Bear-River-Sign

 

Eleven miles south of Evanston, on the east side of paved county road 2100. Gilmer, Wyoming Territory, was founded in 1867 by lumberjacks and their families; however, after the Union Pacific Railroad came to the area General Champitt, a special mail agent, changed the name of the hamlet to Bear River City. The town soon had about 2,000 people and over 140 buildings where all types of businesses flourished. Typical of most “Hell-on-Wheels” towns that rose up along the nation’s first transcontinental railroad, Bear River City experienced much criminal activity. On November 8 three young men—Jack O’ Neil, Jimmy Powers, and Jimmy Reed—were arrested for garroting citizens, and on November 10 were taken from jail and lynched. The Frontier Index, a newspaper press traveling aboard the Union Pacific, hailed the act as one of law-abiding citizens cleaning up their town. Infuriated, the lawless element rose up, and on November 20 a riot occurred in which the mobile office of The Frontier Index was destroyed with everything in it, while editor Leigh Freeman was forced to flee for his life to Fort Bridger. Thus ended the days of the unique “Press on Wheels.” Although police and citizens drove the mob out of Bear River City, the town’s mayor called for help from Fort Bridger located to the northeast, and troops arrived the following day. The army established martial law for a few weeks, quartering troops in private homes at the expenses of the citizens. Casualties of the riot amounted to few, if any, killed although several were badly injured. 

Source: Wyoming Recreation Commission 1999:283-284.