The Farm Exchange Building at 177 W Main St in Vernal, Utah
This photo is from 1948:
Across the street is a marker that is #1 of the 21 stop history walking tour in downtown Vernal, Utah. See the other stops on this page:
“They didn’t have a lot of money, but they didn’t know that they were poor.“
–Rebecca Kunz’s (1892-1985) impressions of the Great Depression
Built of concrete because it was considered fire proof, the building across from you has not changed much since its completion in 1925, following seven years of slow construction. Five local people would own this building before it became a vital link to this community in 1930 as the “Farm Exchange Building.” Purchased at the beginning of the Great Depression, when many people in the Basin were losing their jobs, this Co-op supported small farmers and ranchers enabling bartering or trading of supplies like wheat, oats, corn, squash, pumpkins, potatoes and carrots, for other goods or services. Bartering was a way to survive without money, and during those days, money was hard to come by.
Adjacent to the Farm Exchange Building was a livery stable where many wild horses, after being caught from the open range, were corralled. As a condition of sale, the horses had to be ridden at least once before being sold to the British government and shipped to South Africa during the Boer War of 1899-1902.
The large, painted letters on the west side of the Farm Exchange Building advertise the once robust gasoline and refining company named PARCO, an acronym for the Producers and Refiners Corporation of Parco, Wyoming. In its heyday during the 1920s, the company refined over 8,000 barrels of oil a day to fuel the voracious new auto industry.
By the time of the Great Depression in the early 1930s, the company had fallen into receivership, but was saved by the booming Sinclair Oil Company. Today, the town located six miles east of Rawlins, Wyoming, boasts 600 Sinclair employees and, due to management support, is now considered one of the most modern refineries.