History & News

Museum announces scholarship program and essay contest 2021

(Sweetwater County, Wyo. - April 30, 2021)     The Sweetwater County Historical Museum and its non-for-profit partner, the Sweetwater County Museum Foundation, are sponsoring a Scholarship Program and Essay contest for 2021.

Scholarship Program

The Scholarship Program is open to Sweetwater County high school seniors who will attend a college program in the summer or fall of 2021. Participants will write and submit an essay of no more than 3,000 words - its theme: “How a Local Historical Event or Person Impacts my Life.”

The winning essay will be published in local newspapers and will earn a $1,000 scholarship.

Essay Contest

The Essay Contest is for Sweetwater County students in grades 10 and 11.  Each grade will feature its own participants and its own winner. Essays written and sent in by competitors can be no longer than 1,500 words. The subject: “A Local Historical Event That Inspires Me.” The winning essay in each grade will earn its writer a $100 prize and will be published in local newspapers.

Submissions for the Scholarship Program and Essay Contest must be sent or postmarked by June 1, 2021.

For more information, check the Museum website at


or contact Museum Public Engagement Coordinator Aidan Brady at (307) 872-6435, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Green River’s first cemetery


(Sweetwater County, Wyo. - April 15, 2021)      The Sweetwater County Historical Museum is researching Green River’s first cemetery, established in 1862 not far from the site of the Overland Trail Stage Station on the south bank of the Green River.

Last week a couple from Colorado, Stuart and Sue Stuller, came to the museum with a remarkable old photograph of a grave and headstone marked “Miss C.H. Kerfoot   Died Aug 13th   1865   Aged 16 Yrs and 6 mo.”  Stuart is a descendant of Cornelia “Neelie” Kerfoot, a frontier emigrant from Missouri who, according to family history, died on the Overland Trail in 1865 and was buried at Green River, Wyoming.

The Stuarts were hoping to locate Neelie’s burial site and asked museum staff for assistance.

Of particular interest and significance was the clear presence of White Mountain in the photo’s background, as seen from Green River’s south side. Neelie Kerfoot’s death and burial are referenced in several emigrants’ journals of their travels along the Overland Trail, which crossed the Green River at the Green River stage station ford at the current site of the Wyoming Game & Fish building on Astle Avenue. One such passage, from The Bridger Pass Overland Trail, 1862-1869, by Gilberta Bruning Erb, Louise B. Brown, and Ann Bruning Hughes, reads:

“Ruth Shackleford wrote in her 1865 diary that her husband, Frank, made a coffin for a young, popular member of the train. Neelie Kerfoot, who had died after many days of illness on the road. She was buried on the banks of the Green River close to the Green River Station.”

Another journal describes a graveyard at the site:

“August 5, 1865. We arrived at Green River about three o’clock. We crossed without accident or loss, and are camping on the west bank of Green River. There is a station here and soldiers’ tents within sight... At the foot of the mountain, a little ways from our camp, there is a graveyard with about a dozen graves. It is a beautiful spot, with the mountain for an enduring monument.”

In the 1980s, historian Jim June fixed the burial ground’s location at a spot a little over 400 yards east of the stage station site, on the edge of what by then was the City Horse Corrals. In his unpublished Sweetwater County History (1990), he writes:

“This site was used from 1862-1868, when Green River City was started and the arrival of the Union Pacific Railroad. This is the first known Green River cemetery. There is little known about this cemetery, with no known records of the persons buried there. It is apparent that most burials were by the emigrants and travelers of the Overland Trail.”

Years later, the Town of Green River established the Green River Cemetery at 300 North Elizabeth Street (now N 1st E Street), the present site of the Sweetwater County Library. Later still, by 1913, the town had purchased 80 acres of land from the U.S. government for a new cemetery, today’s Riverview Cemetery north of Interstate 80. In 1926, the N 1st E Street cemetery was excavated and its bodies and headstones moved to the new Riverview Cemetery for reburial. In 1944, when construction for returning veterans and their families began on the site, more remains were found; they, too, were moved to Riverview. 

The museum is continuing its research into the old “Overland Stage Station” burial ground.

Vintage revolver examined at County Museum may be part of a mystery

danny gun

(Sweetwater County, Wyo. - March 18, 2021)     

A budding historian brought a century-old handgun to the Sweetwater County Historical Museum for examination this week.

Six-year-old Danny Tuttle of Green River, a regular museum visitor, is the owner of a badly rusted revolver that was found hidden beneath a rock in the desert near Rawlins area by his great-grandfather, Jesse Lloyd Tuttle, in the 1940s. Museum staff determined the pistol to be a .38-caliber Iver Johnson Safety Automatic revolver, which first appeared on the market around 1896.

Iver Johnson placed particular emphasis on the revolver’s safety system, which prevented it from firing until the trigger had been pulled completely to the rear. Their slogan was “Hammer the Hammer,” and Iver Johnson ads featured a photo of the pistol’s hammer being struck with a claw hammer to graphically demonstrate its safety.

The Safety Automatic was not a top-shelf firearm. Its only real claim to fame is a morbid one:   Leon Czołgosz used one to assassinate President William McKinley in Buffalo, New York, in 1901.

There may be something of a mystery attached to Danny’s old pistol. Museum staff who examined it noted that had been badly and deliberately battered:   the trigger guard was bent upward, apparently an intentional act when the pistol was struck against a rock or other hard object, and the front sight was flattened, probably with a hammer or other blunt metal tool. “Add to that the fact that it was concealed beneath a rock,” said Dick Blust of the museum, “and it’s pretty clear the gun was hidden for a reason.”

The museum, located at 3 East Flaming Gorge Way in Green River, has an Iver Johnson Safety Automatic of its own currently on display. Museum hours are 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Tuesday through Saturday, and admission is free.

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

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.