Mile 1115: Farson and the Green River Basin

“Crossing the Green River Basin redefines monotony. The plains roll on endlessly, blanketed by the same wearisome mantle of sagebrush and greasewood. Outside of the river bottoms and the few towns, there is not a tree in sight. Scabby buttes, eroded from the stacked limestone and shale layers of an ancient lakebed, pop up here and there across the plains. The landscape is riven with ravines, most of them bone-dry in summer. The scenery has hardly changed since emigrant days. For Edwin Bryant, it was “scarcely possible to conceive a scene of more forbidding dreariness and desolation than was presented to our view on all sides.” Only the wind seems happy in the Green River Basin. It shrieks with glee across the plains, sweeping up wraithlike clouds of grit.  “It has
been windy, and there is nothing but sand—sand all around us, which is  drifting constantly, filling our eyes and ears, as well as the frying pan,”  A. J. McCall groused, adding, “It is not strange that it affects the temper  of the men—marring all good fellowship.”

After a day of pummeling by Wyoming’s biggest bully, I can vouch that nothing is more welcome than  a building-shelter!—even if it is a run-down gas station in a run-down  town like Farson, a forlorn little hamlet marooned in the sagebrush wilderness  of the Green River Basin. I sipped burnt coffee there one afternoon,
hiding from the wind, while leaves, newspapers, and other flotsam  flew past the windows. Was this typical? Oh yes, the attendant sighed.  The windows appeared cloudy. A closer look showed that they had been  etched by windborne sand. Merciless wind and winter beat up the small  rural towns of Wyoming. The results are evident as potholes, peeling  paint, broken roofs, leaking pipes, and plywood windows. Yards spill  over with rusted cars, wrecked parts, writhing heaps of hose and pipe,  and tires-many, many tires. Anything that might be useful, might a save  a few dollars one day, joins the heap. But local folk brim with friendship and conversation, a pleasant upshot of life with so much open space and so few people to fill it.”

Keith Heyer Meldahl, Hard Road West, p. 142