Nothing remains today as a reminder that Bear River City was one of the notorious "end-of-track" towns along the original Union Pacific transcontinental railroad line. Initially called Gilmer, the town was first settled by lumberjacks who arrived in 1867 and supplied ties to the approaching railroad. The population of the settlement swelled to nearly 2,000 as construction of the Echo Tunnel in Utah and the onset of winter held up tracklaying.
This railroad boomtown, its name changed to Bear River City, developed a reputation for unparalleled rowdiness. The town consisted of a few stores and boarding houses standing alongside numerous saloons and gambling parlors. These liquor and gaming establishments catered to a nefarious crowd, causing the Frontier Index to report Bear River City was "the liveliest city, if not the wickedest in America."
The Frontier Index , a traveling newspaper printed at various points along the Union Pacific route, outraged Bear River City's lawless element by endorsing vigilante activity as a means of eliminating undesirables. Whipped to a frenzy, on November 20, 1868 an unruly mob burned down the Index office. The town's law-abiding citizens retaliated against the mob and the ensuing battle lasted well into the night. Order had been restored by the time troops arrived from Fort Bridger the next morning.
The railroad, not riotous mobs, caused the town's demise when the Union Pacific refused to construct a siding connecting Bear River City to the mainline. The populace hurriedly packed their belongings and moved on to Evanston, a town which offered better prospects. The hoopla which marked the short history of Bear River City became only a memory.