Downtown Green River Walking Tour
Experience some of the historic buildings in Green River's Historic District. From 19th century expeditions to mid 20th century hotels there is something for every history fan.
Expedition Island Park, located in Green River, Wyoming, is the site where Major John Wesley Powell started two expeditions down the Green and Colorado Rivers to explore the remaining territory of the continental United States that was as of yet unexplored by European-Americans. The first expedition took place in 1869 (and no evidence has been found that departed from the island) and the second in 1971. The expeditions initiated a new scientific approach to study and manage the American West. New concepts of conservation, land and water management, and geological surveying, among others, began with the expeditions. The site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1968. The park is now a place for recreation.
On May 22, 1871 John Wesley Powell and his expedition launched the second expedition down the Green and Colorado Rivers. The three boats set off from this location, reports say that large portions of the town came to see the visitors off. Though neither journey was well-known at the time Powell's expeditions have gained significant notoriety more than a century later. Powell's reports would include a variety of surveying and map results, and a groundbreaking understanding of the watersheds of the Western United States. Most of his work was ignored, including his suggestions that the Homestead Act of 1862 did not take into consideration the realities of the watersheds west of the Mississippi.
This property was platted in 1877 under the Original Plat Green River. Local historian Jim June refers to it as the “Spinner House,” after the builder but it is also known as the Gaensslen house, referring to the long-time residents. According to histories that include this house, it was built in 1880 by Karl Spinner. It is reported that Spinner built the house to appease his wife, but they ultimately moved to Salt Lake City. Spinner sold the house and brewery to Hugo Gaensslen in 1891.
Constructed in 1900, the Sweetwater Brewery is a historic building located in Green River, Wyoming. It was designed by German brewer Hugo Gaensslen, who arrived in Green River around 1891. Gaensslen was inspired by the Chicago water tower and designed the brewery to have several castle-like turrets on facade of the building. Beer is no longer made there, but a bar, Sweetwater Brewery, is housed in the building, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
The Morris Mercantile was built in 1891 by Edward J. Morris. He was the son of Esther Hobart Morris who was the first female Justice of the Peace. Edward Morris was the first mayor of Green River. The mercantile served a number of roles including housing the general store, professional offices, the post office, and Morris State Bank. The building burned down in 1917. Construction of the current building started in 1919, the Stanley Hotel and Isis Theater opened in 1921. The theater remained open until the Star Twin opened on Uinta Drive.
In 1919 this landmark of downtown Green River was built by Thomas Welch and Dr. J.W. Hawk. The 3-story brick hotel got its name from the combination of the founders "Tom" and "Dr. Hawk". The building housed numerous businesses, and was the first business in Green River to use neon signage in 1929. A basement fire nearly caused disaster for the landmark.
Church services for The Episcopal Church of Green River were held in the courthouse in 1883. The St. John's Episcopal Church opened in 1892. It was the 3rd church to be built in Green River and the oldest local church still standing. The Episcopalians left the building in 1970. Beginning in 1976 the building was used a Senior Citizen’s Center until 1979 when it was purchased by the Casa de Oracion congregation.
Housed in Green River, Wyoming's former federal post office, the Sweetwater County Historical Society Museum preserves and interprets the natural and cultural history of southwestern Wyoming. It contains thousands of artifacts, a large historical photograph collection, and local research materials. The museum's exhibits explore the state's history from millions of years ago to the present day. The building itself was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.