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Postcard from the Past - Encampment shows heart for fire-stricken Dubois

Written by Dick Perue

“Together we are stronger!” 

That was the theme of the fundraiser for the fire-stricken Dubois put on by the Encampment School during last Saturday’s basketball game.

Thus proclaims an editorial in last week’s award-winning weekly newspaper, “The Saratoga Sun,” which covers the news in Encampment. 

The editorial continues:

“Job well done Encampment. You raised $1,273 for the Dubois Fire Fund that the Rams basketball teams could take home to their chamber of commerce. That’s more than two dollars for every man, woman and child in town.

“As the fundraiser theme suggests, we in rural America are stronger together. Dubois has a population just under 1,000 people, about double the size of Encampment.

“The two towns have also experienced major downtown fires. Five buildings and businesses in downtown Encampment burned in November 1950. Much like the Dubois fire, fire departments from surrounding towns responded to halt the destruction.”

The spontaneous fundraiser was held while the Dubois boys and girls basketball teams were playing basketball in Encampment. No studies. No committee meetings. No government interference. No thinking about it. Just passing the hat and getting the job done. Helping the way things have been done in our small towns for the past 100 plus years. Many of the fans and players were descendants of families, which experienced the devastating fire in downtown Encampment 65 years earlier. 

The Nov. 9, 1950 issue of “The Saratoga Sun” reported, in part:

“Five business buildings were completely consumed in the devastating fire which broke out in Encampment about 2 p.m. Election day, and a sixth building . . . was damaged seriously by the fire, smoke and water.

“Reports from Encampment set the estimated damage at between $10,000 and $12,000 from the fire, which raged for more than eight hours before it was finally brought under complete control late in the evening.

“Five trucks and men from Saratoga, Rawlins and Walden, Colo., aided by ranchers and others from all over the valley, helped the Encampment fire department battle the flames in a high wind, and the cold and snow. The Encampment school dismissed classes so that the boys could help fight the fire, and every truck available was pressed into service to move furnishings and equipment from the various doomed buildings. Women and girls set up an emergency kitchen and served hot coffee and food to the firemen.

“Buildings destroyed by the fire . . . may be seen in the accompanying photograph.

“It is said but a small amount of insurance was carried on the buildings and Mr. Harris had none on his theater-apartment building.”

Accompanying the article was the following thank you note:

Encampment thanks you

To the hardy members of the Saratoga and Rawlins fire department, and the Walden fire department; also our neighbors from the ranches around Encampment – our most deep felt thanks. Without your prompt and unstinting assistance our whole town might today indeed by a fire-torn shambles. While much was lost before the devastating blaze could be brought to submission, your work helped to save much, and words cannot express our appreciation. – The Citizens of Encampment.

Help still needed

Folks who want to help with the Dubois recovery fund may send checks to “Needs of Dubois” and note “Dubois Fire” in the memo and mail to Box 865, Dubois, WY 82513, or contact the Dubois Chamber of Commerce at 307-455-2556 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..