Carson Valley Museum digs up new exhibit
July 3, 2018
Museum artifacts come from many sources. Most are from family donations or by special acquisition, but on rare occasions an artifact manifests itself in strange and unexpected manners. Such was the case at the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center. While site cleaning the museum's side yard in preparation of a special site presentation of the proposed Edwin L. Wiegand Ranching and Agricultural Heritage Exhibit, an unexpected discovery was made in an even more unexpected manner.
A forklift moving pallets of salvaged bricks collapsed the wooden cover to an unknown feature not disclosed on any of the museum's architectural plans. At first it was believed to be an abandoned septic tank used in conjunction with the building during its early years as the Douglas County High School, but on further inspection it was revealed to be an abandoned well, complete with its circa 1930-1940 centrifugal lift pump still in place.
Though the well was not shown on any of the plans it was well known by the school's students. Dale Bohlman (Class of 1959) was consulted and recalled a pump house at the location fondly referred to as "The Dog House." Work is now in progress to close out the well and salvaged the pump to be displayed as artifact in the proposed ranching exhibit. Once the pump is salvaged, staff is eager to try and identify its history. When asked about the discovery Dennis Little, president of the historical society's board of trustees responded, "Well, there's never a dull moment when you're operating a 100-year-old building."
The Douglas County Historical Society received a challenge grant from the Edwin L. Wiegand Trust to build an outdoor ranching heritage exhibit. The society is now in the process of raising the required $100,000 in funds to qualify for the grant. There will be an open house at the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center, 1477 U.S. Highway 395, Gardnerville, on Aug. 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.