PINEDALE – For Clint Gilchrist, history has always been a hobby.
“I’ve always been fascinated with history,” he said. “It’s my guilty pleasure; I’ve always had fun with it.”
Diving into history is Gilchrist’s outlet, for his personal entertainment and enjoyment throughout the better part of his life.
The Big Piney native grew up on the family’s Gilchrist Ranch, and as a teenager he had the opportunity to take a trip to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. He says that is when his passion for historical events moved to a whole new level.
While standing on the battlefield, Gilchrist imagined he was there during the Battle of the Little Bighorn. History has always been where he places himself in in his mind, becoming immersed and imagining himself as a witness to such historical events first hand.
“It pulled me in,” Gilchrist said of his time at Little Bighorn Battlefield. “It’s fascinating to think what happened there 200 years ago. That got me interested (in history) and it expanded out from there.”
He returned back to the Gilchrist Ranch in Big Piney to finish up high school, where he graduated in 1982. He went on to attend the University of Wyoming, where he graduated in 1986 with an electrical engineering degree. After that, he headed west to Keyport, Wash., to work for the Navy in civil service for 10 years.
Following his time in Washington, Gilchrist was looking for any reason to get back to his home in Sublette County. His sister, Kristy Sims, was looking to open an office supply store, and in 1994, the pair opened Office Outlet in Pinedale. Three years later, they opened a second Office Outlet store in Big Piney. That same year, he began a partnership with Dawn Ballou, to start Pinedale Online. He has now lived in Pinedale just over 20 years.
For approximately 10 years Gilchrist ran a computer repair service out of the office supply store. Throughout that time, he continued exploring his interest in history with service on a number of boards in the community. In addition to those boards, he volunteered for more than 20 years for the Sublette County Historical Society (SCHS).
From 2005 through 2013, he served on the SCHS board, spending two of those years as president. In addition, he sits on the Sublette County Historic Preservation Board, a board he has worked with for 20 years.
In the past, he sat on the Sublette County Museum Board and is currently the secretary and treasurer for the Upper Green River Basin Chapter of the Wyoming Archaeological Society. He also served on the late Pinedale Anticline Working Group’s Cultural and Historical Task Group.
With his role at Office Outlet diminishing over time, he says he can now take his love for history a step further.
As of this spring, Gilchrist can now add the job title of executive director of the Sublette County Historical Society and Museum of the Mountain Man (MMM), after he was selected during a nationwide search.
He began working in the position on May 1, but does not officially start until June 1. Currently, he is transitioning into the MMM position with previous director Angie Thomas, who will stay on until June before stepping down and moving to Texas.
He says the timing couldn’t be more perfect to take on the new responsibility. He is very comfortable with the MMM, as he has spent many years actively involved in various capacities.
Despite his years of service to preserving history in Sublette County, he says he still has a lot to learn to give the MMM and SCHS the justice they deserve and to keep things operating smoothly.
“I have lots to learn here,” he said. “This is a well-run, well-organized organization. I will help it however I can and try not to get in the way of things that are working so well.”
With that, Gilchrist said he would like to learn and ease into his new role before trying to brainstorm up new ideas.
“I’ve been dedicated to the institution for years, “ he said. “I have respect of what has been done in the past.”
The SCHS board of directors is responsible for the institution, so his job will be to work as the liaison between the board’s wishes and managing MMM’s staff.
The Sublette County Historical Society was initially formed in 1935. In 1990, the Museum of the Mountain Man opened its doors to the public. The museum is one of two fur-trade era museums in North America. The only other museum focusing on the fur trade is the Museum of the Fur Trade in Chadron, Neb.
The Museum of the Mountain Man focuses mainly on the Rocky Mountain fur trade era during the period of 1820 to 1830. This encompasses both the mountain man and rendezvous era that took place here during that time.
Gilchrist says he looks forward to the opportunity to serve in his new capacity.
“It took many generations to get the museum to this point and it is an honor to do my part and I take that pretty seriously,” he said. “This is a tremendous opportunity at a first-class organization and institution.”