#Lookback: Dubois Mercantile

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.

Many of the buildings located along Dubois’ main street are over 100 years old, and, while 100 years does not sound like a very significant amount of time, Wyoming as a state is only 129 years old. These buildings, among them the St. Thomas Episcopal Church (1908) and the Rustic Pine Tavern (1919), and their unique edifices give Dubois some of its amazing character. 

One of the buildings old enough to have witnessed the incorporation of Dubois (in 1914) was the original Dubois Mercantile Co. building. The Mercantile saw many different owners and managers during its lifespan, but always sold a variety of goods that people living on the frontier required. It opened in March 1913 with $50,000 capital. 

Thanks to the railroads, goods came from as far east as Chicago and New York or as close as Lander and Riverton.  In the early days, before reliable roads and bridges existed in the western parts of Fremont County, shipments arrived via freight wagons. The identity of the driver in this picture is debated, some saying it was a man named Gib Doan while others say it was Tom Bristol. An advertisement from 1913 for the Dubois Mercantile Co. stated “we have one of the best and largest stocks of general merchandise in Central Wyoming off the railroad. We carry Groceries, Hardware, Dry Goods and Farm Implements. The Goods are new, quality the best and our prices reasonable.” 

The store was remodeled and enlarged several times to fit the growing demand for general household goods and items. When the highway needed to expand, the entire Mercantile building, along with several others on the main street, was moved back several feet. Its bight veneer and big front windows welcomed visitors and residents alike into its eclectic aisles. It became a landmark for the little tourist town. Unfortunately, a fire started in the historic building, then called the Main Street Mart, on December 30, 2014. The fire occurred on the coldest night of the year (-30 degrees with no wind) and required over 1 million gallons of water to extinguish. The historic building, along with half of the entire block, were destroyed.

Today, the line of downtown buildings are rebuilt with modern facades and bright colors. New businesses moved in and instead of horse-drawn freight wagons, motorized vehicles bring goods to the town. 

Next up for the Fremont County Museum

April 21, 10-11 am at the Dubois Museum, “Kids Corner: Scat, Tracks and Skulls” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

April 22, 11am at the Riverton Museum, “A 70’s Time Capsule” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

April 22, 9-3 pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Garden-Expo: Planting Historic Vegetables for Kids” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

April 29, 1-3pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Sheep Shearing Day” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

May 12, 10am at the Dubois Museum, “Kids Corner: Aquatic Insects” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

May 13, 9-1 pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Lander Area Petroglyph Trek” Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek Series

May 17, 7 pm at the Riverton Museum, “Gold Fever in the Atomic Age: Wyoming’s Uranium Boom” by Zach Larsen, Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers 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.  

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