#Lookback: The Wind River Hotel

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.

When visitors first came to Riverton on the railroad, they first saw a two story wooden frame building named the Wind River Hotel.  The Wind River Hotel was constructed in 1907, by Ed Luthy on the corner of Main Street and Second Street close to the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Depot.  In 1910, the building was purchased by John Lapeyre Sr.

John Lapeyre Sr. was born near the Alps in France.  He decided to immigrate to Wyoming from France after hearing about the vast opportunities available in the state from his friends.  So, he left his fiancé in France and arrived in Wyoming to establish himself.  John Lapeyre Sr. was only in Wyoming for a short time before moving to Riverton from Rawlins in 1907.  In 1910, John Lapeyre Sr. took over the operation of the Wind River Hotel before going to New York City to meet his fiancé who had made the trip across the Atlantic Ocean from France by herself.  In New York City, the couple was married and moved to Riverton together.

In 1915, John Lapeyre Sr. decided to move the Wind River Hotel to the back of the lot to make room for a new brick addition to the hotel.  During the time the renovation was taking place, John Lapeyre Sr. had leased the hotel to Mr. and Mrs. Riner.  An article from the Riverton Review dated August 27th, 1915, described the hotel renovation as follows:

The Wind River Hotel which is one of the land marks of the town is being moved off of its present site and a modern brick building will be erected in its place, John Lapeyre, the owner, has a large force of men at work moving the old building and doing the necessary excavating for the new one.   The building will be 50×60 two stories high and with its additions will contain 50 rooms, three of which will have private baths and there will be one public bath.  The dining rooms of the Wind River Hotel will be closed for two weeks, or at least until it is permanently settled on its new foundation, and it will be an annex to the new hotel.  The new hotel will be under the same management as the old which insures the traveling public a hostelry second to none in Wyoming, for its attentiveness to its patrons.   Mr. and Mrs. Riner have certainly established a reputation for caterers, which is unexcelled and it shall be their aim, in the new house, to strengthen the friendships they hold on the traveling public.  It will be at least 990-days before the new building is completed and in the meantime Mr. and Mrs. Riner with care for their patrons in the old building.  

The construction of the new brick building was completed in 1916 and the hotel was renamed the Lapeyre Hotel.  John Lapeyre Sr. continued to manage the building until he retired 1935.  After his retirement, his son John Lapeyre Jr. took over the operation of the family business.  John Lapeyre Sr. died in 1941 and his wife died in 1951.  

The hotel was in operation until the 1950s.  While the hotel was in operation, it served as the favorite lodging of the tie hacks that had come to Riverton from Dubois after floating the railroad ties down the Wind River from the forests near Dubois to be treated at the tie plant.   While staying at the Lapeyre, the tie hacks would spend their hard earned paychecks having fun in town before returning to Dubois to continue logging.  

In the 1970s, the building was renovated to have office space on the second floor and a restaurant on the first floor.  In the summer of 1976, the old wood frame building that housed the original Wind River Hotel was dismantled so only the brick portion of the former hotel remained on the property.

The Lapeyre Family continued to own the building until the early 1980s, when they sold the building to Jack Ratliff who operated Johnny’s Bar at this location until he sold the building to John Neils.  Mr. Neils opened the Broker Restaurant.  The building is also sometimes known to locals as the Broker Building.  Today, the former Lapeyre Hotel is home to the Brown Sugar Coffee Roastery on the first floor and Oak Haven Dentist in the offices on the second floor.

Next up for the Fremont County Museum

August 5, 9-5pm at the Dubois Museum, Pioneer Museum & Riverton Museum “First Fridays” State Farm Lander/State Farm Riverton

August 5, 7pm at the Dubois Museum, “The Wild Country and the Homesteaders of WY” Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

August 6, 10am with the Pioneer Museum, “Shoshone Mission Trek” Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek Series

August 9, 8:30am with the Dubois Museum, “Sublette Pass Adventure Trek” Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek Series

August 10, 7-9pm at the Dubois Museum, “Music at the Museum: Jan Marrou”

August 11, 7pm at the Dubois Museum, “The Story in the Rocks” Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

August 11, 7pm at the Pioneer Museum, “The History of Jade” By Stan Grove, Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

August 12, 9-2pm with the Dubois Museum, “Spring Mountain Geology Trek” Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek Series

August 13, 2-4pm at the Riverton Museum, “Ranch Day” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

Thru October 2022, 9-5pm Monday-Saturday, at the Pioneer Museum, “Hurrah for The Cowboy: Men of the Open Range” Art Exhibition

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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