The Yellowstone Historic Center Museum hosted a grand closing reception last Saturday, following a busy season and more changes to come.
“It was a really good season for us. Visitation was up and sales in our bookstore were up about 15 percent,” YHC museum manager and curator Jen Cantu said on Saturday.
Cantu has resigned from her position as the museum manager and curator to pursue other interests, but said she feels that a lot of progress has been made in the past few years.
Current staff member Ed Geiger will sign on as the newly titled YHC manager starting Nov 1.
YHC staffers, volunteers and board members presented Cantu with flowers and a cake for a job well done.
More changes continue to progress as the museum features a variety of exhibits and displays each year, including the new, student-produced “Learning in Wonderland” exhibit.
Museum visitors were invited to stop by the closing reception to view “Learning in Wonderland” and share their stories last Saturday.
The exhibit, featuring a historical look at schools in the area, was put together by West Yellowstone High School class of 2012 member Maisie Gospodarek. After receiving a scholarship to complete the exhibit, Gospodarek spent the summer and early fall months working under the supervision of the staff of the Yellowstone Historic Center and the West Yellowstone Public Library, researching and producing the exhibit. The student scholarship was funded through a grant from the West Yellowstone Foundation.
Visitors could view a timeline and photos of old school buildings or cabins that housed temporary schools. A bell, formerly used at an area school and now owned by the Community Protestant Church, as well as other memorabilia were on display.
“There are so many schools (in the area) a lot of people don’t know about,” Gospodarek said.
She added that the project was particularly important to her because she was born and raised and attended school from kindergarten through 12th grade in West Yellowstone.
“Ed Geiger had catalogued some of the information and Jan Dunbar had people write down accounts of going to school here,” Gospodarek said. “I looked through all the information they had collected and made it into a coherent exhibit. With my relationship to this town and this school, that’s mostly why I did what I did.”
Her interest in West Yellowstone’s history stems from a high school English project where she interviewed residents and business owners about the town and how it has changed and grown with time.
“For a little 100-year-old town, there is a lot of history,” she said.
The exhibit will be moved to the West Yellowstone Public Library for the winter season.
As another pleasant end to the season, Yellowstone Bus #434 was taken back to Red Lodge for the winter.
Brothers Don, T.J. and John Mueller, of the Buses of Yellowstone Preservation Trust, stopped by the museum to load up the bus and attended the reception.
Trust members bring the historic yellow bus from Red Lodge at the start of each season to its summer home in West Yellowstone, where it sits on display in front of the YHC Museum.
“It’s up on the trailer and ready to go right now. We drove it out last season,” Don Mueller said. “Most of the time we haul them, but we drove it up through Sunlight Basin, Yellowstone and to West Yellowstone.”
They took an alternative route last spring because Beartooth Pass wasn’t yet open to traffic for the season.
“Our basic mission is to preserve Yellowstone National Park buses and keep them in operating order,” Mueller said.
There are currently five buses in the fleet that belong to their group.
Most recently, Bus #401 was purchased by the group from a family in Bozeman.
“We are preserving the bus,” Mueller said.
The YHC Museum will open its doors for another season starting next spring. For more information, visit www.yellowstonehistoriccenter.org.