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Heritage Center works on museum site
Devon Energy is among the contributors to fund a permanent structure to house the Smith Foundation Wax Museum in Riverton. Devon donated $1,000 to the cause. Pictured with a temporary setup of one of the museum displays when the donation was made were, from left, Darlene Raymond, Bill Skelton and Gary Hoesel of Devon, along with Lew Diehl of the Wind River Heritage Center, which has possession of the museum's components. Photo by Wayne Nicholls

Wind River Heritage Center works on museum site

Feb 16, 2012 - Staff

Contributions are accumulating toward establishing a permanent home for the colorful western-themed wax museum display now under the stewardship by the Wind River Heritage Center.

"Area businesses and citizens are stepping up to the plate and donating what they can toward he building and new dioramas," said Heritage center president Lew Diehl of Riverton.

Key recent contributions have come from A.D. Martin Lumber, which contributed $2,000 cash and committed to $10,000 in building materials for a new building for the exhibit, $1,000 from the Lavinia Dobler Trust, and $1,000 from Devon Energy Corp. of Riverton.

"The new building is on site, and there is nearly enough money accumulated to erect it," Diehl said.

Ideally, another $15,000 would be collected before construction begins.

After sufficient funds have been gathered, Diehl said community volunteers would be called upon again.

"Much more community assistance will be needed to design and build the new displays," he said. "Being historically accurate as well as interesting to study will be the ultimate goal.

The wax museum originated in

Jackson and later was moved to Thermopolis in the 1990s.

It was open there for some years but became available for relocation a couple of years ago, and the Wind River Heritage Center moved the wax figures and surrounding displays to Riverton.

Viewers of the exhibit often noted historical inaccuracies and uncertainties at its previous locations, ranging from factually incorrect crediting of Thomas Edison inventing the telephone (Alexander Graham Bell was the inventor), the unverified and often disputed Wyoming claim to the burial site of the famed Lewis and Clark guide Sacagawea, and equally unsubstantiated accounts of the outlaw Butch Cassidy's exploits in Fremont County.

Diehl said he hoped local contributors could add to the historical reliability of the museum when it is reopened while acknowledging that precise factual accuracy could be hard to come by in some cases.

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