Lander Brewing Company & Rhodes & Gilbert Taxidermy

Lander Brewery – 1886 (now Pronghorn Lodge 150 E. Main)

Charles Hart officially opened his business, the Lander Brewery, in 1886. He was an immigrant from Germany who settled in Lander sometime in the 1870’s. At this time brewing beverages was on a primarily small-scale and was usually done in the home. Charles Hart started out producing forty-five barrels of beer and by 1885 was producing five hundred.  This enterprising German moved to the next phase in his business and in 1886 purchased six lots near the present –day Pronghorn Lodge for the sum of $300.00.  In 1887 the newspaper, Wind River Mountaineer, reported that Hart now had a “substantial two-story brick malt house and brewery establishment, where a good article of beer is being brewed from malt produced from barley raised by our farmers.”  Hart’s malt house was designed to hold one thousand bushels, and he had two ice houses and a saloon on the premises.

Nine years after expanding his business, Mr. Hart must have fallen on hard times.  As his property and equipment was sold at a public sale on September 14, 1895.  He was sixty-two years of age.

In this same area was Swire Rhodes – Taxidermy. Swire Rhodes was born and educated in England.  By 1899, he had worked his way west and settled in Lander. In the early 1900’s he opened a taxidermy shop.  In 1906 he expanded his business by adding tanning of hides to his services. He partnered with man named Gilbert and the business became Rhodes and Gilbert.  Gilbert was well prepared to do all kinds of tanning including making fur coats and lap robes.

The skills needed to be a taxidermist and a tanner were only one part of the business.  They needed skins and furs.  They advertised for trappers to sell their animals to them.  Another means to obtain “inventory” was from hunters.  In the late 1800s and early 1900s, game hunting and trophy hunting were at their peak periods.  In 1910 Rhodes and Gilbert would even exchange the skins and furs for silver and gold.

They had a booming business and a good reputation.  In 1908, George Eastman, the noted Kodak camera manufacturer, came to Lander to hunt and hired Rhodes and Gilbert to mount his trophy.  This was also the fashion industry period when fur coats, stoles and hats were popular. Rugs were an item too.  In 1908 they sold a mountain sheep skin rug for $125.00.  A nice sum of money in 1908. 

 Across the street (Maverick) from the Brewery was Ervin F. Cheney’s Livery.  Cheney moved from South Pass City to Lander in 1878 and established a wagon shop and livery.  He spent the rest of his life (died in 1922) ranching, running his livery and was active in civic matters.  He was the first to arrive upon a grisly scene that took place about six miles from Lander.   He found the mutilated bodies Dr. Barr, Jarome Mason and Harvey Morgan who was killed by some Sioux Indians.  Harvey Morgan had a “king bolt” from a wagon driven through his head.  Morgan’s skull is on display at the Pioneer Museum.

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