What Moran Saw?
We arrive in Green River late in the day, both playing a game of trying to spot the Cliffs from Moran’s work. There are a number of similar features on the eastern approach and towering over the houses on the main street too. But, as we mistakenly rejoin the highway to leave the town this is what we see.
It’s like coming home, being welcomed by a good friend and instantly I can start to piece together the jigsaw of how Moran arrived at the painting I have admired for so long. I spend a good ten minutes parked up realising how fully my expectations have been met, it feels right now for this to be the last destination on the trip.
There will be time to study these cliffs in more depth over the next few days, so we head back to visit Ruth Lauritzen, who runs the Sweetwater County Museum. She kindly invited me and Andrew to the museum a few weeks ago after I contacted the Mayor about the project. The museum is a very pleasant building dedicated to the history of Green River and Rock Springs, charting the history of the area into easily digestible displays, mixing artefacts, models photographs and detailed prose to illuminate the areas fascinating development. From prehistoric geology to Native American settlements and modern industrial expansion as a result of the Transcontinental Railway. The constant rumbles, we can hear and feel in the floor are of mile long freight trains snaking towards the West coast, catching the sunlight, it is an amazing sight and suggests the railroad is still key to the area’s ecconomy.
It was this railroad expansion completed in 1868 that secured Moran his means of travel to join Hayden in 1871 and a very early appearance in the cities history. (Size wise it’s more like a town and everyone refers to it as “the town”)
Ruth is a fountain of local knowledge, and directs us to our RV park so we can set up camp at our final destination. We are weary but excited by the prospect of sketching and photographing the cliffs tomorrow.