What The Heck Is … That Old Stagecoach Stop Off I-80 Near Green River?

Anyone driving through southwestern Wyoming on I- 80 may have seen the signs for the historic Granger Stage Station. The small, simple stone building was a nexus point for one of the most important periods of U.S. history.

GJ
Greg Johnson

September 17, 20234 min read

This stone marker shows the Granger Stage Station, first known as the Old South Bend Stage Station built in 1850, was on the Oregon Trail and a Pony Express stop.
This stone marker shows the Granger Stage Station, first known as the Old South Bend Stage Station built in 1850, was on the Oregon Trail and a Pony Express stop. (Courtesy Photo)

Anyone driving through southwestern Wyoming on Interstate 80 has seen the signs — take exit 66 to visit the historic Granger Stage Station.

Most drive past trying to make good time, but for those curious enough to take the exit and drive the five miles to the station are in for a real Wyoming — and American West — history lesson. That’s because this small, simple stone building was a nexus point for one of the most important periods of U.S. history.

The Granger Stage Station is also known as the South Bend Station and Ham’s Fork Station, but whatever you call it, this was a destination for just about anyone migrating West. It was a stop along the California, Oregon and Mormon trails, and was a Pony Express way station and a stagecoach stop.

Basically, anything and anyone moving West across America went through the Granger Stage Station.

In fact, the Wyoming communities of Green River and Rock Springs trace their origins to the station.

This map shows all the overland trails, stage routes and Pony Express route across Wyoming and the region, all converging at Granger, far left.
This map shows all the overland trails, stage routes and Pony Express route across Wyoming and the region, all converging at Granger, far left. (Courtesy Photo Dick Blust Jr.)

Go West

That the site today is a reminder of a crucial time in Old West history would be an understatement, said Dick Blust Jr., a local historian at the Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River.

“Near the confluence of the Ham’s Fork and Black’s Fork in western Sweetwater County in Granger — population 94 — stands a brick-and-stone structure known generally as the Granger Stage Station,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “Historians believe the original structure dates back to the mid-1850s and was acquired and expanded on in the early 1860s by the Ben Halladay Stage Co.”

That’s when business really picked up there as a way station for travelers using Halladay’s Overland Stage Co., along with “pioneers on the California, Oregon and Mormon trails, and Pony Express riders,” Blust said. “Though now a State Historic Site, it’s a silent, lonely place, and it’s hard to believe that many thousands passed through there.”

  • The Granger Stage Station is now a State Historic Site.
    The Granger Stage Station is now a State Historic Site. (Courtesy Photo)
  • The Granger Stage Station in southwest Wyoming.
    The Granger Stage Station in southwest Wyoming. (Courtesy Photo)
  • A plaque tells visitors that the Granger Stage Station is on the National Register of Historic Places.
    A plaque tells visitors that the Granger Stage Station is on the National Register of Historic Places. (Courtesy Photo)
  • A marker at the Granger Stage Station acknowledges the place as a stop on numerous pioneer trails and the Pony Express.
    A marker at the Granger Stage Station acknowledges the place as a stop on numerous pioneer trails and the Pony Express. (Courtesy Photo)
  • Granger Stage Station markers 9 17 23

Famous Visitors

Because it was a common point for so many pioneer trails, along with being a stage and Pony Express stop, it’s likely many famous and noteworthy people in America’s history stopped at the Granger Stage Station.

There are a couple, however, who are known for sure to have stopped there.

One is Horace Greeley, the newspaper publisher and abolitionist famous for his Manifest Destiny motto: “Go west, young man, and grow up with the country.”

Another was writer Samuel Clemens, also known by his famous pen name, Mark Twain.

“Ben Halladay was renowned in his time as the ‘Stagecoach King,’” Blust said. “By 1863, his stage company was operating the largest complex of express services in the United States.”

He sold his stage routes for $1.5 million — a whopping sum at the time — to Wells Fargo, Blust said.

Preserving the role this small stone building played in early Wyoming and American West history is important, Blust said.

Most of these overland stations “are long gone, but the Granger station remains,” he said, “an icon of a bygone era.”

Want to know what the heck something is in Wyoming? Ask Managing Editor Greg Johnson and he’ll try to find out. Send your “What the heck is …” questions to him, along with high-quality horizontal photos of whatever it is to Greg@CowboyStateDaily.com.

The Granger Stage Station in the 1860s.
The Granger Stage Station in the 1860s. (Wyoming Tales and Trails Photo via WyoHistory.org)

Other stories in Cowboy State Daily’s “What The Heck …” series:

What The Heck Is … That Airplane On A 70-Foot Pole Along I-90 In Wyoming?

What The Heck Is … That 30-Foot Virgin Mary Statue On I-80 At The Nebraska Border?

What The Heck … Is That Giant Face On The Hill Overlooking Green River?

What The Heck Is … That 60-Foot Pyramid In the Middle Of Nowhere Off I-80?

What The Heck Is … The Vore Buffalo Jump Along I-90 In Northeast Wyoming?

What The Heck Is … With Betty Boop, Big Boy And That Sinclair Dinosaur North Of Cheyenne?

What The Heck Is … That Giant Abraham Lincoln Head Overlooking I-80 At The Top Of Sherman Hill?

What The Heck Is … That Lonely Grave On A Hill Overlooking Interstate 80?

What the heck is … That Lonely Tree Growing Out Of A Rock In The Middle Of I-80?

What The Heck Is … That Lonely Big Boy Statue In the Middle Of A Field In Wapiti, Wyoming?

What The Heck Is … That Giant 13.5-Foot-Tall Head On A Corner In Laramie, Wyoming?

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Greg Johnson

Managing Editor

Veteran Wyoming journalist Greg Johnson is managing editor for Cowboy State Daily.