- EAT + SLEEP
- TRAVEL TOOLS
Incorporated in 1888, Rock Springs owes much of its existence to the mining industry, boasting as many as 10 coal mines in the downtown area alone at one point. Few museums in the West paint a clearer picture of the coal mining industry — and the colorful character it attracted — as the Rock Springs Historical Museum.
Coal miners from Kentucky and Pennsylvania brought their underground experience to Rock Springs, but the booming workload sent recruiters to Europe and other countries to find more help. This broad-scale immigration turned the town into the nation’s leader in coal production and made Rock Springs one of the most ethnically diverse melting pots west of the Mississippi.
Some well-known outlaws also made their way through Rock Springs over the years. Robert Leroy Parker, more commonly known as Butch Cassidy, got his nickname after working in a local butcher shop. And it’s rumored that Calamity Jane had a dugout on what is now M Street. From dig-ups to hold-ups, Rock Springs has seen a bit of it all. These are just some of the stories that the Rock Springs Historical Museum explores.
The Rock Springs Historical Museum is housed in the old Rock Springs City Hall, which was built of sandstone brick in 1894. Each year, the museum offers regularly rotating exhibits that showcase the town’s proud heritage, allowing visitors a chance to appreciate the perseverance it took to carve out a livelihood in this unforgiving landscape.
The museum staff is happy to answer any questions you have about the history of Rock Springs, and they will steer you to other points of interest such as a self-guided walking tour of historic downtown.
See the Oregon Trail, Mormon Trail and more pioneer routes right here in Sweetwater County. They’re a far cry from modern interstates, but they were crucial to settling the West. They are still-visible out on the plateaus and prairies of the county.