From Chinese Laundry to Lander Brewing Company to the Lander Brew Festival
Lander was the home to a small, but productive Chinese-American community from 1890 to 1930. Two prominent citizens of Chinese descent who left a mark on Lander were Sam Sing and Wah Lee. Both were business owners and entrepreneurs who contributed to the growth of Lander.
Sam Sing came from Canton China to this area to work in the Gold Mines at South Pass, but as Lander developed he moved to the valley opening a number of stores, getting into the cattle business as well as the oil drilling business.
Wah Lee came to Lander in the 1890s and opened a laundry and bath house. He also sold silks, toys, and other decorative items “imported directly from China,” as an ad in the 1906 Lander Clipper stated. Lee also sold tobacco products in his store.
Both men used the J.D. Woodruff building for their businesses. Built in 1890 as a general mercantile store, today it is the home to Cowfish and the Lander Brewery.
Sam Sing was only in the building a short time, opening his own laundry on the corner of fifth and Garfield. Sam was a respected member of the Lander community and was an early advocate for paved sidewalks to improve the town. He is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery. His tombstone is interesting because it is in Cantonese. Sam was an exception to the general rule in that he was buried amongst other Lander Citizens. There was a “Chinese” section of the cemetery where most people of Chinese descent were buried. It is unmarked and overgrown today.
To honor these early Lander businessmen, Lander Brewing has created a new beer called “Wah Sing.” David Morton from the Lander Brewing Company said, “At Lander Brewing Company we’re very interested in our (push)roots and having a sense of place. Most of our beers are named for local landmarks or cultural aspects of this community, so when Randy came in to the brewery to see if we were interested in having a walking tour sign in the window we were happy to accommodate. He was giving us a rundown on all the things that have been in the building before Cowfish and LBC and the Chinese laundry caught my attention. I was working on a recipe to debut at the beer fest and decided to name it for the two men who ran the laundry at different times, Sam Sing and Wah Lee. Calling it Wah Sing’s Wheat sounded the best so that’s what it is. It isn’t a traditional wheat beer, more of a hybrid of a wheat and a hoppy red ale. I used a load of new variety hops to give it a tropical fruit flavor and floral aroma that are backed up by cookie and toffee notes of the American wheat ale base. We’ll be releasing it at Cowfish and the brew fest on Friday. Cheers”
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
June 10th at the Pioneer Museum, “Pioneer Arts & Crafts Day” McDonald’s Children’s Exploration Series
June 10th at the Dubois Museum, “Buffalo Jump” Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek
June 14th at the Dubois Museum, “Start a Butterfly Nursery” McDonald’s Children’s Exploration Series
June 17th at the Pioneer Museum, “Hailey Stage Stop/Beaver Creek” Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek
June 17th at the Riverton Museum, “Vignettes of Japanese Prisoners and Their Descendants in WY” by Aura Newlin: Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Northwest Community College 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.