Keeping the Past Alive

By August 1, 2019 August 8th, 2019 Chamber Corner

The Blaine County Historical Museum is full of stories

The word history is often misunderstood. In fact, if the inventor of the dictionary could go back in time, he’d probably be better off changing it from “history” to “ourstory,” since that is what the word is really all about. History isn’t just the study of the past, it’s the stories of people and places.

The Blaine County Historical Museum (BCHM) in Hailey is dedicated to sharing the story of our home, since every piece in the packed building tells tales about Hailey and Blaine County, Idaho.

“There’s no shortage of stories in here. Each item tells a story and we want it to tell its story well,” Rebecca Cox said, as we toured the museum recently. Rebecca is the new museum director and her goal is to create a “fresh take on things.”

The BCHM was founded in 1962 and first opened its doors a couple years later. It is even housed in a landmark, as the original adobe building at 218 North Main Street was been built in 1882. Before it became the museum, the building was home to the armory, an opera house and even hosted the first local high school graduation. So it’s only fitting that a building with such rich local history would now be filled with even more of it.

Almost every inch of the museum is covered with interesting artifacts. The largest political pin collection outside of the Smithsonian is one of the first things visitors notice, but that’s just the beginning.

The museum has a turn of the 20th century kitchen and classroom, furnishing from the old Gannet Pots Office, and a hospital bed from the Sun Valley Naval Convalesce Hospital open during World War II. The 1948 Olympic Winter Games outfit worn by local Ann Jeanette Winn hangs in one room, while a 1929 Model A Ford stands in another. There are also exhibits honoring Ezra Pound and Blaine County’s rich sheep ranching and mining histories, including a walk-through replica mine.

Since children make up a good percentage of the roughly 2,000 people who visit the museum during the season, the largely volunteer staff has been adding more interactive kids’ experiences. Besides the mine, the museum offers a scavenger hunt as well as working typewriters and a phone from the 1880s that kids can call.

“It’s so fun watching the kids come in, “Rebecca said, adding that there “are no dull days here.”

All of the exhibits in the museum are donated and more come in regularly, but even though their space is limited, there are plans to expand the museum into the adjoining building so they can share even more of our local stories.

The Blaine County Historical Museum is open Memorial Day through October. Hours: daily from 11am to 5pm, opening at 1pm on Sunday s. For more information or to make a donation, please go to BCHistoricalMuseum.org or call 208-788-1801.

By Mike McKenna

This story originally appeared in the Weekly Sun.

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