas Maghee and John Eugene Osborne took charge of Parrott's body after his death. The top of his skull was sawed off and is believed to have been used as an ashtray. Much of his skin was removed, tanned, and incorporated into a pair of shoes, which Osborne wore to his inaugural ball after being elected Governor of Wyoming.

Also included in the exhibit is a special display of Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office badges; some from the museum’s collection, and others on loan from Gary Bailiff, himself a retired Sheriff of Sweetwater County and Sweetwater County Commissioner, and Betty Blackwell of the High Desert Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The museum is located at 3 East Flaming Gorge Way in Green River. Hours are 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Tuesday through Saturday, and admission is free.