Celebrate Historic Preservation Month in Downtown Rock Springs

May is National Historic Preservation Month and the community is invited to celebrate it in Downtown Rock Springs.  The Rock Springs Main Street/Urban Renewal Agency (URA), Certified Local Government (CLG) and Rock Springs Historical Museum are hosting several events and activities to draw attention to local historic preservation efforts. 

One such event is an Architectural Scavenger Hunt that will run the month of May. Scavenger hunt forms can be picked up at the Rock Springs Main Street/URA office (603 South Main Street), Rock Springs Historical Museum (201 B Street), or downloaded from DowntownRS.com. Participants can return completed hunts to the either office for a small gift and chance at a grand prize.  


Historic Preservation Month Guided Tours:

  • May 11, 9:30 a.m. Historic Downtown Walking Tour- Locals and visitors can go on a guided historic preservation tour in Downtown Rock Springs with local historian, David Tate.  The tour will begin at the Rock Springs Historical Museum. There is no need to preregister, simply show up.  The tour covers about 2 miles, walking, so wear comfortable shoes.
  • May 14, 12:00 noon - Reliance Tipple Tour -  The tour will discuss the history of coal mining in southern Wyoming, Rock Springs, and Reliance in the 19th and 20th centuries, how the tipple operated and who worked in the tipple and why this one was preserved.  The tour is lead by David Johnson, a professional archaeologist who has worked for Western Archaeological Services and Archaeological Services, Western Wyoming College since 1984.  David has worked on many historic archaeological sites including coal and hard rock mining sites, homesteads, and historic trails in Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah.  He has supervised archaeological excavations at a historic homestead near Rawlins, a coal mine camp near Grand Junction, Colorado, and at South Pass City.  David also prepared National Register of Historic Places nominations for Wardell Court In Rocks Springs and railroad grades in Colorado.  The tour will take place at the Tipple located in Reliance.  The surfaces are uneven so wear good shoes.  Find more information on the tipple and it's location here.  

“One excellent example of recent historic preservation efforts is the First Security Bank building,” Tate said.

“But Downtown is full of examples from the former Rock Springs City Hall (now the Rock Springs Historic Museum) to the train depot and Bunning Freight Station,” Tate added. 

According to Tate, he believes historic preservation is important in Downtown Rock Springs because it shows everyone the history of our community and the people that lived here before us.

 “It helps tie us to our past,” Tate pointed out. “Plus, many of our Downtown buildings are architecturally significant and deserve to be preserved for that reason alone.”

Tate said there are benefits of historic preservation.

“It give you a sense of place,” he mentioned. “Also, on the economic side, preservation has shown to have a great return on investment.”

Tate added, “Many times, it is cheaper to actually restore a building than to build a new one.”

There are ways our community can be involved in historic preservation.

 “The main thing the community can do is to pay attention to things that are happening with historic buildings in the Downtown area and be willing to speak up to protect Historic Downtown Rock Springs,” Tate expressed.

“Many times one hears complaints about a building either being abandoned or demolished after the fact – this was certainly true in the case of East Junior High (old high school),” he shared. “Many people were upset after the decision to demolish was made but very few actually said anything in the months leading up to that decision.”

Tate would like to see the community be more vigilant about the historic buildings in Rock Springs all the time.

 “I think the best way for the community to become involved is to start paying attention to our historic Downtown and appreciate how unique it is – historically and architecturally,” Tate suggested. “They also can contact the Rock Springs Historic Preservation Commission (a committee of the City of Rock Springs) or the National Trust for Historic Preservation if they want to become even more involved.”

Tate has a Master’s in Historic Preservation.

“I have always been extremely interested in history so that was my starting point,” he revealed. “I then started to become interested in architecture and so the two just go together.”

Tate concluded by saying, “It is so exciting to see work happening on the First Security Bank building after all the stops and starts over the years. First Security is the perfect example that preservation doesn’t happen overnight.  Many times, it takes years to finally get a project to fruition – but it is worth it!”

Preservation Month began as National Preservation Week in 1973. In 2005, the National Trust extended the celebration to the entire month of May and declared it Preservation Month to provide an even greater opportunity to celebrate the diverse and unique heritage of our country’s cities and states.

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