By Katherine Kasckow
August 9, 2017
On the trail of the upcoming eclipse, we move on to the town of Shoshoni in Fremont County on the eastern edge of the Wind River Reservation. Located at the corner of Main Street and Highway 20/26 stands the oldest building in downtown Shoshoni. This historic structure housed a multitude of businesses and organizations that have deeply affected the community and development of the town. Two businesses that called this building home are the First National Bank of Shoshoni and C.H. King Lumber Company.
The first owner of the building was Charles Henry King, one of the earliest settlers to arrive in the area. He arrived in Shoshoni from Omaha in 1905. Upon arrival King bought three lots that would become in the following year the first lumber company in town. During this period, the lumber company’s main business came from homesteaders who had headed out west to claim the land that was promised by the Homestead Act. Also inhabiting the space of the lumber company was the First National Bank of Shoshoni.
The building survived a fire that took place in 1908 in Shoshoni’s commercial area, cementing its status of oldest remaining building in the town because most of the other buildings that were built during the earliest construction of the town were burned down in the fire.
In 1919, the building was sold to William C. Smart and his partner Ralph Linn. They established a grocery store for the town of Shoshoni. The grocery store business would not survive the Great Depression, resulting in the building being taken away from the William C. Smart and given to Fremont County. The county did not sell the building to a private owner until 1937 when the Wind River Masonic lodge #25 purchased the space. Throughout the years the building would house a multitude of businesses that would come and go. It wasn’t until the late 1970s when Yellowstone Drug purchased the space that this constant change of businesses stopped. Yellowstone Drug, a malt shop, gained popularity and created a brand that would attract tourism and business for downtown Shoshoni.
Though this business setup was ideal for both the business and downtown, Yellowstone Drug has not remained in the location. In 2008 the business changed owners and locations, moving the famous Yellowstone Drug off site and leaving the location it had occupied for around 30 years. According to an article on County10.com, on moving day, “A pickup truck and trailer hauled off the malt shop’s furnishings and most equipment, and the sign was painted over ending an era when the store was a ‘must stop’ whenever travelers or locals drove through Central Wyoming.” This move left the building vacant, no longer offering malts, groceries, or lumber. Presently it is unknown if this historic building is offering a place for a new business, but its structure still stands as a memento of the early days of the town of Shoshoni.
The building itself is a perfect representation of small town commercial structures with turn-of-the-century architectural features. The building has undergone some renovations including the removal of the dividing walls that once laid between C.H. King’s Lumber company and the First National Bank of Shoshon. The bank vault first built in the early 20th century still remains in the building, complete with the original doors and hardware. This vault was manufactured by the York Safe and Lock Company of York, Pennsylvania.
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