Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Memoir: Green River Bridge

As winter approaches I asked myself what do I remember about growing up in Green River in the wintertime? I thought hard and only "cold" memories came to mind. It can get over 100 degrees in the summertime and below zero in the winter, quite a contrast wouldn't you say? I do remember several but one in particular I would like to share with you. In the winter there are certain spots on the river where you can actually walk out onto the ice and not fall in because it's frozen solid. It was here that we would ice skate. I never did although I owned a pair of ice skates. I learned later in life how to skate. As for me and my sister, we would slide around on the ice with our boots and still have just as much fun. 

The river holds so many memories for me and my family. I guess you could call my family river rats because we were always on the river. Back in the late 60's there use to be a race from Green River to Moab (Pot Ash). I remember my Father and Uncle winning the race one year. They were going so fast my Uncle would have to literally lay on the front of the speed boat to give it more weight so they didn't flip. The trophy was a beautiful piece of wood with a gold statue on top. It was huge! Anyone would be proud to have won it. The boat was just as beautiful, it was a typical speed boat for back in the 60's but the best part was the color - metallic purple. That must be the reason why my favorite color is purple. It was a beauty. The race ended a year or so later and the Friendship Cruise was born; an event held every year where people would take their boats down the river with guides. My Father was on rescue; thus meaning anything that happened he would help out folks or fix their broken-down boat. 

I thought it might be interesting for everyone to understand how important crossing the Green River was way back when so I did some research, asked my Mom tons of questions and came to know that the indians in the area were the Shoshone Indians. They called the river the Seeds-kee-dee-Agie, or Prairie Hen River. The mountain men called the river this name for quite some time. It wasn't until the Spaniards came along and renamed it to Rio Verde or Green River that the name was solidified in stone. As far as the color of the river actually being green, well that depends on your eye sight or where you are standing and what time of day. If you are on the water it looks brown, no two ways around it. The stories I read about how the river got its name are just that, no one really knows how the name Green River came to be. The best reason I can tell you having grown up there is, if you are standing at Dead Horse Point and look down at the river it has a green hue to it. Perhaps this is what the Spaniards saw so many years ago.

The river is 730 miles long, of which 450 miles run through Utah. It is in fact Utah's major stream. In an earlier post I explained that Green River started out as supply point where trappers and mountain men would come and restock. Soon after came the explorers, Spaniards and eventually those trekking westward. It was just a matter of time before the river was used as a crossing for the U.S. Mail, next came the railroad. In 1883 the Rio Grande Western Railroad line was built and a train station was opened in Green River.

Until the first crossing bridge was built in 1910 many used the ferry service that was available. The crossing bridge completed what the railroad had started for Green River. It now boasted three hotels, a general store, and 15 saloons. There was even an opera house at one time.

The bridge was such a monumental moment in history for Green River because it industrialized the town and put it's name on the map. From a small watering hole to a full scale town, Green River was quite the place in the late 1800's and early 1900's. I located some amazing pictures to share with you. I love the picture of all the people coming together to celebrate the opening of the original bridge in 1910. There are some of the collapse of the bridge and the reconstruction. A few even have the bookscliffs visible in the background. I hope you enjoy!