An ancient inland sea, surrounded by lush vegetation and inhabited by dinosaurs, helped create the mineral-rich landscape where Rock Springs, Wyoming, now sits. French trappers first encountered American Indians who were traveling via a natural corridor that traverses the region, and eventually pioneer trails used this same route in the great westward expansion. The First Transcontinental Railroad arrived in 1868, and the national demand for energy in the form of fossil fuels turned everyone’s attention to the vast coal deposits. Thus the frontier outpost of Rock Springs became an important energy center, and immigrants from around the world came to work in the mines and make this land their home. As local businessman Leonard Hay used to say, “All wealth comes from the earth.” Today other minerals have joined coal as new sources of wealth for Rock Springs, and plans are being made to harness the wind that carved out this unique landscape.
About the Author
Russel L. Tanner and Margie Fletcher Shanks are Wyoming natives whose families were early settlers in this region. Educated in Wyoming, both have extensive experience in research and photography. The authors collected images for the book from the archives at the New Studio, the Rock Springs Historical Museum, the Sweetwater County Museum, and several private collections.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments 6 Introduction 7
1 Red Desert Corridor: Passage Across an Ancient Landscape 9
2 Wealth from the Earth: Mining and Ranching 19
3 Everyday Life: A Diverse Community 37
4 Bricks and Mortar: Scenes around Town 65
5 Local Merchants: Commerce and Services in Early Rock Springs 83
6 Faces of Rock Springs: People Make the Place 109 Bibliography 127