(Dubois, Wyo.) – The first person to visit Dubois’ newly relocated Visitor Center, a man from Australia, pointed to a mount high on the wall near the desk. “Is that a moose?”
He had come in through the open door as volunteers were unpacking boxes during the move on Labor Day weekend.
“No, it’s an elk,” said Chamber of Commerce President Sarah Schowalter, taking a break to point toward another mount nearby. “That’s a moose.”
The first visitor pointed out one important advantage that had not come to mind when the Town of Dubois offered a chance to relocate the Chamber’s office and Visitor Center to historic Dennison Lodge: The mounts on the wall give tourists an “up close and personal” introduction to some of the wildlife they have come so far to see.
The log-built Lodge is situated on Ramshorn Street directly between the town’s two top attractions, the Dubois Museum/Wind River Historical Center and the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center. Immediately adjacent to the Town Park and playground, it also offers visitors access to the free Wifi available throughout the Park.
Tourists entering the new Visitor Center are immediately immersed in the kind of surroundings that led True West magazine to award Dubois the designation of “best architecturally preserved Western town” this year. Built of lodgepole pines, Dennison Lodge has a very authentic Western ambience, with heavy pine furniture, wagon-wheel chandeliers, framed historic photographs—and, of course, many animal mounts.
The Dennison also has a storied past: It was originally an exclusive guest ranch in the mountains east of Dubois, owned by the ne’er-do-well son of a New York family who furnished it with trophy animal mounts and lavish Persian rugs, and hosted the rich and famous, including Clark Gable and Carole Lombard.
After its owner died, community members rescued the Lodge from demolition and moved it to the center of Dubois in 1999. It has served ever since as a music venue and a location for community events and private celebrations.
The new Visitor Center is located in the small west room of the Dennison, with a separate entrance off a small porch at the side. When the building is not in use as an events venue, visitors to town will use the main front entrance, facing the huge stone fireplace as they enter the great room.
The Chamber hopes that some visitors will be so charmed that they begin to dream of planning a wedding or other event at the Dennison.
The Visitor Center and Chamber of Commerce desk in the small side room will be open from 10 AM to 3 PM on weekdays from April through November, and on Saturdays during summer months, except during funerals and as requested by sponsors of daytime events. ###