Our History

1922

The building at 700 Broadway is constructed and opens for business as the Ford Garage. Over the years it goes through incarnations as a Coca Cola bottling plant (early 1930s to mid 1960s), a bowling alley (in the lower floor of the Coca Cola building), and the Technical College of the Rockies (mid 1960s to 1976), before it finally becomes the home of the Hot Springs County Museum.

April, 1929

Dora McGrath and other early settlers form the Hot Springs County Pioneer Association, to preserve the history of Thermopolis and Hot Springs County. Mrs. McGrath, the widow of one of the first Thermopolis businessmen, is elected in 1931 as the first woman to serve in the Wyoming State Senate. Another early Pioneer Association member is Eleanor Bridger Hahn, daughter of famed mountain man Jim Bridger.

1938

Work begins to build a Pioneer Association Museum. Land on Spring View Avenue is leased from the town of Thermopolis. The museum is built by Pioneer Association members, other volunteers from the community, and employees of the Works Progress Administration (a Depression-era project to provide employment for young men out of work).

July 4, 1941

Grand Opening of the Pioneer Association Museum. The Museum is operated entirely by volunteers.

1950's

A small living quarters is built on the back of the Museum building and a caretaker is hired.

1963

Lack of funding threatens the Museum's continued existence, and the Pioneer Association asks the Commissioners of Hot Springs County to take over Museum operations. The Pioneer Association Museum becomes the Hot Springs County Museum.

1967

A fire beginning in the caretaker's quarters severely damages the Museum building and artifacts. Repairs are made and the Museum re-opens, but it becomes obvious that a new building will soon be needed.

1976

The Museum location is chosen as the site of a new elementary school, and the search for a new Museum building begins.

1977

The Hot Springs County Commissioners decide to open a Community Center which will house the Museum as well as providing space for performances, meetings and art shows. The Commissioners purchase the Ford Garage building at 700 Broadway, and the Museum collection is moved.

1978-9

Alterations are done at 700 Broadway. With room to expand, donations increase and the Museum's collection doubles in size.

1979

The Pioneer Association purchases the cherrywood bar from Tom Skinner's Hole-in-the-Wall Saloon and moves it to the new Museum location.

1980

Grand Opening of the new Hot Springs County Museum and Cultural Center, with a board appointed by the County Commissioners, and a professional staff.

1982

Four lots across the street from the Museum building are purchased for Museum expansion. The one-room Middleton Schoolhouse is acquired from the School District and moved to the Museum complex.

1983-5

Buildings to hold exhibits on area agriculture and the petroleum industry are constructed and opened to the public.

1986

The Burlington Northern Railroad donates a caboose, which is placed in the Museum complext complete with a section of tracks.

1996

A one-room cottage, the last of the "Poverty Flats" houses on Amoretti Street, is donated and moved to the Museum complex.