Evanston, mile post 917.2 on the Salt Lake Sub.
In late November, 1868, as the grading crews for the Union Pacific Railroad approached the present site of Evanston, Harvey Booth pitched a tent near what is now Front Street and opened a saloon and restaurant. His wooden floor and canvas sided structure is accepted as Evanston's first building. Within a few weeks of Booth's arrival, the new frontier railroad camp boasted a population of 650 residents.
On December 1, 1868, the Union Pacific rails had reached Evanston where a depot was located on June 9, 1869. The first train arrived here on December 16, 1868. The town was plotted by and named after the railroad's surveyor, James A. Evans. By July 4, 1871, the Union Pacific had located its roundhouse and machine shops in Evanston which assured the town a permanency that had been denied other railroad towns.
As early as 1872, Evanston had four churches: Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian and Mormon. Once the city had been made the county seat for Uinta County, Harvey Booth was contracted to build the Courthouse, which he completed in 1874, at a total cost of $15,425. The first newspaper to be printed in Evanston was THE EVANSTON AGE which was started in 1871, by W.L. Vaughn.
One of the city's early landmarks was a section of town called Chinatown which was located near the present Old Mill restaurant, along the Union Pacific's tracks. This picturesque part of the city was composed of a huddled group of shanties that served as the homes and business dwellings for the Chinese who were to inhabit Evanston from the late 1870s until the early 1920s. Among the structures in Chinatown were an opium den and an elaborately decorated Joss House.
The Chinese in Evanston worked as laborers for the Union Pacific Railroad and as miners in the Almy coal mines. They also worked as laundrymen, vegetable peddlers and restaurant employees. Each year the residents of Evanston's Chinatown would celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year by parading a large curiously constructed dragon called Gum Lung through the streets of Evanston (the Uinta County Museum has a similar dragon head on exhibit). Games and firecrackers accompanied the parade, and the climax of the celebration was the firing of a rocket into the air. Attached to the rocket was a ball that would bring good fortune to the lucky person who caught it This person would be honored by becoming the keeper of the Joss House for the following year.
During the first two decades of the 1900s, Chinatown's population dwindled until there were only a few of the section's residents left. In 1922, the Joss House mysteriously burned to the ground. Two of Chinatown's more famous and popular residents, China Mary and Mormon Charlie, remained in Evanston until their deaths in the late 1930s. The Joss House was one of only three in existence in the state.
By the early 1900s, other landmarks had been established in Evanston. In 1901, the Union Pacific Railroad had completed its Gothic-style brick railroad station, and by mid-1906, the city had a Carnegie Library building within a block of the Depot. Months later, Evanston could boast of a large and spacious Federal Courthouse and Post Office within two blocks of the library.
In 1912, the old stone railroad roundhouse was replaced by a larger more modern brick structure that is still standing today. In September 1985, the Union Pacific presented the Depot to the City of Evanston. The Blyth and Fargo Building on Main Street celebrated 100 years in Evanston in 1972. The year 1985 saw the building remodeled, keeping the old-fashioned decor, with several shops located there.
Many of Evanston's churches are the original buildings, as are the Federal Building, the old Carnegie Library (which houses the Chamber of Commerce and the Uinta County Museum), the Uinta County Courthouse (with its new addition), Eliza's Estate on Main Street (Old Evanston Bank), and the Depot Square project.
Last Update 07/22/01
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