Bear River City
Nothing remains today as a reminder that Bear River City was one of the notorious
"end-of-track" towns along the original Union Pacific transcontinental railroad line.
Initially called Gilmer, the town was first settled by lumberjacks who arrived in 1867
and supplied ties to the approaching railroad. The population of the settlement
swelled to nearly 2,000 as construction of the Echo Tunnel in Utah and the onset of
winter held up tracklaying.
This railroad boomtown, its named changed to Bear River City, developed a reputation
for unparalleled rowdiness. The town consisted of a few stores and boarding houses
standing alongside numerous saloons and gamling parlors. These liquor and gaming
establishments catered to a nefarious crowd, causing the Frontier Index to report Bear
River City was "the liveliest city, if not the wickedest in America."
The Frontier Index, a traveling newspaper printed at various points along the Union
Pacific route, outraged Bear River City's lawless element by endorsing vigilante activity
as a means of eliminating undesirables. Whipped to a frenzy, on November 20, 2868
an unruly mob burned down the Index office. The town's law-abiding citizens
retaliated against the mob and the ensuing battle lasted well into the night. Order
had been restored by the time troops arrived from Fort Bridger the next morning.
The railroad, not riotous mobs, caused the town's demise with the Union Pacific
refused to construct a siding connecting Bear River City to the mainline. The
populace hurriedly packed their belongings and moved on to Evanston, a town
which offered better prospects. The hoopla which marked the short history of
Bear River City became only a memory.