The Swan Service Station has been a part of the Dubois Museum since the 1980s. However, the building did not start in this location. Originally, it was located on the approximate site of the present-day Conoco station, near the middle of the town.
The service station was opened around 1934 by Swen Swenson. Swenson had been a tie hack up the Dunoir valley for several years prior to opening the station, and along with the service station he drove supplies up to Dubois from Riverton and Lander for stores and ranches in the 1930s. The station allowed him to use wholesale gasoline in his supply trucks, and Swenson built a house behind the station itself.
While Swenson owned the station, he did not operate it. The station was closed every winter, and the person hired to man the station would be given room and board inside of the place for the summer. In 1939, Virgil Rutledge worked for the summer, sleeping in a cot bed at the back of the station. He was paid $30 a month, and his “board” often consisted of a can of peaches and loaf of bread from Welty’s General Store, one block from the station. When Swenson and his daughter, Annie, were in town, Virgil recalled that they ate well, as both were good cooks. At the time Virgil manned the station, regular gas was sold at 15¢ per gallon.
Bob Ewing was another station attendant who worked for a summer. He recalled oil being hand pumped into a container, with its viscosity to the customer’s preference. At that time, he recalled that the price of gasoline had jumped to 29¢ per gallon. The station was full service, checking oil, pumping gas, and washing car windows for customers. Oil could be changed at the back of the station.
Swan’s Service Station was the second of its kind in Dubois, and only attained moderate success. Swenson’s daughter, Annie Hupke, recalled that Bob Ewing had a good deal with little work and good meals as a result! Virgil Rutledge also recalled playing catch with a friend frequently while working. He remembered Swenson’s love of Western paperbacks, which were so numerous he had filled the shelves behind the cot at the back of the station from floor to ceiling.
By the 1980s the building was neglected and moved to sit beside the Welty General Store. Eventually, it was acquired by the museum, donated by Steve and Elaine Welty.
Next up for the Fremont County Museum
June 7, 7pm at the Dubois Museum, “Music at the Museum: Packin’ the Mail”
June 15, 7pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Tim McCoy, A History with Cowboy Poetry” By Jack Schmidt Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series
June 17, 10am at the Pioneer Museum, “Historic Miners Delight Gold Mine Town Trek”, Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek
June 21, 7pm at the Dubois Museum, “Music at the Museum: Packin’ the Mail”
June 24, 9-2pm at the Riverton Museum, “Castle Gardens Adventure Trek” Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek
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.
Caption: The Service Station c. 2003, sitting on Dubois Museum Grounds