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Rock Springs
Pop. 18,708 Elev. 6,271


As you approach Rock Springs, you can almost imagine travelers bouncing along the Overland Stage route toward the stage station that was the beginning of this southwestern Wyoming town. Rock Springs derives its name from a large spring that flowed from the rocks. The springs disappeared when the coalmine operations interrupted the underground flow but a monument now commemorates the location.

In the mid 1850s, US Army Captain Howard Stansbury and his party stopped at Rock Springs and made detailed reports of the large coal outcroppings. Days later, at Salt Wells to the east of Rock Springs, the Captain’s party learned from trappers that the Blair Brothers were working on the coal outcroppings in the site now known as Blairtown.

During August, 1868, the Union Pacific Railroad was completed to Rock Springs, and from that time on Rock Springs was the Central Terminal for the Stock herds being shipped to market on that side of the state. By 1875, the railroad was hauling supplies for the army, settlers had arrived, and the coalmines were working constantly.

Robert Parker ("Butch" Cassidy) spent some of his youth in Rock Springs, working in some butcher shops. It is believed that is how he got his nickname.

Rock Springs still has the largest coal reserves west of the Mississippi River. Rock Springs is also the center of the rapidly growing oil and gas production industry, power plant development, and the center of mineral resource development program that is marked by the continual expansion of the trona industry. Sweetwater County has been designated as the "Trona Capitol of the World".

As the most industrialized county in Wyoming, over half of the workforce in Rock Springs is employed by industry, principally mining, petroleum, power generation and related services. The coal mining industry continues to produce over ten million tons of coal annually, and the trona mines and plants are one of America’s most important natural resources, producing approximately fifteen million tons of trona per year. The five plants in the area produce 95% of the world’s natural soda ash. Sweetwater County’s trona deposit is large enough to produce at the same rate for the next 6000 years.

The nearby Jim Bridger Power Plant is the largest electric generating plant in Wyoming. Located thirty-two miles east of Rock Springs, it has a generating capacity of 2000 megawatts. The plant is a coal-fired steam turbine. The county is also the largest producer of natural gas in the state. Some eleven billion cubic feet of gas can be produced annually.

Much of the history of Rock Springs is based on its multi-ethnic influence. Rock Springs was once known as the "Melting Pot" of the West, with over 57 nationalities having lived here. Most came to work in the coalmines, and later in the oil and gas fields. Although this was once an uneasy mixture (as with the Chinese Massacre of 1885), the town now embraces its cultural diversity.

Information courtesy of Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce

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