Friday, July 28, 2017

Well worth the trip – the Anna Miller Museum in Newcastle

by Larry Miller

Our traipsing around the Black Hills region to explore out-of-the-way museums started a few years ago with friends Don Matthesen and Perry Beguin.  It's been a good way to experience some fellowship, learn a bit about local history, and perhaps discover – or occasionally revisit – some good places to eat along the way.

So one early morning last week (but well after sunrise!) we crowded in to my Toyota and set out on a trek to the southern Black Hills of Wyoming.

Our first objective, however, was to have breakfast at Dave's "Stage Stop Cafe" at Cheyenne Crossing south of Spearfish.  It did not disappoint.  Nourishment, after all, is important for explorers.  We were about to traverse steep hills and deep gulches in a quest for knowledge about earlier generations.  Many of those earlier folks were looking for gold.  Some settled for silver or even coal.  All were looking for opportunities.  And all of them would have enjoyed today's menu at Cheyenne Crossing! 

Anna Miller Museum is at 401 Delaware St. in Newcastle, Wyoming
Fueled by a good breakfast, we were soon scooting up U.S. 85 toward O'Neil Pass en route to our destination:  the Anna Miller Museum in Newcastle, Wyoming!

Perched on a knoll in the southeast part of town, the old sandstone building was built by the Works Project Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression and first used as a cavalry stable for the Wyoming Army National Guard.  

We arrived by 10 o'clock and spent the next couple of hours learning not only about why folks settled here, but also why many stayed.  

When the railroad came through these parts in the 1880s, coal was discovered north of town and gave rise to the Cambria coal mine.

Visitors to the museum will be delighted to find excellent exhibits and artifacts that reveal the fascinating development of Cambria, Wyoming – once a thriving community in its own right. 

In the spring of 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt came to town and made quite a splash.  And his visit is well documented.

Ranching and petroleum refining would bolster the economy, and the wildlife and scenery would add to the quality of life for early settlers.

Of course, two hours was only enough time to whet our appetites for more.   The museum research room is rich with resources and extremely well organized.  Family researchers and historians – both professional and amateurs – will find it helpful. 

The Anna Miller Museum is part of the Weston County Museum District.  It's open year 'round from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

And did we mention that it's free?  Of course, contributions are welcome and help support this classy little museum.  You'll find a sampling of museum exhibits, along with a bit of additional information –  in this Anna Miller Museum Gallery.

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