History & News

From Wyoming to Australia - two museums share a special connection


(Sweetwater County, Wyo. - February 5, 2021)     The Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River recently discovered that it has a unique cultural and historical link to another museum on the other side of the world.

The County Museum recently published an article and Facebook post about the huge silk dragon used in parades and processions by the Chinese community in Rock Springs well over a century ago. All that remains of the dragon now are carefully-preserved photographs and its grapefruit-sized glass eyes, currently on exhibit in the museum’s gallery.

Barely a day later the museum was contacted by the Golden Dragon Museum in Bendigo, Australia, north of Melbourne, which is recognized as the Chinese Cultural Center of Australia. Museum staff there saw the article and, as it turns out, they have in their collection a Chinese parade dragon of their own made by the same workshop in Guangdong Province in China in the early 1890s.

The County Museum’s former director, Brie Blasi, made the connection with a remarkable photograph depicting the back of the Rock Springs dragon’s head, bearing Chinese characters that identified its maker but were difficult to decipher. The museum’s current director, Dave Mead, enhanced the photograph to make the characters legible, making translation possible:  the Sing Cheung Workshop of Foshan (Fatshan), about 100 miles northwest of Hong Kong, which also made the Bendigo Dragon, whose name is “Loong,” meaning “dragon.”

The Golden Dragon Museum’s staff calls the Rock Springs Dragon a “brother” to Loong. It was brought to Rock Springs by Ah Say, an important figure in the Rock Springs Chinese community who served for years as an interpreter and liaison between the Chinese miners and the Union Pacific, and for whom a street in Rock Springs is named. Some say he obtained the dragon at the Chicago Exposition in 1893, but it is also reported that he purchased it the following year at the San Francisco Mid-Winter Fair (officially the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894.)

To view a short video featuring Chinese processional dragons from the Golden Dragon Museum in Bendigo on parade, go to

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Loong+golden+dragon+museum&docid=607992461541310749&mid=6F960B5CC3573B2F1B3D6F960B5CC3573B2F1B3D&view=detail&FORM=VIRE .

The County Museum’s gallery features an extensive exhibit on the historic Chinese community in Rock Springs, including the infamous Chinese Massacre of September 2, 1885, during which at least 28 (and as many as more than 50) Chinese miners were killed by a mob of white miners.

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

In Rock Springs, Chinese Lunar New Year once marked with parades - and candy


(Sweetwater County, Wyo. - February 3, 2021)    

February 12, 2021 marks the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year, which was celebrated by the Chinese community in Rock Springs in the 1890s and the turn of the 20th century with parades that featured the Dragon Dance, when a huge silk dragon 140 feet long and borne by dozens of men wound its way through the streets of the town. 

In the collection of the Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River are photographs of the Chinese parade dragon, and among the museum’s most prized possessions are the dragon’s large glass eyes, over 125 years old, which are on display in a special exhibit about the Chinese in Sweetwater County.

Museum staff recently discovered another photograph of the place and the time:  a portrait of a man named Lee Me Him, posing proudly in front of his drug store in Rock Springs’s Chinatown, circa 1895.

Lee Me Him made many of his own medicines, using traditional Chinese recipes. Though many  of his customers lived in Chinatown, during the New Year celebrations Rock Springs children from throughout the town came to his store for Chinese candy, for them a fine treat. 

See more photos on the Museum's Facebook and Instagram.

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

New Museum Exhibit at the Eden Valley Community Center


(January 7, 2021 - Sweetwater County, Wyo.) 

A new exhibit from the Sweetwater County Historical Museum is now on display at the Eden Valley Community Center in Farson.

"Celebrating Historic Eden Valley" provides vivid images of early life in the Farson-Eden area, including photographs of the Eden Valley Hotel, the first school bus in the valley, the old Whitehair Hall, and members of the Farson-Eden Women's Progress Club. Local residents will recognize many of their ancestral family and friends in the exhibit.

Settlement of Eden Valley began in 1907 as a result of the Carey Act. Also known as the Federal Desert Land Act, this legislation was introduced in Congress by Senator Joseph Carey of Wyoming. The act was designed to encourage agricultural development in semi-arid western states by creating irrigation projects. These projects were managed by private companies, including the John M. Farson Sons & Company, for whom the community of Farson is named.

Most of the photographs in the exhibit are from "Eden Valley Voices: A Centennial Celebration of Stories," published by the Sweetwater County Historical Museum in 2008. The book is a compilation of historical accounts of life in the valley, and is available at the museum and through other book sellers.

Sweetwater County Commissioner Lauren Schoenfeld, a Farson native, provided support for the production of the exhibit. Stephanie Neese, the Eden Valley Community Center's caretaker, helped install the exhibit and praised it as "awesome."

To schedule a visit to the Eden Valley Community Center and check out the County Museum's exhibits, contact Stephanie at (307) 371-9298.

Christmas Eve at the Emery House, 1901


(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.