Sweetwater County Museum Identifies Man in 1923 Rialto Photograph

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Thomas Berta was the co-owner and manager of the Rialto Theater when it first opened in 1923.

SWEETWATER COUNTY — Last week the Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River circulated a photograph from its collection of a man posing in front of the Rialto Theatre in Rock Springs in 1923. The public was asked for help identifying him.

Thanks to call-ins and social media, we now know he was Thomas Berta, the Rialto’s co-owner and manager.

The May 28, 1923, issue of the Rock Springs Miner posted a “Notice of Incorporation” for the Rialto Amusement Company. The notice declared that “The objects of said corporation are as follows: to carry on and conduct a general theatre and moving picture show business in all of its branches and details and especially to own and conduct theatres, opera houses, shows, picture shows and amusements.”

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John C. Ramsey, P.C. Bunning, and Thomas Berta were listed as the new corporation’s directors.

During its early years, the Rialto featured vaudeville acts as well as motion pictures. During the silent era, films were often accompanied by music provided by John Brueggemann’s Rialto Orchestra.

The Rialto was an important facet of life in Rock Springs for over 35 years. It closed in 1959.

The black circle in this photo shows the location of the old Rialto Theater in Rock Springs.

Tragically, Berta, who was very active in community and civic affairs, was killed in an automobile crash east of Rock Springs in 1945. 

The Sweetwater County Historical Museum thanks everyone who contacted the museum with information.