#Lookback: Dubois Cold Storage

    For many years on the corner of Ramshorn Street and Horse Creek Road, the Dubois Cold Storage plant served many in the Dubois area and beyond.

    Originally built as a bar and saloon in the early 1900s, the building was later purchased by Roy Rhoades around 1947.  Following some renovations, and the addition of a cooler and freezer, the building was converted into Dubois’ first cold storage plant.  Later, another freezer and cooler was added to the building.  Rhoades’ enterprise was very successful.

    In May, 1956, BT Killion purchased the cold storage from Rhoades.  He continued to build and grow the space, adding a sharp freeze in the late 1960s to freeze meat at -20°F and expanding the processing room with a tract and two meat grinding machines to speed up the hamburger making process.  Killion also added an ice machine room, with a block maker producing 30 blocks every 24 hours.  Another ice machine made large cubes, while a third produced small sugar-cube sized squares used predominantly by local businesses.  In 1979, Killion bought a smoker and began to smoke meat as well.  He sold dairy and meat products to dude ranches across the Dubois/Jackson area, and helped the Dubois Volunteer Fire Department hunt, dress, and process bison meat for the annual Buffalo BBQ.

    In 1960, Killion expanded his venture outside of Dubois, starting the Yellowstone Ice Company.  He bought and placed ice vendors throughout Yellowstone National Park, dispensing 25-pound block ice and 20 pounds of cubed ice.  The ice blocks were brought in from Billings, MT, while the cube ice originated from an ice plant built by Killion behind Yellowstone Lake.  A commercial ice machine there would produce 2 tons of cubed ice per day.  In 1965, Killion sold the business back to the park when semi-trucks in Yellowstone were restricted to the hours between midnight and 5am, making the venture untenable.

    Also during the early 1960s, BT Killion began a business relationship with Frontier Taxidermists of Cheyenne, WY.  One of the partners, Roy Ostermiller, would come to Dubois from September to mid-November every year, usually staying at the Trail’s End Motel.  Throughout the hunting season, Killion would park an old van in the Moran area, picking up game animals from Jackson area hunting outfitters.  Dubois Cold Storage would process the meat while Frontier Taxidermists would mount the heads and otherwise dress the hides.

    During the 1970s Killion worked with Dr. Ray Field, a professor of meat science at the University of Wyoming.  Together they researched the proper care of field-dressed meat prior to arrival at the processing plant, deriving calculations for average poundage of bone-meat from antelope, deer, and elk.  Based on the research they created brochures explaining the proper care of wild-game meats.

    Killion was proud of his business, and throughout his tenure he would not package anything that he would not eat himself.

    In 1982, the business was purchased by Lee Sterner who sold it to Jim Allen in 1985, but bought it back in 1989.  Darrell and Rosey Graff purchased the business in 1994, renaming it Wind River Meats, remodeling the retail area in 2010 with tin tiles salvaged from the original building.  In 2022, the business and the building sold to the Town of Dubois.

    Next up for the Fremont County Museum

    October 28, 3-5pm at the Dubois Museum, “Halloween at the Museum” 

    October 28, 2-4pm at the Riverton Museum, “9th Annual Fall Fun Fest” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    November 18, 10am at the Dubois Museum, “Kids Gingerbread Houses” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    December 2, 11-2pm at the Dubois Museum, “Christmas Open House”

    December 9, 2-4pm at the Riverton Museum, “Santa’s Workshop” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    December 9, 10-4pm at the Riverton Museum, “Christmas Open House”

    December 16, 5-7pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Old Fashioned Christmas in a Pioneer Village” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    December 2022-October 2023 at the Pioneer Museum, “Wind River Memories: Artists of the Lander Valley and Beyond” art exhibition

    Call the Dubois Museum 1-307-455-2284, the Pioneer Museum 1-307-332-3339 or the Riverton Museum 1-307-856-2665 for detail regarding their programs.

    The Wind River Cultural Centers Foundation has been created to specifically benefit The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander and the Riverton Museum.  The WRCCF will help deliver the long term financial support our museums need to flourish.  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 Wind River Cultural Centers Foundation at PO Box 1863 Lander, WY 82520 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.  

    Research in this article is from Chuck Killion and Dubois Area History by Mary Allison.

    Picture Caption: The Dubois Club Bar, original use of the building that later became Dubois Cold Storage

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