Four hours south and east of Salt Lake City is Green River, Utah. Named after this major tributary of the Colorado River, Green River’s history can be traced to the early 1820-1850 Old Spanish Trail trade route’s river crossing at this location in the river. A ferry was originally used to transport people and commerce but by 1883 the Denver and Rio Grand Western railroad used this location as a fueling and watering station. This boom in town growth lasted until the 1890’s when the railroad moved a large portion of its operations. The town shrank until the 1940-1960’s when rich uranium deposits were mined and in 1964 the US Air Force established the Green River Launch complex to test Athena nuclear missles.
Today Green River’s location on the River at an Interstate 70 exit serves as a tourist stopover for mountain biking and river running on the Green River. A large natural gas field was discovered in the area and the town is a renowned melon growing region.
Green River State Park was our home for our 2 day stopover. This park is located on the Banks of the Green River and includes a well maintained golf course adding to the beauty of the park.
A highlight of this stop was a visit to the John Wesley Powell River History Museum. On May 29, 1869, Major John Wesley Powell began the last great exploration of unknown territory in what later became the continental United States. Powell was a civil war veteran with a profound interest in botany, geology, and biology.
Major Powell’s party embarked on their journey down the Green River from a small island in the town of Green River, Wyoming, near what today is called Expedition Island. Ten men manned four awkward, wooden boats not really suited for the long trip or the white water rapids to follow. Early accidents robbed the group of equipment and provisions. The explorers made their way down the Green past Flaming Gorge, which they named, to the confluence with the Colorado and into the Grand Canyon.
Prior to the start of our RV adventure I’d read Down the Great Unknown: John Wesley Powell’s 1869 Journey of Discovery and Tragedy Through the Grand Canyon by Edward Dolnick.
I recommend the read and the Museumn did a wonderful job chronicling this history as well as the history of those who followed Powell’s route up to current day rafters who trace the same treacherous route.