The new era of worldwide communications offers challenges undreamed of for traditional telecommunications providers in rural America. New opportunities, new technologies, and new visions of global enterprise open a world of possibilities to those who choose to live and work outside the concrete jungles of major metropolitan areas.
The Dubois Telephone Exchange has provided communications to the Dubois area for eighty three years. In this new millennium, we look back on the history of the company and congratulate ourselves on continuing our proud tradition of technological advancement and personalized “small-town” service in every aspect of our business. In the future, we will continue to strive to offer our customers, be they across the street or in some far-flung corner of the world, the very latest technology plus the same individual attention that has always been our hallmark.
The Upper Wind River Country
The temperate climate and pristine setting of the Upper Wind River Valley was attractive to early adventurers and explorers who roamed the often harsh reaches of Wyoming’s Rocky Mountains. On returning to the lower settlements with their tales of sweet water, tall timber, and meadows rich with game in the Upper Country, they piqued the interest of a smattering of hearty homesteaders who began to follow the faint trails of the fur trappers and indigenous Native American hunters to avail themselves of the abundant natural wealth of the region.
Others seeking a place to settle, raise families, and carve a niche for themselves in the shadow of the Wind Rivers eventually followed these first stalwart pioneers. As the decades passed and the Valley became more populated, a few enterprising business people began to realize the growth potential of the area and established tentative outlets to cater to the needs of a burgeoning community.
A central business district soon evolved as a few modest support businesses established themselves to serve the continuing influx of lumbermen, cattle ranchers, and “dude” ranches spreading throughout the Valley. Streets and roads began to be named and formalized. The first rumblings of municipal organization stirred the populace as what was to become the town of Dubois slowly began to materialize from the ragtag, canvas cow camps and sod-roofed cabins dotting the Valley floor.
By the time of its incorporation, May 14, 1914, Dubois was showing signs of becoming a thriving community despite its isolated location. Continued growth underscored the need for contact with the outside world, and for all its progressive aims, lack of a communications system was tantamount to emphasizing the town’s natural geographic isolation.
Early communications were limited to overland travel and the vagaries of the horse, wagon, and later, the automobile. Consequently, the citizens of Dubois found their links to neighboring towns at the mercy of Wyoming’s often-fickle weather. A trip on the dirt track “highways” to Lander, Riverton, or Jackson could quickly become an “adventure” in good weather, and a life-threatening ordeal when conditions were less than perfect.
The Dubois Telephone Exchange
The Dubois Telephone Exchange was born of the common and very real needs of small communities in rural America during the 1920s. A means of communication between residents and businesses within the Valley was seriously lacking, as was the need for a communications link outside the Valley.
1930 proved to be the year Dubois took its initial halting step into the age of telecommunications. Frank H. Holt installed the first working telephone system in the upper Wind River. The system, primitive by today’s standards, consisted of magneto phones and multiparty, open-wire rural lines, but it gave area residents the opportunity to join the modern world via the telephone.
After eight years of operation, Holt sold the forty-two subscriber Dubois Telephone Exchange to L. A. Boland who ran the exchange until selling his interest in the company to Bill and De Lamb in 1958.
The Lambs realized the potential for growth in the Dubois area and the subsequent need for a more technologically advanced telephone system to keep pace with that growth. In 1960, with the aid of the Rural Electrification Administration, they started what was to become a continuing program of modernization with the removal of the manual switchboard, that had served the Company since its inception. They installed an automatic, electric step-by-step mechanical switch in the Dubois central office.
With the goal of single-line/single-party service, Dubois Telephone began an aggressive construction campaign. With limited funds and a shortage of manpower, they began to replace an outmoded plant while still striving to provide the very best personalized maintenance and installation services.
By the early 1970s, the Dubois Telephone Exchange had begun serving the Crowheart area and was linked via microwave to Mountain Bell Telephone and AT&T long-distance toll networks. As the first main runs of buried cable were installed, the Company’s dedication to providing its rural subscribers with quality telecommunications through modern technology became evident.
By the mid-1980s, the Dubois Telephone Exchange had acquired Valley Telephone, that served Baggs, Dixon, and Savery, Wyoming, and Slater, Colorado, and was providing full-service digital switching facilities in all exchange areas except Crowheart.
The addition of a single-bay digital switch in the one-hundred line Crowheart central office in 1988 brought the benefits and convenience of the digital world to all Dubois Telephone customers.
In 1991, Bill and De Lamb sold the Dubois Telephone Exchange to Range Telephone Cooperative, Inc. of Forsyth, Montana.
Today and Tomorrow
Range Telephone Cooperative, Inc. is a progressive, subscriber-owned cooperative that, with its noncooperative subsidiaries, Dubois Telephone, ACT and RT Communications, serves more than twenty-two thousand customers in four states. The business and affairs of the Cooperative are directed by a ten-member Board of Trustees elected by the membership.
The Dubois Telephone Exchange, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Range Telephone Cooperative serving over two thousand subscribers in Wyoming and Colorado. The business and affairs of Dubois Telephone are managed by an eleven-member Board of Directors appointed by the Range Telephone Board of Trustees. Day-to-day management responsibilities for Dubois Telephone are delegated by the Dubois Board of Directors to the Dubois General Manager.
Dubois Telephone believes in community involvement and prides itself on its ability to serve as both a communications and civic leader. We are also proud of the fact that DTE brings the same level of personalized service to our customers outside the Dubois area.