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Aeriel Green River

Green River: A History of Booms & Busts

Green River has traditionally been known as a way-station, a crossing-point, a pit-stop, but this unique village is more than just a place to pause. Like most towns, it has been shaped by many events that have dramatically impacted the shape of the city and its residents. Green River has a rich past full of booms and busts.

The history of Green River begins before the settlement era since it was the most accessible crossing point on the Green River south of the Uinta Basin. The Old Spanish Trail forded the river about three miles upstream from the present town, as did the 1853 railroad survey under the direction of Captain John W. Gunnison. The site’s accessibility also made it a natural staging and supply point for travel on the river. the City of Green River started as a river crossing for the U.S. Mail. Settlement began in the late 1870’s in the form of Blake Station on the overland mail route between Salina, Utah, and Ouray, Colorado. The first permanent settlers of European stock were the families of Thomas Farrer and Matthew Hartman. The Farrers played a leading role in the community for several decades, operating a general store, a bank, and a ferry service.

The railroad has played a major role in Green River’s history. In 1880 this small town of three families boomed into a tent-and-dugout town with workers coming to build the bridge and the road bed for the railroad. The completion of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railway in 1883 made Green River a shipping point for livestock and mining equipment and supplies. Green River became a fueling and watering stop for the railroad with switching yards and engine sheds. Since there were no dining cars in those days a hotel (called the Palmer House) was built, and it became the scheduled meal stop for trains from both directions for many years. The influx of railroad workers gave the town 375 residents by 1890, in addition to a fluctuating population of cowboys, sheepherders, and prospectors from the Book Cliffs and the San Rafael Desert. The town’s location on the “outlaw trail” between Robbers Roost and Browns Park also contributed to its “wild west” reputation during that period. Green River enjoyed the railroad boom until 1892 when the railroad transferred most of its operations to Helper, Utah, cutting the population in half. Today, only the Amtrak passenger train stops in Green River, Utah.

An oil boom in 1901 brought a rush to locate claims and some drilling activity but no commercial production. In 1906 a land developer named E.T. Merritt began promoting Green River as a fruit-growing area comparable to the Grand Valley of Colorado. Several hundred acres of peach trees were planted on both sides of the river, but problems with the irrigation system and harsh winter temperatures killed most of the trees before they could come into production

In the late 1940’s through the 1960’s (when the uranium boom ended followed by a brief recovery in the 1970’s) uranium dominated the economy of Green River. Several trucking companies based in Green River hauled the ore from the mines in the Four-Corners Mining District, the San Rafael Swell, the Henry Mountains, and near Lake Powell.

The U. S. Air Force built the Green River Launch Complex (the new Area 51?), just outside of Green River, in 1964. It was an annex of the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range. From 1964-73 the U. S. Air Force launched 141 Athena and Pershing Missiles from the Green River launching area, near the Crystal Geyser. From those firings research was done to improve nuclear missiles. The Launch Complex brought the town’s population to a high point of almost 2,000 before the closing of the complex in the 1970s led to yet another economic downturn.

Each of these boom cycles had some lasting impact upon the community. The “Farrer Subdivision” that makes up the southeastern portion of the town was a product of the railroad era. The “upper town” to the north and west was developed during the peach boom, a period that also saw the incorporation of the town in 1906 and the building of a high school in 1910. The Community Presbyterian Church was also established during this period. A Latter-Day Saint ward was organized in 1904, disbanded in 1915, and reestablished in 1923. During the uranium boom, Jim Hurst developed an innovative flying service to carry workers and supplies to remote mining locations. The successors to Hurst’s operation now carry on an active business flying river running parties. The “missile base” era brought new schools and civic services and saw the Community Church become the Green River Bible Church. Catholic and Baptist worship services were also instituted during this period. Unfortunately, these booms and busts have put the city into the mindset that it has to wait for something to come along in order for things to change. So, what will the next boom be… the nuclear power plant?

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Information taken from: Emery County Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Castle Valley: A History of Emery County (1949); Emery County Historical Society, Emery County, 1880-1980 (1981) and the City of Green River website.

Slipper-arch

Slipper Arch

This Arch is in the north fork Coal Wash. Coal Wash is is the San Rafael Swell. You will need a jeep or 4 wheeler to get to it.

Lat/Long (WGS84)
38° 55.951′ N
110° 48.821′ W

San Rafael Swell

San Rafael Swell

The San Rafael Swell is Utah’s fastest growing tourist destination. Most of this huge area is open to the public and adventures are left only to the visitor’s imagination. The Swell is 2,000 square miles of public land, known for its scenic sandstone formations, deep canyons, desert streams, and expansive panoramas. The Swell is a massive maze of winding canyons, broken fins and buttes in the heart of Utah.

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Little Spotted Wolf Canyon

Little Spotted Wolf Canyon

Directions
From Green River, UT, take Interstate 70 west approximately 15 miles. Turn south across the highway on a dirt road after mile marker 145, go through the gate (make sure you close it) and go a little over a mile, on the west there will be a place to park off the road and you will see Little Spotted Wolf Canyon about a quarter mile from the road.

Lat/Long (WGS84)
38° 54.271′
110° 26.793′

 

Mecca Bike Club

MECCA Mountain Bike Club

Thank you for your interest in the San Rafael Swell Mountain Bike Festivals. From the beginning, the Festivals have been geared to a wide-range of mountain biking enthusiasts – from the novice to the seasoned; from the occasional to the frequent; from the single rider to the family of riders; and from the rider(s) whose sole interest is the picturesque surroundings to the rider(s) whose sole interest is in the merits of the bike. Rides vary in degree of difficulty, each offering a different perspective of the beautiful San Rafael Swell. There really is a ride for every interest.

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Buckhorn Wash

Buckhorn Wash

Buckhorn Wash is in the San Rafael Swell in central Utah. The Buckhorn Wash breaks through the Navajo Sandstone and works its way down through towering Sandstone cliffs as you make your way to the San Rafael River. Signs along the drive tell you the names of the different sandstone layers. There are several panels of pictographs and petroglyphs along the road, making the road a delight for sight seers, geologists and anthropologists.

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Little Wild Horse Canyon

Little Wild Horse Canyon

Little Wild Horse Canyon is 58 miles from Green River. The Little Wild Horse Canyon/Bell Canyon loop hike is the most popular hike in the San Rafael Swell for good reason. The canyons are two of the best slot canyons in Utah. This hike is suitable for just about everyone. If you enjoy a long walk in the park than you can probably complete this hike with little problem. The canyons can be hiked individually for a short distance or connected together to provide an easy half day loop hike.

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Swaseys Cabin

Swasey’s Cabin

Swasey’s cabin was built in 1921 by the Swasey Brothers (Joe, Sid, Charley, and Rod). The Swasey’s started running cattle and horses out of the area decades before they finally built the cabin, usually sleeping in the open or in shallow caves. The Swasey’s are responsible for naming many landmarks in the Swell, including Joe and His Dog, the Sid and Charley pinnacles, Rod’s Valley, Eagle Canyon, Sid’s Mountain, Cliff Dweller Flat, and more. Considered outlaws by many, their exploits were remarkable, including the one that occurred at a place appropriately named “Swasey’s Leap” where Sid, as the story goes, bet his brother Charley a small herd of cattle that Sid, on horseback, could jump 12 feet across the San Rafael River. Of course, the river was at the bottom of a gorge, 80 feet below! Sid was successful, and the cows were his.

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New Star Trek

Star Trek – The Movie

Planet Vulcan filmed in the San Rafael Swell

Below is an article from the Salt Lake Tribune about a part of Star Trek being filmed 20 miles from here, in the beautiful San Rafael Swell!

Just off I-70: The planet Vulcan

Movies: Emery County is backdrop for Spock’s homeworld.

When the film crew came to Emery County last year, the project bore the unassuming title of Corporate Headquarters.

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