Top 10 True Western Towns of 2010


If Butch Cassidy came back to Dubois—population 962—today, he would still find some of his favorite haunts from 1890.

Cassidy and Al Hainer operated a horse ranch on Horse Creek, adjacent to Eugene Amoretti’s EA Ranch. Cassidy sometimes worked as a ranch hand at the EA Ranch, still a working dude ranch to this day, as are other historic dude ranches, the T Cross and CM Ranches. He also stocked up on food staples at Welty’s General Store, founded in 1889. The store no longer stocks food, but it does still sell clothing and sporting goods. You’ll find Welty’s on the town’s main street Ramshorn, named for the bighorn sheep that live on the Wind River Range south of town (you can learn more about the nation’s largest herd of wintering bighorn sheep at the National Bighorn Interpretive Sheep Center). Meanwhile, anglers fish for trout in the local rivers and streams where mountain men Kit Carson and Jim Bridger once plundered for beaver.

In this rugged Rocky Mountain town, ranchers still ride into town on their horses. This True Western town is home to about half a dozen businesses, such as the EA Ranch, that practice historic trades, as well as half a dozen businesses that focus on the American West culture. Locals attend rodeos in the summer and participate in dogsled races and ski-joring in the winter. Some of the unique events include the largest gathering of antler buyers at the Antler Rendezvous, a Swedish Smorgasboard to celebrate the Scandinavian heritage of the loggers who once cut railroad cross-ties in the Shoshone National Forest, a cowboy poetry gathering and a songwriting and mentorship program run by Grammy Award-winning Country music composer Skip Ewing, at the Lazy L&B Guest Ranch.

The Dubois Museum keeps the area history churning with its community outreach programs, ranging from hosting local heritage events to sponsoring a “Vanishing Communities” oral history project. In 2009, the museum continued its stabilization efforts on the seven historic cabins it moved to the museum grounds: the first Dubois High School, Hays cabin, Swann’s Service Station, Cowboy Bunkhouse, Saddle Shop, Forest Service Cabin, the Thomas Holms Homestead Cabin and the Tie Hack Gallery. Petroglyphs, teepee rings and sheep traps made by the area’s first inhabitants, the Sheep Eater Indians, are one segment of local history shared in guided tours offered by the museum.

Visitors to the local museums have doubled since 2007, and 60,000 more visitors came to Dubois in 2009 than in the previous year. The word is getting around. For a True Western town surrounded by wildlife and one that embraces its heritage, look no farther than Dubois.

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