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Front Page » October 1, 2013 » Emery County News » Museum of the San Rafael hits the big 20
Published 1,243 days ago

Museum of the San Rafael hits the big 20

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It was a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Museum of the San Rafael on Sept. 25. The Bailey Basket was on display. It is on loan for one year from the state archives and was found by Ferron resident Jon Bailey. This is a pot within a basket found near Emery.

Randy Jensen, museum board chairman welcomed everyone to the celebration.

The Huntington Men's Glee Club sang the National Anthem, God Bless my Dear Mountain Home and 50 saddles in the old corral.

Dottie Grimes presented an award to Vernell and Kathaleen Rowley for their contributions in preserving Emery County history. She said the early settlers and cattlemen to the area found much of the remnants left behind by early Emery County dwellers. They found the rock art, petroglyphs, pit houses and many other reminders of past cultures. They found the dinosaur tracks and dinosaur bones. At one time, the San Rafael was a well kept secret, but it is now known worldwide and people from other countries like to come and visit.

Grimes pointed out Vernell's expertise in all matters pertaining to Emery County. He knows where all the rock art is located. He began GPS work on all the sites and locations of artifacts as well as cabins and structures built by the early pioneers. Vernell has taken his turn as Historical Society President and Kathaleen has been on the museum board. During his tenure as the president he placed the Spanish Trail signs marking where the Old Spanish Trail came through Emery County. Some of these signs are still in place.

Vernell has also done work to GPS the spots where the old uranium mines are located in the county.

Grimes said it is important to know where all these things are so we don't forget the past. She believes it's important to use the people we have with the knowledge of these things as living history teachers and she encourages them to write everything down so the knowledge can be passed on to others not as familiar with the area.

Vernell has conducted many field trips for the Historical Society as their tour guide.

Vernell and Kathaleen received a plaque in recognition of their service to the county.

Evelyn Huntsman spoke of the Historical Society activities coming up in the next three months. In October on the 24th, author Carla Kelly who lives in Wellington will be the guest speaker. She will speak on her research of her book on the Winter Quarters mine disaster.

Huntsman said the BLM has granted permission to the Historical Society to reproduce the DVD on the uranium mining in the Swell. This will be available at no cost. Also the old red history book from 1880-1980 will be available on DVD for $10.

The November meeting will focus on Veterans and World War II.

For the December meeting it will be the Christmas social and antique show. Bring an antique and tell its story.

Jan Petersen was also honored on this night at the museum. She was the first museum director for the Museum of the San Rafael.

Her husband Kent Petersen spoke of her many accomplishments. "Jan became involved with the museum during its construction. She joined the museum board.

The museum was constructed with a $1 million grant from the Community Impact Board. It was the first project in the county to receive CIB funding. At the time counties couldn't apply so Castle Dale City put forth the application. The CIB money comes from royalties including coal, gas and oil. So you could say the local coal mines built the museum.

"Jon Judd was the project manager and Nielson Construction the general contractor.

"Jon worked with all of the different professionals who assembled the dinosaurs.

"We ran out of money so we approached the CIB again for a half a million to complete the museum and to purchase displays and exhibits.

"We began looking around for displays. There was a museum in Las Vegas that was going out of business and we were able to get some really good exhibits from them.

"Jan worked very closely with the board and talking to local people to find what was available. She talked to Gene and Virginia Talbot, Clifford Oviatt and Dixon Peacock. Taxidermy animals were donated to the museum. We have a cougar, elk, bear, big horn sheep and a pronghorn was recently donated.

"Jan spent a lot of time taking care of the museum, she would turn on the sprinklers and then go to work and come back on her break and turn them off. She was a volunteer and eventually we were able to get her $7 an hour for four hours a day.

"She kept the museum going. The board appointed her as the museum director. The county paid the utilities for the museum to help out Castle Dale City. After the 10 year agreement with the CIB was met, the county and Castle Dale came to an agreement to pass ownership of the museum to the county.

"Jan was appointed by the governor to the board for the office of museum services. Here she met museum heads from all over the state. She wrote grants and brought traveling exhibits to the museum. She attended national museum panels where she educated people on how to

improve small rural museums.

"She brought the traveling World War II exhibit to the museum from the Smithsonian. She brought in an exhibit from China. The museum was part of the statehood day celebration with a dinner at the museum and a program at the high school.

"She obtained a grant to replace the windows at the Pioneer Museum. She started a folk art festival in conjunction with the county fair where craftsmen brought in their art work. The museum belongs to the people. There have been many wedding receptions and public meetings here. She's worked on the museum for 22 years. She's been instrumental in encouraging people to donate to the museum their precious artifacts. She loved to talk to the visitors and tell them about the mountains and the desert.

"She deserves to be honored by this museum," said Kent Petersen.

Jan was invited forward for the presentation of her award by Megan Wilberg the acting museum director.

Jan said the museum started with nothing as far as exhibits went but with a lot of effort, love and dedication the museum has become what it is today.

The museum belongs to the people of Emery County. One visitor to the museum the other day commented on how lucky this little town is to have such a nice facility and building to show off the wonderful exhibits.

Jan said the Glee Club was asked to sing at one of the first programs at the museum. An old piano was found, but the Glee Club decided the museum needed a nice piano. They put together a benefit to purchase a piano for the museum.

Many of the exhibits for the new museum were brought over from the pioneer museum.

"Clifford Oviatt has spent hundreds of hours here working on the murals. He's done a wonderful job. We have made do with what we have due to limited funding. This is a precious jewel of Emery County. We the people have made it what it is. The Green Thumb program and volunteers kept the museum going when there was no paid staff. We hold the stories of this museum deep in our hearts. This museum is filled with treasures. This museum is a labor of love. Thank you for this honor" said Jan.

Jensen said, "I want everyone to have a great experience and get involved with the museum. Think of what you can do and think of ideas for new exhibits and activities. This museum is the history of Emery County."

Jensen told of a thesis written by John Jorgensen about the history of Emery County. It's now been put into book form and is available at the museum. It is an amazing history of Emery County before 1880.

Bill Jorgensen told of his father Floyd's pencil drawings. His father herded sheep and later had a cattle operation. While he was out herding once the sheep were settled down they would sketch on old paper sacks and even the tent they stayed in. He came to the Progress newspaper and picked up paper rollends to draw upon too.

Jorgensen said the drawings were just hanging around and he had a couple and his sister had the rest. He, with the encouragement of his wife Mae decided to frame some of these pictures. He visited his sister and collected a lot of drawings from her. These drawings are now on display in the museum and also prints have been made from them for the gift shop and they are available for purchase and all funds raised stay with the museum.

Jan suggested the sketches be made into postcards.

Floyd was born in Castle Valley and grew up here. He attended school until the eighth grade at which time he went to work to help the family by herding sheep. His brother Lester was a partner in the sheep business.

He also started running cattle in his later years when he became sick of the sheep. During the years, none of his sketches were of sheep, because he hated sheep. He sketched a lot of pictures of cattle and horses. Floyd penciled 71 original sketches over the years.

Jensen encouraged everyone to visit the museum and see the new displays. A new display on the mammoth find in Huntington Canyon is coming soon. There are also new displays monthly in the Pioneer Museum.

The celebration concluded with cake and tours of the museum.

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