Tie Hack History in the Wind River Valley Celebrated at Frontier Fest
Tie Hacks from the Wyoming Tie and Timber Company had an annual tie drive where they floated cut ties from the Dubois area to Riverton via the Wind River. The men would camp along the river while making the journey. A cook would move ahead of the crew and start cooking for the upcoming dinner at the campsite. Notice the large cast iron pots in the photo. These pots are still used today for various events in Dubois that involve cooking for large numbers of people over coals outside. Two of these events are Frontier Fest, formerly known as Museum Day, and the annual Dubois Volunteer Fire Departments Buffalo Barbeque.
Dubois has had a long history with the timber industry. In fact one of the first individuals was Olney Green who had a steam powered sawmill located near the confluence of Sheridan Creek and the Wind River around 1900. This was before the tie industry started in the Dubois area.
Wind River Timber Co. was the first commercial operation in the Upper Wind River Valley. Having completed tie operations in the Big Horn Mountains they moved to the Dubois area in 1914 where their headquarters was at Triangle C Ranch, about 20 miles west of Dubois. The first flumes were constructed in Lava Creek in 1916 under the direction of Martin Olson, who was known as the “woods boss”.
Wyoming Tie and Timber Co. purchased Wind River Timber Co. in 1921 with Ricker Van Meter, owner. This started the “hay day” so to speak for the tie industry and tie drives. This business flourished under the direction of Ricker Van Meter and Martin Olson until 1947. Wyoming Tie and Timber Co. was the largest tie producing unit in the United States, averaging an annual output of 670,000.
J.N. Fisher purchased Wyoming Tie and Timber Co. in 1947 and built a large sawmill at the present day Dubois Medical Clinic site. This sawmill was the first automated sawmill in the Upper Wind River Valley. There was several more owners of the operation including Teton Studs, U.S. Plywood and Louisiana Pacific.
To celebrate this part of Dubois’ extraordinary history the Dubois Museum Association and the Dubois Museum: Wind River Historical Center will host Frontier Fest July 22nd from 11:00-2:30 at the Dubois Museum. At this annual event celebrating the Dubois Museum/Wind River Historical Center, you can speak with real cowboys about life in a bunkhouse. Learn how the tie hacks took down massive pine trees to create railroad ties. See how a Mountain Man prepared himself to survive this wild and tough wilderness. Try your hand at calf roping or flint knapping, and much more.
Meanwhile enjoy live country music and refresh yourself with authentic chuck wagon stew, Indian fry bread, and a snack from the bake sale.
The event also features two games based on the area’s rugged tie hacks. Get your custom-decorated “railroad tie” to the bottom of the mini-flume first, by controlling the flooding snowmelt waters. See whether you can stack mini-railroad ties faster than your competition, using the tool of your choice! There will be prizes for the winners.
This is a free admission day at the Dubois Museum: Wind River Historical Center, however, donations are appreciated to both the Dubois Museum and the Dubois Museum Association.
Re-discover the Winds by visiting the Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander or the Riverton Museum. Log onto www.fremontcountymuseums.com for a complete schedule of events, latest newsletter and the latest Wind River Mountaineer.
Next up for the Fremont County Museums
July 22nd 9m, at the Riverton Museum, “J.B. Okie Manor Trek” Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek Series
July 22nd 10am at the Pioneer Museum, “Sinks Canyon Hydro Electric Trek” Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek Series
July 22nd 11am-2:30 at the Dubois Museum, “Frontier Fest”
July 27th 7pm at the Dubois Museum, “Simpson Lake Restoration” by Kass Harrell, Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series
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 three and half 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.