History on Display at Big Timbers Museum

History was being made while our past was being celebrated at the Big Timbers Museum in Lamar, Saturday, October 1st.

Two occasions were noted; the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Prowers County Historical Society’s Big Timbers Museum and groundbreaking for the future Tri-State 9/11 Tribute Memorial on the museum’s property.

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The two-part festivities included music from the Take Five Jazz Band as well as singers from Alta Vista Charter School, various food vendors, a silent auction and free admission for the Transportation and Big Timbers Museum. Various dignitaries addressed the crowd on the historical significance and contributions the museum has had, displaying artifacts and information, donated by several generations of residents for public viewing.

Historical Society President, Linda Hawkins, welcomed the gathering and thanked each of the Historical Society board members for their continuing dedication to the museum. Lamar Mayor Roger Stagner remarked on the importance of the museum, “If you don’t know where you’ve been, you don’t know where you’re going,” adding his thanks to the Prowers County Commissioners for the support they have given to the museum over the years and for their efforts in bringing the Transportation Museum into a reality.

County Commissioner, Henry Schnabel, continued on the theme of the relevance of history for the community. “I’m sure there are items within the museum which hold many memories for local residents and myself.  There may be an OB table displayed that I was born on,” he quipped.  Commissioner Schnabel spoke about the connections the museum displays between the generations, from simple, everyday items our grandparents took for granted to historical photographs which allowed a view of persons and a different lifestyle from 80 to 90 years ago.  He recounted how, after the County had decided to purchase several dozen antique wagons, the idea of a tin shed in which to store them was mentioned.  Pointing out the CDOT Transportation Museum, he said the county can be proud of the building which has received so many donations from residents, putting their family heirlooms on display.

Big Timbers Museum Curator, Kathleen Scranton, said, “Our success at the museum has been defined by the generosity of the County, starting with the donation of the building by the AT&T Phone Company in 1966.” She gave thanks to the Historical Society for all the work the group has volunteered in categorizing all the display items.

Board member, Sharon Hetrick, recounted the early days of the Society and the history of her family’s involvement in the museum, dating back to the Weldon-Green families and the role they played in establishing the museum.

U.S. Congressman Ken Buck from the 4th Congressional District, remarked on the groundbreaking ceremony for the 9/11 Tribute Memorial. “This memorial will honor those persons who have risked or given their lives in defense of their nation and first responders who continue to serve their neighbors in the country.  Many of these people never stopped to give a thought of their own welfare while they were securing the safety of others.  And many gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan to ensure that the battle they fought would not reach our land.”

Following the groundbreaking for the memorial, just south of the Museum, Tribute organizer, Doug Harbour expressed his thanks to those involved in either the annual Tribute or to the development of the memorial. He stated, ”There are reasons why we have the annual festivities each September for our responders.  The memorial will offer a way to show our youth that we honor these people for their efforts and their patriotism and love of country.  This is a way to remind them of those contributions.”  Harbour explained that the next steps for moving the memorial forward will be erecting a flagpole at the site first and pending funding, working outwards to the perimeter of the memorial with four positions representing armed forces and first responders as well as a wall of name plates.  “We have a grant underway with Home Depot and I’m speaking with El Pomar representatives for an update on funding for the second phase of the project.”

By Russ Baldwin


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