When Ruth & I entered the Show Low Historical Society Museum on Deuce of Clubs Street, the town’s craft ladies were working in the next room. That’s how I eventually got to hear, and be amazed by, a thunder gourd. Although it’s only opened Wednesday to Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm seasonally, this museum draws about 4,000 visitors per year. The day of our visit was March 22 and the Show Low Historical Society Museum had just recently reopened. The folks who run it told me that no one leaves unsatisfied. Ruth & I are among those very pleased. Although it’s not the kind of museum I usually like, I was totally charmed by SLHSM.
Established in 1995, it sprawls through 2 buildings and 16 rooms. The rooms are listed on showlowmuseum.com. It’s in a once-upon-a-time police building, and Room #12 is the well-preserved Jail Room where rowdy citizens used to spend the night. Five families started this museum. Each of them took a room. That’s why one of the 16 is named Whipple Family Room. Described as a real cowboy, Wendell “Winkie” Whipple was once President of the local historical society.
I asked Carol her favorite room and she said, “Eb Lewis”. My favorite was the province of the Silver Creek Railroad Club. Room #3, The Rodeo Chedeski Fire, was a close second. I don’t know Ruth’s favorite room but every time I went looking for her she was chatting with the craft ladies.
The Eb Lewis Room was certainly singular. It honored a former rodeo clown who ran what was described to me as a junk shop. Before he died, Eb often showed up in the 4th of July Parade. One year he popped out of an old washing machine. It’s now in the Eb Lewis Room.
The magnificent model railroad display set up and supervised by the Silver Creek Railroad Club was being tested for the season. A young volunteer named Noah appeared to be really enjoying himself. The train display recreates the town of Winslow in the Route 66 Era and I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s simply not a traditional train display. It has a big railroad yard, realistically depicits a police-assisted fender-bender, and shows trees in seasonal change. Its backdrop was painted by local artist Steve Taylor, who recreated actual and fantasy Arizona scenes. That’s Monument Valley below. Another shows Arizona’s 2nd Highest peak, Mount Baldy, the highest point in the White Mountains.
The Chedeski Fire occurred in 2002. Although it burned for 4 months and resulted in mass evacuations, it wasn’t the area’s worst 21st century fire. That would be 2011’s Wallow, the largest fire in Arizona’s history.
Room after room in the Show Low Historical Society Museum relates local stories because this museum is unique. It allows people to put items on loan instead of donating them. That’s why these rooms connect 4 generations. The youngest generation come in with older family members who can often explain each artifact. Family history lives on in Show Low.
This museum is a gem!