#Lookback: Dennison Lodge

A County 10 series in partnership with the Fremont County Museum System
where we take a #Lookback at the stories and history of our community and
presented by Mick Pryor, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.

Richard Dennison, born and raised in New York, was the heir to the Dennison Paper Company. However, rumor has it that he was the “black sheep” of the family, so to remove him from the business he was given a considerable allowance and told to occupy himself elsewhere. Elsewhere ended up being Wyoming, more specifically Dubois, and Dennison occupied himself by building a large guest ranch on Bear Creek. When completed in the early 1930s, after ten years of construction, the ranch consisted of a rustic log lodge, living quarters for the workers, and three large barns for the registered dairy cattle and breeding horses.

Known as the Dennison Place, it was lavishly decorated. Glass, furniture, and decorations arrived by the wagon load from the east coast via the train depot in Riverton. The main hall in the lodge was decorated with mounted animals hunted in Africa, twin grand pianos, and overstuffed couches. The fireplace was large enough for a grown man to stand in. Elaborate tapestries covered the walls of the guest rooms, and each bed’s headboard was uniquely painted to represent everything from peacocks to covered wagons. Butlers from Denver saw to the needs of each guest, no matter how minute.

The barns on the ranch were built from milled lumber hauled up from Riverton. Dennison told his men he wanted “the floors of the barns as clean as the floors of the house, and the floors of the house as clean as the table they ate on”. Anything that dared touch the floor was immediately scooped up.

It was the hub of entertainment for the area’s inhabitants and was the first dude ranch in the East Fork Valley. It commanded the large sum of $125 per week for guests, but guests to the ranch could afford it as they were known to include members of the Dupont family and movie star Clark Gable. According to the story, Gable once offered Dennison $1 million for the ranch, but Dennison turned him down claiming that the buildings alone cost more than that!

Dennison passed away September 27, 1939, and the ranch was left to his sister. But she and her husband were not fond of the west and did not like owning the ranch. They tried to sell it, but it was eventually put up for auction to pay back taxes on June 5, 1943. The ranch was sold and dismantled – the lumber from one barn was used to build a home in Dubois while another barn was moved to the Thunderhead Ranch where it remains in use. The main lodge itself was moved next to the Dubois Museum in 1999 where it stands to this day.

Next up for the Fremont County Museum

Aug 14, 1-4 pm at the Riverton Museum, “Ranch Day for Children”

Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

Aug 14, 10 am at the Pioneer Museum, “Miner’s Delight Adventure Trek”

Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek

Aug 24, 9-2 pm at the Dubois Museum, “Mystery Ranch Tour”

Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek

Aug 26, 7 pm at the Pioneer Museum, “U.S. Postal History” By Stan Grove

Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

Aug 28, 9-3 pm at the Riverton Museum, “J.B. Okie Manor Adventure Trek”

Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek

Aug 28, 10 am at the Pioneer Museum, “CWC/Sinks Canyon Apple Orchard Trek”

Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek

Thru October, 9-5 Monday-Saturday, at the Pioneer Museum, “Joseph Scheuerle Western Art Exhibit”

Handle With Care: Reed Schell

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 four 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.  

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