In a place like southern Wyoming, where western history is as rich as it is diverse, touring the museums and historic sites is a great way to broaden your view of the world. Whether you’re a museum junkie with an appetite for history or simply curious about the old West, be sure to include these four museums in your visit to southern Wyoming.
Grand Encampment Museum
No wonder it’s called the “GEM” of Southern Wyoming. It is clearly one of the best attractions! The GEM features 15 buildings that are perfectly restored with hundreds of artifacts dating back to the Copper Boom era from the early-1890’s to 1920. Be sure to take a free tour as that is the only way to get inside the buildings to see the period furnishings. But even if the buildings are closed, you can still peek inside the windows. A two-story outhouse, a fire lookout tower and a segment of the Aerial Tramway that ran 16 miles between Encampment and the Ferris Haggerty Mine are among the highlights. The Museum also houses the Lora Webb Nichols Collection, which is one of the largest collections of photos from the early 1900’s in the West!
Location: 807 Barnett Ave. • Encampment, WY 82325
Open: Memorial Weekend – early October: Tuesday.-Saturday 9am-5pm & Sunday 12-4pm
Annual Event: Mountain Man Rendezvous and Living History Day – July 26-28, 2019
Wander through an original train depot and get the local history of Saratoga! Although it looks small, the Saratoga Museum actually has three floors (main, upstairs and basement). You will be amazed by the broad range of local artifacts. Outside, you’ll find a homestead cabin with pioneer and tie hack tools, sheep wagon, caboose and a jade boulder weighing over 2,700 pounds! The geology exhibit is most impressive with it’s diverse collection of minerals, gems and fossils–especially the fossilized dinosaur poop!
Location: 104 E. Constitution Avenue • Saratoga, WY 82331 (across from the airport)
Open: Year round, seven days a week: Monday-Saturday 10am – 4pm & Sunday 10am – 2pm
Annual Event: C.J. Box Trivia Contest and Dinner – August 3, 2019
Nici-Self Historical Museum
Plan to spend some time here. There’s a lot to see! This museum captures the history of the small frontier town of Centennial and it’s industrious pioneers. Nine well-preserved historic buildings, a garden and 31 antique equipment exhibits will acquaint you with the mining, ranching, and railroading history of the area. Highlights include the original 1907 Laramie Hahn’s Peak & Pacific Railroad Depot, a skid shack from a tie hack camp, a beehive burner used at a local sawmill, a one-room school house that was in use from the early 1900’s through the early 1960’s, horse-drawn plows, a stamp mill for crushing ore and a Union Pacific caboose in excellent condition.
Location: 2734 Highway 130 • Centennial, WY 82055
Open: Memorial Weekend – Labor Day: Thursday-Monday: 12-4pm; Open weekends in September 12-4pm
Annual Event: Nici Self Museum Art Show and Sale – July 6-7, 2019
Little Snake River Museum
One look at the historic cabins and houses that frame the grounds and you’ll want to tour the Little Snake River Museum! It’s a truly authentic experience walking through these buildings and seeing household furnishings as they were in their time. The Jim Baker Cabin, built in 1873, and the Strobridge House, built in 1882, are simply remarkable. The main building, formerly the Savery School until 1972, is full of fascinating artifacts and exhibits that capture the history of the Snake River Valley.
Location:13 County Rd 561 N (located one block north of HWY 70) • Savery, WY 82332
Open: Memorial Weekend – mid-October: Open daily from 10 am to 5 pm
Annual Event: Ride the Divide Antique Tractor Drive – July