The Green River Union Pacific Depot was once a grand symbol of progress for this railroading town straddling the banks of its namesake river.
In 1904, “some people were saying Green River was dying,” executive director of the Sweetwater County Historical Museum Brigida Blasi wrote in a 2014 article for the Green River Star.
Economic fears centered around the possibility of the Union Pacific abandoning Green River for the town of Granger to the west, according to Blasi’s account. The spectre of the railroad company pulling out had always hung over Green River, but it hadn’t happened, or hadn’t lasted long when it did.
In April 1909, town citizenry petitioned the company for construction of a depot. “We have a commodious Court House, a handsome Carnegie Library, a newly constructed Union Pacific Club House and the promise of a federal post office building,” the petition read. “If the Union Pacific will at an early date construct a suitable railroad station it will be a substantial proof that they are interested in the improvement of Green River.”
Construction began within months, Blasi wrote. By October 1910, the company offices were moved into the building from Ogden, Utah. The depot served both passengers and freight and held a dining room and cafe. The crow’s nest lookout seen on the roof in this photograph was added in the 1940s.
Today, the empty depot is undergoing a slow restoration process in hopes it can once again showcase the economic promise of the town. In 2014 the city received around $200,000 through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s brownfield program to clean up contaminants in the building. Roof repairs will likely come next, Blasi said by telephone on Thursday, but the city will need new grants to complete them.
Green River again faces regional economic change — the end of the line is in sight for southwest Wyoming coal mining and burning, an industry as cornerstone as the railroad. But Green River remains a railroading town. Raised along the tracks, Blasi “saw the community of Green River gather and grow around the built environment of a railroad town — the pedestrian overpass, the many businesses and of course the depot,” she wrote in 2015.