History & News

New historical video about Bitter Creek now available

Left: Business owner Ed Varley sits in his Point of Rocks home. Right: A young Ed Varley in Bitter Creek rides a scooter.A historic skyline ini a black and white photo of Bitter Creek. Ed Varley and Eva Corson stand in front of the Bitter Creek Depot shortly before it is torn down. What is left of the Bitter Creek Skyline in 2021.Aidan Brady and Ed Varley sit at a table in front of recording equipment.

Photo #1 - Ed Varley today and as a boy in Bitter Creek


Photo #2 - Once a thriving community, very little is left of Bitter Creek today


Photo #3 - Public Engagement Coordinator Aidan Brady interviewing Ed Varley at Point of Rocks


(Sweetwater County, Wyo. - December 16, 2022)     A new YouTube video about the long-vanished community of Bitter Creek is now available online, the Sweetwater County Historical Museum announced on Friday.

About 34 miles east of Rock Springs, Bitter Creek once was home to a railroad depot, stockyards, huge sheep shearing sheds, a school, a post office, housing for Union Pacific employees, and the Varley Mercantile, but nothing remains now but a concrete water tower base, a tall, deteriorating water softener tank, and a few foundations.

Produced by museum staff and volunteers, A History of Bitter Creek, As Told by Ed Varley, can be found on the museum’s YouTube channel at


Varley and his wife Rae Dell are long-time Point of Rocks residents. He was born in 1936, grew up in Bitter Creek, and attended school there through the 8th Grade. After that, he attended the Rock Springs High School, graduating in 1954. He is the author of two books:  Bitter Creek Kid, and Grand Pa’s Stories - A Local History. Museum Executive Director Dave Mead and Public Engagement Coordinator Aidan Brady interviewed him at his Point of Rocks home. Afterward, Varley provided them a guided tour of the Bitter Creek site.

The interview made possible a rare,  and very personal, account of life in the little hamlet from the 1930s through the 1950s. By the early to mid-1970s, Bitter Creek was in its twilight - the Post Office there was discontinued in 1971, and the Union Pacific depot was torn down in 1974. Little remains now but memories, like those of Ed Varley.

A History of Bitter Creek, As Told by Ed Varley is part of the Smithsonian Institution’s “Museum on Main Street,” project, co-hosted by the Sweetwater County Historical Museum, Wyoming Humanities / ThinkWY, and the Green River Chamber of Commerce. The museum will always be grateful to Ed and his extended family for making the video possible.

American Heritage Center article:  Green River was not the original county seat of Sweetwater County

A black and white photo of a valley full of buildings, the once vibrant community of South Pass City in the 1860s.A black and white photo of a brick multi-story building with Green River's 'Castle Rock' in the background. Men in suits can be seen on the balcony an scattered before the building. The building is the historic Green River Courthouse, which was replaced in the 1960s with the modern building.A map of Wyoming showing 5 vertical stripes representing the 5 original counties of Wyoming, the third from the left was Sweetwater County.

Photo #1 - South Pass City, the original Sweetwater County seat, in the late 1860s


Photo #2 - The new Sweetwater County Courthouse in Green River, 1876


Photo #3 - Wyoming’s original five counties:   Uinta, Sweetwater, Carbon, Albany, and Laramie. Sweetwater County once extended all the way from the Utah/Colorado line to the Montana boundary.


(Sweetwater County, Wyo. - November 26, 2022)     The back-and-forth story of Sweetwater County, Wyoming’s two county seats - South Pass City and Green River - is the subject of a new article on the website of the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center, the Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River said today.

Gold was discovered in the area of what would soon become South Pass City in 1866. Prospectors and others rushed in, and within a year, the little boom town’s population had swelled to 2,000. In 1867, Carter County, Dakota Territory, (named for Judge William Carter of Fort Bridger), was established, and South Pass City was designated its county seat. In 1868, Wyoming Territory was carved out of Dakota Territory. In 1869, Carter County became Sweetwater County, and South Pass City continued to be the county seat. (In those days, Sweetwater County was immense, stretching all the way from the Utah/Colorado line in the south to the Montana border in the north.)

The Heritage Center’s “The ‘Peculiar Vibrations’ of the Sweetwater County Seat” picks up the tale of the political wrangling that followed. By 1873, South Pass City’s gold was swiftly playing out, and “the county commissioners started to discuss moving the county seat seventy miles south to Green River, which was a major town on the primary transportation route through both Wyoming and the nation: the Union Pacific Main Line or the Transcontinental Railroad. In the years leading up to the move, suffice to say some drama ensued.”

In 1874, Sweetwater County’s commissioners made the county seat’s move to Green River official, (at least for the time being,) but the die-hard residents of South Pass City weren’t going to give in without a fight. Over the next two years, county records moved back and forth between the two towns no fewer than five times. By 1876 the dust had settled and Green River’s new adobe-brick courthouse (and seat of county government) was completed. Finally, the transition was finished.

“The ‘Peculiar Vibrations’ of the Sweetwater County Seat” can be found at  https://ahcwyo.org/2022/11/14/the-peculiar-vibrations-of-the-sweetwater-county-seat/ .

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. There is no charge for admission.

County Museum sponsoring special World War II exhibit

Denny Pace a, WWII reenactor, stands in front of a large pile of items in uniform. 


(Sweetwater County, WY – November 4, 2022)  The Sweetwater County Historical Museum is sponsoring a special one-day exhibit on Saturday, November 12, in commemoration of Veteran's Day. 

Denny Pace of Green River has been a World War II reenactor for over 15 years. He has compiled an extensive collection of gear, clothing, and weapons used by American paratroopers of the Second World War era, particularly the 82nd Airborne Division, all of which will be on display at the museum. 

WW II paratroopers jumped with an incredible amount of gear and weapons, including an M-1 rifle or an M-1 carbine, a Model 1911A1 .45-caliber pistol, ammunition, fragmentation grenades, knives and a bayonet, a canteen, a shovel, a flashlight, maps, a compass, a three-day supply of K-rations, an emergency ration packet, a gas mask, a helmet, a first aid kit, a main parachute, a reserve parachute, and an anti-tank mine. 

The public is invited to stop by and check out this remarkable exhibit. The museum is located at 3 Flaming Gorge Way in Green River. Hours are 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Tuesday to Saturday, except for major holidays, and admission is free. 

The museum will be closed on Friday, November 11, in observance of Veteran's Day.

County Museum observes Native American Heritage Month

Several glass cases, wall poster labels, and miniature dioramas help tell the story of the early Native American history at the Sweetwater County Historical Museum.Four adults in traditional outfits sit and stand with two small children, one who is on a cradleboard. One woman wears a traditional elk teeth dress covered in elk tusks. Kate Enos sits in an elk teeth dress for her portrait.

Photo No. 1 - Among its many displays, the Sweetwater County Historical Museum features exhibits about Native Americans, marking November as Native American Heritage Month


Photo No. 2 - The late 19th-century photograph that set in motion a special research project:    Shoshone woman Kate Enos - upper left - and her sisters.


Photo No. 3 - The arresting solo portrait of Kate Enos in her dress adorned with elk tusks. Both this photo and the group portrait were taken by Charles S. Baker and Eli Johnston, who operated a photo studio in Evanston, circa 1880s. They were known particularly for their images of Shoshone, Arapaho, and Apache people.



(Sweetwater County, Wyo. - October 29, 2022)     November is Native American Heritage Month, and the Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River is marking it with its Native American exhibits and an article on WyoHistory.org about early 20th century events on the Wind River Reservation in Fremont County.

Recently a visitor to the museum inquired about an exhibit photograph of four Shoshone women and two children, a studio portrait probably taken in the late 1880s. Were the identities of the women and little ones known? That prompted museum staff to launch a research project, one that revealed their names:  Kate Enos and her sisters, Louisa Enos Wesaw, Mary Enos Rabbittail, and Emma Enos Lewis. There is a baby in a cradle board, believed to be Antoine Weed, and a little girl standing, Sousanna Weed, both of whom were Mary Enos Rabbittail’s children.

As the museum’s research progressed, it began to focus on Kate Enos, as also in the archives was a striking solo portrait of her in a dress studded with elk tusks, the mark of a prosperous Plains Indian family. Her story turned out to be a complex tale of mystery and murder, all grounded in the sordid history of misappropriation of Native American lands on the Wind River Reservation.

Kate’s life and the chain of events that led to the 1907 murder of her husband, Shoshone tribal council member George Terry in Fort Washakie, are the subject of a new article written by museum staff member Dick Blust, Jr.:  “Three Photos, a Murder, and a Murky Outcome: Troubled Times on Wind River,” which can be found online at WyoHistory.org, the online platform of the Wyoming State Historical Society at

https://wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/three-photos-murder-and-murky-outcome-troubled-times-wind-river .

For more information about Native American Heritage Month, go to the U.S. Department of the Interior website at


Located at 3 E. Flaming Gorge Way in Green River, the Sweetwater County Historical Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and there is no charge for admission.