GREEN RIVER TODAY
Much like the generations who came before them, Green River is currently made up of community minded do-it-yourselfers who are equally as likely to usher at church as to fix a tractor transmission. Most in this community like to have dirt on their hands; they like growing things, fixing things, doing things. Most everyone wears multiple hats -- they’re teachers, mothers, cooks, coaches, cowboys, and community volunteers. And most try to make it to Green River High basketball games since it’s one of the community’s essential community events (and the town currently isn’t big enough to have a football team). The town’s demographics continue to shift as the community welcomes those who choose to make their life here, including new Hispanic residents beckoned by family networks and job opportunities. But, all residents share a common trait: they have to be tough to live in the desert.
Every day, the town welcomes even more as the population doubles, triples, quadruples with the influx of a transient population of travelers navigating I-70, Amtrak, Greyhound, and the river itself. Green River’s hospitality industry continues to fuel the town’s economy, especially now that locations like Moab and Utah’s National Parks are major tourist destinations. The town’s hotels, restaurants, and gas stations that you see on Main Street employ much of the town, and the city and county have invested in tourism marketing to try to keep those positions filled. And, there is a rising sentiment in Green River of no longer wanting to be a mere waypoint, but instead, looking to keep prosperity here rather than see it just drive through.
Often called “The Crossroads of the West,” Green River is at a crossroads of another kind. Tourism opportunities that take advantage of Green River’s natural surroundings, heavy industry like the proposed nuclear power plant, and other business ventures have the ability to alter the town for the better or worse. This town, where alfalfa and melon fields now cover the once arid badlands, has some questions to ask itself: What do we want our town to be? How do we maintain a small town atmosphere but welcome change? How can all residents prosper? But of course, no one knows what the future holds or what these dusty roads will bring.
Just as those who came before them, the people who pass through this desert community will love it, curse it, change it, endure it, and be shaped by it. And just as those who came before them, the present and future inhabitants of Green River will explore new territory like John Wesley Powell, create new traditions like J.H. “Melon” Brown, live new legends like Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch, and record their stories like the area’s ancient Native American inhabitants.
Perhaps you knew the story of this desert town already, or perhaps it’s entirely new to you. Hopefully, you’ll pass the story of Green River on, letting people know that though this town might not be big, it’s full of history, traditions, character, and promise. Let them know that like any seemingly sleepy small town or the desert itself, there is quite a bit of life in this town if you know how and where to look.