Green River had a Sawmill
April 8, 2015
(Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the Green River Star in 1992.)
Green River had a sawmill from the time of the origin of the town in 1868 and operated up until 1920 when the Union Pacific Railroad expanded its railroad yards to the east.
The sawmill was located on the north bank of the Green River just above the mouth of the Bitter Creek.
There were five enterprising men that could foresee the future of the local area. In 1867, Charles Deloney contracted with the Union Pacific Railroad Company to furnish ties for the railroad. He began his timber operation in the fall and winter of 1867-68 in the upper Green River country. He made the first tie and saw timber drive down the Green to Green River City in the spring of 1868.
Three other enterprising men, H.M. Hook, mayor of Cheyenne, James Moore of Cheyenne and S.I. Field were the leaders of the squatters at Green River City. These men obtained the land at this location from the Overland Mail Company. They said the mail contractors had secured, from the U.S. Congress in 1862, a land grant which ante-dated the Union Pacific Railroad Acts of 1867. S.I. Field platted and laid out the original town that is known as Green River No. 3. The construction of Green River City began the first of July, 1868.
The other enterprising man was Judge Carter of Fort Bridger, who built two sawmills, one on Black’s Fork near Fort Bridger and one on the Green River near the mouth of the Bitter Creek. He could see the need for lumber in the building of the railroad and the construction of towns and for the need of mining timber in the coal mines. These sawmills were steam operated.
The original Green River City buildings were constructed of adobe brick where were made at a site near the present location of the Zumbrennen Tire Service, Inc.
The Frontier Index of Aug. 11, 1868 reported that “music of the carpenter’s tools are everywhere heard above the din and bustle of business. The two sawmills of Judge Carter, on the Black’s Fork and another one on the Green River, do not supply the demand for finishing lumber alone.”
The Frontier Index also reported Green River City’s first election on Aug. 11, 1868, the incorporation of the Green River City, Carter County, Dakota Territory on Aug. 26, 1868, that Green River City had a population of over 2,000 on Sept. 11, 1868, and the arrival of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks on October 1, 1868.
As reported in the Green River Star, the tie and saw-log drives came down the Green River every spring to the boom at Green River to supply the Union Pacific Railroad Company with ties and saw-logs for the sawmill. These drives came from the upper Green River region, which included the Horse Creek, Cottonwood Creek, Piney Creek, LaBarge Creek and Kendall areas.
The Green River Star also reported that logs and saw-timber were hauled into the Green River sawmill from the Little Mountain and Pine Mountain areas in south central Sweetwater County. This is very evident at the present day, when one travels in these areas. These old-cut over areas on Pine and Little Mountain can be observed today where these areas are being revegetated with fir, pine, aspen and understory brush. Also old stumps and logs can be found.
The Green River sawmill furnished the area with the finished lumber to build many of the early homes as well as the mine timbers and lumber for area coal mines until 1920.
The Green River Star reported the Union Pacific Railroad extending the east yards in 1920 and moved the channel of Bitter Creek to the south next to the bluff at its present day location. The Green River sawmill was demolished and the site destroyed to increase trackage for the Union Pacific Railroad yards to the east.
Green River did have a lumber and sawmill industry in its past history.