RBC I Visitors to Meeker’s White River Museum seem to find a favorite piece or area that takes them back to a different time and place, when and where they are filled with the wonder of what life was like for the area’s pioneers.
The museum offers something of interest to everyone, including children and adults. Its focus is on local history of the White River region and it offers a collection of all things relating to the pioneers of the White River Valley. The museum has thousands of artifacts and collectibles on display.
The museum is open seven days a week. Although admission to the museum is free, donations are accepted and encouraged.
One can also support the museum by joining the Rio Blanco County Historical Society, and the RBCHS’s annual membership drive is going on at this time.
The museum opened the doors at its current location at 565 Park St. in 1957. The two log buildings that house the museum date back to 1880.
The museum counts more than 3,000 guests annually. Last summer, the museum hosted folks from 45 states and 13 countries. In 2013, the museum hosted 3,145 visitors, there were 3,318 guests in 2012, and there were 3,607 visitors in 2011
“We have visitors from all over the world; they seem to come from everywhere,” curator Ardith Douglas said.
Douglas moved to Meeker in 1970 with her husband and two daughters, and she has been at the museum for the last 25 years.
One of Douglas’ favorite exhibits is the 1887 high chair/stroller.
In addition to the many static displays, the White River Museum hosts numerous field trips each year. In 2014, school buses came from as far away as Yampa.
A favorite exhibit among the kids visiting the museum is the child-sized barber chair circa 1918-1920. Hop’s Barber Shop was the original home of the chair.
Also displayed is a collection of antique toys that includes fire trucks and dolls.
Most kids seem to be fascinated with the two-headed calf mount as well. The unusual calf was born in 1934, suffering from a rare birth defect. It lived only six hours.
The museum also has a “kitchen” space dedicated to the display of cooking gadgets and appliances of the past. Among those items is the first electric refrigerator used in Meeker—a 1929 General Electric.
There is also a portable pantry brought to Meeker in 1900, and there is a multitude of other items, including grinders, butter churns, waffle irons and even antique cream separators.
An area popular with the male visitors is located at the back of the museum. The area is dedicated to the spirit of the wild West and early forms of transportation. On display is a large collection of saddles and even a real stage coach. The museum also houses a gun collection that includes rifles dating back to the Civil War era. Among the many guns on display is a Colt Frontier six-shooter taken from Meeker bank robbers.
Other popular exhibits are the rock/mineral collection, the coin/bill collection and the antique machinery and furniture.
For more information, contact the museum at 878-9982.