A New Year – and the Final Chapter in the Demise of The Rock

Table Rocl Processing PlantI didn’t post my usual New Year article here this year; it’s been a busy year so far. As it happens, I’m glad I waited, since it turns out that 2014 will be another banner year in a sad sort of way. It’s been officially announced that Table Rock Gas Plant, formerly Table Rock Processing Plant, will be permanently shut down during the first quarter of this year.

From my perspective as one of the many who worked there, this will be a milestone that’s related to, but separate from the demolition of the village. Families, friends and even a few lucky passersby experienced the village and feel the loss. At the risk of sounding prideful, I believe the workers at the plant and in the supporting field shared something that even our families can’t fully appreciate.

The resources we processed, the processes themselves and the materials we used in the processes all posed serious risks. I’m not romanticizing the situation when I say that there were a hundred ways to suffer life-changing injuries or death at TRPP and being overcome by the toxic gas we stripped was among the least ugly and painful. We worked with substances that could burn the flesh off your bones, freeze your lungs or drop you where you stood. We worked with gases and liquids at extreme pressures and temperatures, heavy machinery rotating at insane speeds and substances so volatile that a spark could eliminate the entire crew on duty. We worked 200 feet in the air and on the ground with hundreds of tons overhead. We sometimes did all of this in temperatures that literally froze any exposed skin in minutes.

We were the front lines if disaster struck. We were the firefighters. We were the first – and the only- responders. We were the security team. We were the cleanup crew, the repair crew and the emergency transport personnel. We were trained in all of those disciplines and drilled regularly. When you’re in a hazardous environment, 45 miles from “civilization”, you have only yourself and your co-workers to depend on. To this day, I know I can have a Scott Air Pack donned and operational in less than 10 seconds. (The beard, of course, would pretty much defeat the purpose.)

Table Rock VillageHere’s a twist that few people think about: Our families were housed in a village only about a mile, as the crow flies, away from the plant. What’s more, the gas that ran all of the appliances in the homes came directly from the plant outlet stream. That meant that the safety of our loved ones and our friends was constantly in our hands, as well. How’s that for job-related stress?

I’m not pointing all of this out to brag or complain. We were well trained and well paid and we knew the risks when we took on the job. The real point I’m trying to make is that those of us who worked there were more than just a crew. We had to know that we could count on each other to do our jobs. Regardless of how  we felt about each other outside the work environment, when we clocked in, we were part of a team. What needed to be done got done. We also found ways to have some laughs while we did it. I’m proud to have been a member of that work force and, I believe, a better person for it.

Interestingly, I also find myself grateful that my book wasn’t completed last year as planned, since the closure of the plant wouldn’t have been included. The fact is, I still haven’t received the input I’ve hoped for from other Table Rockers yet, either. I’m hoping that the reunion later this year will be a good opportunity to collect some more stories. Although my own experiences there would easily fill the pages, they can’t possibly do justice to what Table Rock was on their own.

So, there’s my somewhat lengthy first article of the New Year on this site. Comments are, as always, welcome. Happy New Year, everyone!

About Dana

I spent 7 years at Table Rock with my wife, daughter and son. After transferring in from the Amarillo, Texas survey crew, I worked as a Plant Operator at Table Rock Processing Plant and later as a General Technician. Like most Table Rockers, life in Table Rock Village and working (and playing) in the Wyoming Red Desert had a great impact on the person I became. I now make my living as a freelance writer and I am working on a book about Table Rock and how it shaped the lives of the residents. I hope to share the stories of fellow Table Rockers as well as my own.


  1. Not to be insensitive, but I’ll be traveling by Table Rock (or what remains of it) next month on a road trip. I saw Table Rock listed on the map and for some reason googled the town. I discovered your blog through that search.
    I’m not sure how to put this the right way. I’m very curious about this town. I can’t find much about it on the internet besides that it’s now considered a “ghost town”.
    Do you know if the town is still accessible from the interstate? (I-80) I know that nobody lives there, but I’d love to be able to drive through the area if it’s possible. If any of my questions are out of bounds or too touchy, I apologize. I’m just so intrigued by this town and something is telling me that I need to see it.
    Thank you for this website! It tells a lovely, heartbreaking story of the town.
    Feel free to shoot me an email and tell me to buzz off. 🙂
    Thanks! – A curious traveler.

  2. Dana

    Hello, Callie and thanks for stopping by. There’s no need to think your questions will be seen as insensitive. This site was created to help unravel the mystery of what that strange, little community out there in the middle of nowhere was. Unfortunately, while the exit is still there, there isn’t even a ghost town at the site anymore. If you browse around this site for a while, you’ll find a fairly good account of what happened and when, as well as what the town and plant used to be. As for the village site, there’s nothing to keep you from taking the exit and driving to the village gate, but it’s likely that there won’t be any access past that point.

    The demolition of the remains of the village was heartbreaking, indeed, but there are a great many of us that there cherish the values we learned there and the spirit that life there instilled. Table Rock Village was much more than just a spot on the map and in a way, it will never die.

  3. Mark Chollak

    This is such a cool site. Thank you for documenting the history of this town. I have lived most of my life in Rock Springs, and have driven by this place hundreds of times. In so many ways, Table Rock is the story of Wyoming. Little communities that are no more dot the landscape from one end of the state to the other. Like Table Rock, these places started in order to reap the harvest offered by Wyoming’s mineral wealth, but sadly, they disappear as soon as they sprang up. But they are never forgotten as long as people like you remember. A couple of things that might interest readers on this site. I don’t know how many people remember Vera Trefethen, but she and her husband still live in Rock Springs. And also, not all of the houses from Table Rock have been torn down. A few were moved into Rock Springs and reassembled. The fit in beautifully, because that exact floor plan was also used in many neighborhoods in Rock Springs. If you come to town, take a drive down Veteran’s Park Drive and you will see them. In Wyoming, you meet lots of people who are from ghost towns. As a junior high history teacher, it is invaluable to find sites like this. Thanks so much for keeping this part of history alive.

    • Dana

      Hi, Mark! Thanks for stopping by the site and for your comments.

      I completely agree that the story of our village parallels the story of Wyoming in many ways. I hope that I’ll be able to convey some sense of that in the book I’m working on.

      We not only remember the Trefethen family, many of us, including myself, have reconnected with them as well as many of the other families via Facebook. It’s been incredibly interesting to see what everyone is up to these days. Several other Table Rockers are still in the area, too, and of course, there are some that we worked with that still live in Wamsutter.

      We also knew about the houses that were moved to Rock Springs and it’s documented in some of the posts on this site, along with photos of the houses being moved. One of those houses was my family’s home while we were there. I’m not sure whether it’s still true, but at one time, one of the Table Rock kids was raising a family in one of those houses.

      You may not have noticed it in the posts, but several of us will be getting together in Rock Springs later this year for a Table Rock reunion.

      Thanks once again for your kind words about the site. I plan to keep it as active as possible, though I admit I’ve been slacking a bit lately. I believe that a place that had so much impact on so many people’s lives deserves to be remembered as an important part of Wyoming’s history.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *