Crossroads on the Upper Green River

June 05, 2018

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Photographer: Ray Boren 
Summary Author: Ray Boren 

The Green River rises in Wyoming’s magnificent Wind River Range, which includes the state’s highest peaks. The Winds, part of the Rocky Mountains, are visible to the northeast as a distant line of snow-frosted summits in the springtime photograph above, taken April 24, 2018, just outside of the small town of Daniel. More than 40 of the summits top 13,000 ft (3,962 m) in elevation. Collecting flows from many other creeks emerging from the Wind River and other downstream ranges, the Green courses some 730 mi (1,170 km) to merge with the Colorado River in southeastern Utah, en route to the Gulf of California.

The Green was known as the Seeds-kee-dee-Agie, or Prairie Hen River, to the Shoshone Indians, and thus to other tribes of the interior American West, as well as to early explorers, trappers and traders. The site pictured here, near the river’s confluence with Horse Creek, has been a crossroads for centuries. Nearby in 1992, archaeologists discovered evidence of ancient pronghorn (also known, incorrectly, as antelope) hunts, in a natural bottleneck along the pronghorn migration route. The hunts, conducted by Native American peoples, date back some 6,000 years, according to radiocarbon dating of artifacts and evidence such as stone-lined fire pits and animal bones and teeth.

With about 60 members, the overland expedition of New York merchant and entrepreneur John Jacob Astor’s Astorians, of the Pacific Fur Company, passed this way in October 1811, on their way to the Pacific Ocean from St. Louis, en route to the mouth of the Columbia River to found a colonial outpost in what is now Astoria, Oregon. This was just five years after Lewis and Clark’s 1804-1806 Corps of Discovery expedition had crossed the North American continent. (A contemporary Astorian party traveled to the Pacific Northwest on board a sailing ship.) After spending long winters trapping beavers for their valuable hides and fur, here, too, mountain men of the early 19th century gathered for six of their 16 fabled rendezvous, between 1833 and 1840. As many as 3,000 trappers assembled for these annual summer rendezvous, traveling from hundreds of miles and kilometers from every direction, to celebrate and re-supply for the coming year. The rendezvous also attracted Indians of many tribes; the earliest wagon-train immigrants along the Oregon Trail; pioneer-missionaries, like Marcus and Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, Henry and Eliza Hart Spalding, and Father Pierre DeSmet; and the region’s first tourists. Today, U.S. Highways 191 and 189 come together at this crossroads of the American West on the Green River.

Photo Details: Both images - Camera: NIKON D3200; Exposure Time: 0.0020s (1/500); Aperture: ƒ/11.0; ISO equivalent: 220; Focal Length (35mm): 18.