Trails to the Past

Wyoming

Uinta County

 
 
 
 
 
A Brief History of the Unita County Court House at Evanston, Wyoming
 
 
     The Uinta County Court House is a two-story red brick  building with the  facade conforming closely to the  Ionic style of Greek  architecture, which is characterized by massive simple columns, spiral volutes on  capitals and certain scroll like  decoration.
      A  cut stone accents the pressed brick  and forms  lintels overwindows  and  an arched  doorway.  Beautiful  copper cornices  compliment the  brick and stone.  The roof is  Spanish style; fire brick trimmings  accentuate exterior corners.  The building is finished throughout in red oak, with the  Old Mission effect.  It has embossed metal ceilings throughout.  A  beautiful tile floor graces  the main entrance.
      The "old" courthouse was  a  combination  courthouse and jail.  The minutes of the Board of County  Commissioners of  April 14, 1873, stipulated  that the jail portion was  to  be  built first, and  brought  to completion not later than October  15, 1873,  while  the courthouse mustbe completed not later than October 15, 1874.
      The minutes of the  Board further  show that the contract  for construction  was  awarded  to  Harvey Booth  and  William McDonald,of Evanston, for the sum  of $15,425.   The  commissioners holding  officeat the time were William  McDonald, Chairman,  A. V.  Quinn  and  E. Alton, members, with Alfie Lee, Clerk.  Building inspectors were William Crook, S. K. Temple,  and Col. H.  Geeley.  While  three were  appointed the record discloses that only two served, and on November 18,1874, "upon recommendation of William Crook and  S.  K.  Temple,  the Board  ordered  a warrant  drawn in the sum of $1,893.76 as final payment on  the building contract."  William  Durnford,  Evanston, was the brick  mason in  charge  of all  brick  work.   Thomas  Widdop  also was  a  brick man and  assisted during the construction.  A Mr. McCook had the contract for carpentry work.  James Baguley, a native of England and newly arrived in Evanston, was  a skilled wood worker and wood  turner;  he finished  the interior.  In  1887  a new jail, built by Pauly Jail Company of  St.  Louis, was completed at a cost of $10,000.3  The jail portion of  the court  housewas then  converted into office  space and record storage.  A 32x60 foot addition was added to the front of the courthouse and completed December 30, 1910, at a cost of $24,000.
     The 1910 courthouse addition was  built during the administrationof Commissioners Tom Painter, H. J.  B. Taylor, and J.  A.  Black. Mr. Painter was  chairman of  the  board.   G.  A.  Graves, Ogden, was the architect,  W. H. Armstrong,  Evanston, general contractor, stone and brick work by D. R. Perking,  Salt Lake  City.  Concrete  work was supplied by A. B. Therme, Evanston, metal work by Newman and Stewart, Ogden; wiring  by  Evanston Electric Light Company Transcribed and submitted by Jo Ann Scott Boyd Source, Wyoming Historical Society
 
Union Pacific Railroad
 
The Union Pacific Railroad arrived in the area in November 1868 and Harvey Booth opened a saloon and restaurant in a tent near what is now Front Street, in Evanston. By December the rails had reached Evanston and the first train arrived December 16, 1868. Later a machine shop and roundhouse were constructed, giving Evanston a longevity not shared with many other railroad towns. Abundant timber and water along the Bear River were contributing factors that made Evanston a refueling station for cross-country locomotives. Coal was mined a few miles north in Almy. Similar to other railroad towns in Wyoming, early Evanston had a large population of Chinese workers that lived on the north side of the railroad tracks in a small "China Town." As time passed the Chinese population dwindled, disappearing completely in the 1930's.
Piedmont, located southeast of Evanston, it was settled about 1867 to provide railroad ties for the Union Pacific Railroad. Moses Byrne built several Kilns there for producing charcoal. and Charles Guild established one of the first ranches in the Territory. Both Byrne and Guild were mormon pioneers. Originally, the area was named "Byrne," but due to confusion with Bryan Station, was renamed Piedmont. Both of Moses Byrne's wives, Anne Beus and Catherine Cardon, and Guilds wife, Marie Madeleine Cardon, were from small towns in the Tornio Province, part of the Piedmont Region of northern Italy. Moses wife Anne Beus lived in Ogden, Utah, and his other wife Catherine Cardon eventually ended up living in Piedmont, after first having spent time in the Utah towns of Ogden and Slaterville. Most historical sources that reference both 'Mrs. Byrne' and Piedmont are taken to be referring to Catherine Cardon. Catherine Cardon Byrne and Marie Madelaine Cardon Guild were sisters.
The Guild family joined the Byrne family in 1866 at the Muddy River Station in southwest Wyoming, having traveled from Salt Lake City. As the transcontinental railroad moved into western Wyoming, a wood and water was needed, and it was found that a spot approximately five miles west of the Muddy River station was ideal, being situated in the direct line of the track. Moses Byrne was asked to run the station. It was thought at first that they would call it Byrne, but it was later decided that the name might be confusing, since there was a station called Bryan west of Green River, Wyoming
Piedmont, a typical tent camp for the railroad, probably at this time knew its greatest population; yet there is evidence of only approximately twenty homes. The tent town served as a base camp for the graders who were constructing a roadbed up the steep side of the mountain to the summit called Aspen Station. The route for the railroad had many sharp curves, including a full horseshoe bend. By 1868, the railroad crew arrived to lay track on the prepared roadbed. It was soon realized that helper engines would be needed on the eight-mile grade. Wells that were dug provided plentiful water. Sidings, an engine shed, and a water tank were constructed, and Piedmont became a wood and water refueling station for helper engines. Men were needed to run the helper engines, so more families moved in. There were also homesteaders arriving at that time. The Guilds opened a mercantile establishment, and the town boasted four saloons.
The logging industry, as a commercial venture, became well established in Piedmont as well. Moses Byrne constructed charcoal kilns in Piedmont during 1877. Five in total were built, at a cost of fifteen hundred dollars. Quaking aspen and pine logs were hauled by ox teams to the kilns where they were burned into charcoal. The Union Pacific Railroad Company used the charcoal as fuel for the passenger cars.

Piedmont and the Golden Spike

On May 5, 1869, the Central Pacific Railroad crossed Promontory Summit in Utah and stopped just a few feet short of the Union Pacific tracks. The north side of the rails were joined, but those on the south side were left for the driving of the golden spike. On May 7, 1869 Promontory was overflowing with discharged workers; tent saloons were stocked, and the women arrived. A special train from Sacramento had arrived with all the dignitaries of the Central Pacific Railroad
Things weren't going quite so well on the Union Pacific train. In Piedmont, there were three hundred graders and tie cutters who had been discharged but not paid. The story was circulated that the financing of the railroad had collapsed and that, upon completion of the railroad, the Union Pacific would receive a government subsidy. This would bankrupt the grading and tie contractors
They enlisted the aid of a telegrapher to let them know of the arrival of the special train in Piedmont. There the train met an obstacle of ties on the track, and by the time the ties were cleared off, the special car carrying the financial wizard and the Union Pacific vice president was side railed, leaving the rest of the train to go on. A telegram was finally sent by the detained men that resulted in two hundred thousand dollars being sent to give the workers their back pay. Another telegraph was sent to Promontory with the message that the dignitaries would not arrive there until May 10. When the money arrived at Piedmont, the train car was re-coupled and sent on its way. The golden spike was driven on Monday, May 10, 1869.
It was later reported that a Salt Lake banker sent a telegram to Fort Bridger for troops to go into Piedmont, but a telegrapher took the message off and no troopers were sent. Robert Fulton, a telegrapher in Rawlins, Wyoming, in 1869, established the date of the hijacking as being May 7. Some historians disagree on the date, but in any case newspaper accounts of the holdup brought temporary fame to Piedmont.
About 1910, the Union Pacific Railroad began digging the Aspen tunnel through Aspen mountain. The completion of the tunnel approximately one and one-half miles long resulted in the elimination of the steep, winding grade from Piedmont to Aspen Station. The railroad was rerouted from LeRoy to the tunnel, missing Piedmont by several miles. Piedmont was stranded, and its demise began. In 1940, lack of business forced the closing of the old Guild Mercantile Store. Since then, most of the buildings have been hauled away. All that remains are three or four tumbledown remnants of homes, some foundations, the coal dump where the engine shed once stood, the charcoal kilns of Moses Byrne, and the cemeteries.
 
 

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