History & News

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.

Green River’s Wagon Bridge


(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.