Bishop Randall Hospital In Lander
From almost the time Lander was founded the town had doctors. They were general practitioners who maybe had an office in town, but did most of their work actually visiting patients at their homes driving in a small carriage or on horseback.
Fort Washakie had a small military hospital, and many civilians visited the post doctor for care. But after the Fort shut down in 1909, a patient needing a hospital had to get to Cheyenne or Denver somehow.
Town leaders realized the need for a real hospital for the growing population of the town. Episcopal Minister Reverend John Roberts, who had a hand in many improvements to Fremont County, helped lead the charge to create a facility.
The Episcopal Bishop of Wyoming, N.S. Thomas, wanted to build a hospital somewhere in Wyoming. There was strong competition from many towns in Wyoming for the facility, but at the urging of Reverend Roberts (and the donation of land on capitol hill by the local church), the Bishop choose Lander. He was especially taken with the views of the mountains from the location. A newspaper article from the time said Lander was the ideal place to “….stimulate those suffering from inactive and chronic complaints, to get out, live close to nature and have their health restored.” The paper went on to say the site on capitol hill has “…a most inspiring view of the mountains, the town and the surrounding valley, free from noise and all contaminating influences.”
A group of Lander ladies formed a group called the Daughters of the King of Trinity to begin a building fund. Bishop Thomas was an excellent promotor, and had extended acquaintances among wealthy patrons from the East. He convinced many of them to contribute to the new hospital in the mountains of Wyoming. One wealthy patron, Grace Scobille from New York City, donated an initial $5000, then also paid for the nurses dormitory and an x-ray machine. Most of the private rooms in the building were funded by folks from back East and dedicated to their families. Examples were the “All Saints Room” funded by Mrs. J. Hull Browning of New York, the Phillips Brooks Memorial Room a gift from the Women’s Auxiliary of Trinity Church, Boston, and the George C. Thomas Memorial Ward funded by Mrs. Thomas of Philadelphia.
A large oil portrait of Bishop Randall was donated by the artist Mrs. Calvin Page of Boston. (This portrait hangs today in the Pioneer Museum).
Construction begin in 1911, using huge blocks of native stone. In 1912 the hospital opened with twenty beds. It was named Bishop Randall Hospital for Maxwell Randall, a missionary with the Episcopal Church in Wyoming (he died in Colorado in 1873). The first surgery performed was on the hospital’s Superintendent, Minerva L. Dickey, R.K.
In 1912 little but the hospital stood on Capitol Hill. A road from the valley up the bluffs to the hospital was built, and it was considered a scenic drive into the country. There were plans to landscape the route, line it with fruit trees and make a parkway out of it, but homes began to be built and those plans faded.This road today is Buena Vista Drive.
The old hospital was torn down in 1961. A modern building, the new Bishop Randall hospital, was built next to it. Much of this building still stands and is used today as The Showboat Retirement Center.
Re-discover the Winds by visiting the Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander or the Riverton Museum. Log onto www.fremontcountymuseums.com for a complete schedule of events, latest newsletter and the latest Wind River Mountaineer.
Next up for the Fremont County Museums
Aug 5th 9:30am, at the Dubois Museum, “Shippen Cabin Trek” Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek Series
Aug 11th 8am, at the Dubois Museum, “Dunoir Tie Hack Camp” with Sig Schultz Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek Series
Aug 17th, 7pm at the Dubois Museum, “Eclipse 101: A Primer on What How and Why…” Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series
Aug 17th, 7pm at the Pioneer Museum, “1918: The Last Total Eclipse Over Wyoming” Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series
Aug 18th 3pm at the Riverton Museum, “Eclipses in History” by Mel Tucker from the Jackson Astronomy Club, Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series
The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander and the Riverton Museum need your financial support. In the current economic environment the museums are more reliant than ever on donations from the private sector to continue to provide the quality programs, collections management, exhibits and services that have become their hallmark over the last three and half years. Please make your tax deductible contribution to be used specifically for the benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Fremont County Museums 450 N 2nd Rm 320 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.