The Union Pacific Railroad is both the framework and inspiration for the city of Green River. Bisected by the UP main line, Green River grew up around the rails. The chuffing of steam locomotives and the horns of diesels have echoed from the bluffs above the town since the railroad arrived in 1868.
People came to Green River from all over the world to work on and around the Great Iron Way. Lives lived on the line range from a 14-year-old boy who swept floors at the depot, retiring more than forty years later as stationmaster, to a machinist who spent his entire working life in the same Green River shops after coming home from World War II.
The railroad brought the outside world into Green River. Hollywood stars were spotted in the depot, generating nearly - but not quite - the excitement of a water stop for the elephants of the Barnum and Bailey Circus train. Artist Thomas Moran painted numerous versions of his “first sketch of the west” showing the escarpments of Tollgate Rock and the Palisades, drawn after stepping off the train in 1870. Explorer John Wesley Powell dropped his three small boats from rail cars directly into the Green River in 1869 to begin his intrepid trip into the last unexplored waterway of the American West.
The rumble and clack of steel wheels on rails and the resonant tones of the horns are the song of Green River - the constant melody of life in a transcontinental railroad town.