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Museum opens first big exhibit on Saturday

Before the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center opened in the old Douglas County High School building 25 years ago, Historical Society President Glenn Logan told a reporter the guiding philosophy was to obtain and maintain artifacts and the historical heritage of Carson Valley.

This year, the Gardnerville museum opens its first big expansion in a quarter century Saturday.

Doors open 10 a.m. with a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. at the museum, located at 1479 Main St., in Gardnerville.

Work began on a new outdoor agriculture exhibit in July 2019, according to Project Manager Frank Dressel.

“This is the biggest thing since we became a museum,” Dressel said.

The Edwin L. Wiegand Ranching and Agricultural Heritage Exhibit got its first new large piece in February when a 1939 D2 Caterpillar donated by Bruce Park was moved into place.

Weighing in at 9,000 pounds, moving the tractor was a project in itself, ensuring it will be part of the exhibit into the future.

“He got this when he was a kid brand new,” Dressel said.

Built by Genoa Company, the agricultural exhibit

The museum raised $100,000 to qualify for a $229,500 Edwin L. Wiegand Trust grant to build the outdoor exhibit.

The caterpillar joins some exhibits donated by Budd and Ruth Dressler back when the museum project was in its infancy.

In 1988, just months after announcing the society would renovate the old school, the Dresslers donated a 1920s era threshing machine, along with a horse-drawn mowing machine and an antique potato cultivator.

The thresher has resided between the museum and the Old Gym Playhouse for the last three decades, awaiting a worthy home.

Dressel said that as soon as the work on the agricultural exhibit is complete, the museum will bring out the dairy exhibits and the cow to join the equipment on display.

The 2,820-square-foot exhibit opens Saturday.

The Gardnerville museum opened Aug. 19, 1995, after seven years of planning and work.

It was the second time the society had converted a school to a museum, the first was the Genoa Courthouse Museum, which served as the Genoa school for longer than it had actually been a courthouse.

Built more than a century ago, the old high school served Carson Valley students for six decades before the school was moved to its current location in Minden in the 1970s.

In 1988, the Douglas County School Board leased the school to the historical society for $1 over the next century.

Historical society members began raising money in donations and grants to restore the building. Their goal was to raise $500,000, but in the end the project cost at least twice that.