SWEETWATER COUNTY — Bitter Creek once ran through the middle of Rock Springs, and a steel wagon bridge across it led from K Street to Pilot Butte Avenue, linking the northern area of town to the south.
While digitizing old photographs at the Sweetwater County Historical Museum recently, museum volunteer Diane Butler discovered a photograph of K Street near its intersection with Pilot Butte Avenue taken around 1920, which depicts the bridge.
Clearly visible in the photo is the office of the Rock Springs Rocket, the newspaper that merged with the Rock Springs Miner to become the Rock Springs Rocket-Miner in 1941.
In the mid-1920s, under the leadership of Mayor Peter Christian “Chris” Bunning, Bitter Creek was re-channeled to its present course well north of the downtown area, then west to its confluence with Killpecker Creek near the intersection of Elk and Center Streets. The park that later came to bear his name was created along its former course, downstream from the bridge.
Also shown here is a Sanborn fire insurance map of that area from 1920 that marks the bridge, along with nearby businesses, lots, and other features.
The Sanborn fire insurance maps were highly detailed, large-scale maps of some 12,000 towns and cities across the United States published by the Sanborn Map Company in the 19th and 20th centuries. They allowed fire insurance companies to assess their total liability in organized communities and provided detailed information about properties, individual buildings, and fire-fighting resources. Today they provide a valuable to historians and researchers nationwide.