The Hotel Tomahawk continues to protect the Lincoln

Hotel toma 2

Green River was a major stopping point on the Lincoln Highway in Wyoming and the Hotel Tomahawk, which sits less than a block from the Union Pacific railroad, was where many travelers stayed.

In 1919, two enterprising businessmen, Thomas Welsh and Dr. W. J. Hawk, built the hotel. M.H. Park was lessee and proprietor when it opened.

It was the first hotel built in Green River to look straight at the Lincoln Highway instead of the railroad and was one of the first highway-related buildings to be built in the community. It had about 75 rooms with half the rooms featuring a tub and shower bath, but hot and cold running water and phones were in all rooms.

The Tomahawk opened for guests on May 1, 1921, but the formal opening took place on May 10.

The May 6, 1921 Green River Star offered readers a glimpse into opening night.

“This is an event which means much to the town of Green River as the new Hotel Tomahawk is one of the finest hotel establishments in the west, and is furnished second to none. The ground floor aside from the lobby is occupied by live wires in the business life of the town who have attractive establishments that add much to the general appearance of the hotel block, while just east of the hotel is located the modern Sweetwater Auto Co. Garage, where the auto tourist can receive every need for the gasoline driven vehicles used by the overland tourist of today.”

SW garage

The hotel is on the left, Sweetwater Auto Co. Garage sits on the right.

The May 14, 1921 edition of the Hotel World: The Hotel and Travelers Journal spoke of the growing community surrounding the new roadside business.

“While it may seem somewhat large for the city, Green River has a good country back of it, and with the advent of several large new industrial plants, now being planned, there will be plenty of business for the motel.”

Many people including Ivan Edelman and his parents stayed at the hotel.

“Over 60 years ago my parents and I stayed at the Tomahawk Hotel. It is right next to the train yards and was host to railroad workers on layover. We could hear the trains all night. Green River is a major rail yard, and when we were there the locomotives were steam. Those are sounds I’ll never forget — or ever hear in person again.”

The hotel closed in 1980, but it still stands, reminding motorists and Wyomingites of a by-gone era in American and automotive histories.

Hotel toma 1


Hotel Tomahawk

Hotel World

Edelman’s hotel experience



James Cash Penney’s: Mom and pop to chain


Photo Courtesy: Gregory R.C. Hasman

The current location opened in 1929.

In 2015 about 40 J.C. Penney stores shut down and in 2016 several more will close its doors including one at the White Mountain Mall in Rock Springs, Wyoming on April 8.

It opened with the mall in 1978 and it will be missed in the community.

There are others throughout the country, but none will capture the imagination as the original location in Kemmerer, a little over an hour northwest of Rock Springs just off U.S. Highway 30.

Mr. Penney was born on a small farm outside Hamilton, Missouri and at the age of 8, his father told him he needed to purchase his own clothing. Over the next few years James Cash began investing money saved from running errands, collecting junk and performing farm work. He bought and sold pigs, which helped him launch a career as an entrepreneur.

Penney held several jobs after graduating high school, which included being a clerk at John M Hale’s dry goods store and proprietor of a butcher shop in Colorado. After a brief flirtation as a chef at a local hotel he went to work for Guy Johnson and Thomas Callahan, who operated several small dry goods stores called Golden Rule Stores in Colorado and Wyoming.

Penney relocated to Kemmerer with his wife and infant son and opened a store on April, 14, 1902. The one-room framed building was located between a laundry and boarding house off the main business district.  They lived in the attic over the store that was furnished with makeshift counters and shelves made out of packing crates.

Penney proposed to open a cash only store, which was laughed at by local businessmen, but embraced by the citizens.

Within two years he opened up in Rock Springs and Cumberland, Wyoming and when Callahan and Johnson dissolved their partnership he became full owner and began launching his own Golden Rule stores.

To Penney the Golden Rule name represented his deeper philosophical and religious beliefs and became his creed. He insisted on offering customers quality merchandise at the lowest prices. Customer service, thrift, shrewd buying practices and a growing cadre of talented store managers and associates formed the foundation of his new organization.

Here is a timeline of other events:

1909 – Established headquarters in Salt Lake City

1913- The Golden Rule Store name was phased out and replaced by J.C. Penney Company Inc.

1916- The company opened its first stores east of the Mississippi River in Watertown and Wausau, Wisconsin

At age 42, Penney became the company’s first chairman of the board

1917- The company published the first issue of The Dynamo, the first company newspaper

1921- He established an education department and in March 1921 the department shipped to the stores the first lesson the company’s business training course, a free correspondence course designed to give associates the most up-to-date training in salesmanship, merchandising and business management. By August of that year over 90 percent of the company’s 2,500 associates had enrolled.

1926- The company owned an 18-story office building and warehouse in New York on 330 W. 34th St.

1929- On Oct. 23 J.C. Penney common and preferred stocks are listed on the New York Stock Exchange for the first time.

1951- Sales are over $1 billion fulfilling his 1927 prediction

1962- The company acquired the General Merchandise Company, a mail order catalog  operation. a A year later, the first J.C. Penney Catalog was issued.

1971- Mr. Penney died on Feb. 12 at age 96