Green River City started as a river crossing for the U.S. Mail. In 1876, Mr. Blake set up a ferry on the East side of the river and a way station. It became a stopover for travelers with a ferry for transporting people and animals across the river.
Thomas Farrer and his family were the first settlers in Green River. They lived in a willow hut on the east bank of the river. The family later moved to the west side of the river where water for irrigation was easier. Both sides of the river were called Blake. In 1883 the railroad was built and set up a station. The spike was driven at the Desert Switch approximately 10 miles northwest of Green River. The west side of the river became known as Greenriver. That spelling was later changed to Green River. The east side of the river became known as Elgin, and is still referred to by that name today.
Green River City was originally an agricultural area with farms up and down the river, several are still in production and raise melons, alfalfa and corn. Green River has gone through booms and busts, from railroad, to uranium, to missile base, to uranium. Now tourism is the city's principle industry.
The railroad has played a major role in Green River's history. In 1880 this small town of only three families boomed into a tent and dugout town from workers coming to build the bridge and the road bed for the railroad. Green River became a fueling, watering stop for the railroad, with switching yards and engine sheds. Since there were no dining cars in those days, a hotel, called the Palmer House was built, and became the scheduled meal stop, for trains from both directions for many years. Green River enjoyed the railroad boom until 1892, then the railroad transferred most of its operations to Helper, Utah. The population of the town declined significantly.
In the late forties and fifties, until the sixties, (when the uranium boom ended, followed by a brief recovery in the seventies), uranium played a significant role in the economy of Green River. Several trucking companies hauled the ore from the mines, in the Four-Corners Mining District west of Green River, mines in the San Rafael Swell, the Henry Mountains and all the way to what is now Lake Powell.
The U. S. Air Force, built the Green River Launch Complex, just out of Green River, 1964. It was an annex of the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range. From 1964 to 1973 the U. S. Air Force launched 141 Athena Missiles from the Green River launching area, near the Crystal Geyser. From those firings research was done to improve nuclear missiles.
Now Green River City is the ideal base camp for your adventures on the Green River, into the San Rafael Swell, The San Rafael Desert, The Bookcliffs, or Gunnison Valley. It is a Central Location, for touring the Grand Circle. Reasonable rates at Motels, Restaurants, Fast Food, Fuel and Groceries. Green River has all services 24 hours a day. Grey Hound Bus Stop, Amtrak Stop, Shuttle Services and Airport, are transportation services available for your travel and convenience.
From Native Americans, to Early Explorers, to railroaders, to farmers, to Outlaws, to Cowboys, to Mining, to Missiles, to boaters and tourists, Green River has seen and enjoyed them all..
For More Information visit the Green River Archives