Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Museum setting out to make history

Colorado River Historical Society and Museum President Elsie Needles, right, and Virginia Sutherland, CRHSM founding member and volunteer opened the doors to a new season on Tuesday.

The Daily News

BULLHEAD CITY — The Colorado River Historical Society and Museum is making some history of their own.

“We’re so excited about this new season at the museum,” said Elsie Needles, CRHSM president. “Today is the museum’s opening day, we’re working on our 25th anniversary, and two phases of the Heritage Center have been completed. Moving the museum to the Heritage Center is next in the plan.”

The Colorado River Heritage Center at Bullhead Community Park is being created in four phases, Needles said. The first phase, the installation of the old Moss Mine Head Frame at Community Park was made possible through a partnership between Golden Vertex and the city of Bullhead City. Phase Two was completed in August when the 1947 Lil’ Red Schoolhouse was moved from its location near Lee Avenue and Third Street to Community Park. The building served as Bullhead City’s first school and will function as a museum of its own, complete with period displays.

Phase Three involves moving the Colorado River Museum to the complex, and the fourth phase plans the creation of a Heritage Center administration building.

“The head frame is done, the Lil’ Red Schoolhouse is moved — a ribbon cutting is scheduled for Sept. 26 in conjunction with the first Heritage Days celebration— and the museum is next,” Needles said.

A nonprofit operation of the historical society, the Colorado River Museum is housed in a building that once served as a Catholic church for workers who built Davis Dam in the 1940s and is placed in a corner of Davis Camp, just north of the Laughlin Bridge on Highway 68. Closed during June, July and August, the museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, September to May.

“I love volunteering here,” said Margo Dunkelman, who along with volunteer Glen Thompson works the museum on Tuesdays. “It’s very interesting and I’ve really enjoyed learning the history of Bullhead City. I used to volunteer somewhere else too, but this is much more fun.”

The Colorado River Historical Society formed in 1963 with two primary missions — the preservation of the area’s heritage and to open a history museum.

“The museum began with nothing,” said Virginia Sutherland, CRHSM founding member and long-time volunteer. “We had lots of support in the beginning from local business and were lucky enough to get some really interesting photos and artifacts.”

Museum displays tell of the Mojave Indians, the Katherine Gold Mine, the history of the Mohave Valley and Fort Mojave, memorabilia from Laughlin, the region’s ties to Louis L’amour and more. The museum has hours of historic video available to view and are working on new displays of local interest.

In the children’s room are wildlife displays and a historic dollhouse. Children are also given the opportunity to make a cornhusk doll.

“The event schedule is packed too,” said Karole Finkelstein, CRHSM vice president. “We have a slate of monthly speakers including Olivia Brasson-McCormick, historian Cheryl Mangin and Dennis Casebier of Goffs, Calif., founder of Friends of the Mojave Road. We have road tours of historic points and we’ll have a booth at the Heritage Days celebration. We over a very popular motor tour that starts at the museum and then goes on the road to about 15 historic locations in the area.

“We encourage anyone interested in learning more about the history of Bullhead City and the Mohave Valley to stop in. We ask for a $2 donation from adults and children are free.”

For more information about the motor tours, call Finkelstein at 928-219-2582. For more information about the museum, call 928-754-3399.