I want to tell you about a wonderful museum in a quiet little Indiana town. Wabash has been a city since the 1830's, and there has been a museum since the 1850's. But it wasn't until five years ago that all the wonderful treasures of the county could be fully displayed and enjoyed. That is when the new museum opened. House on two floors, the flow of the museum guides us through the geologic formations of the county, to the early years of the Erie Canal, onto Wabash's beginnings as a town.
Our town is most notable for being the first electrically lighted city in the world. In March, 1880, 4 Brush lamps were placed on the pinnacle of the courthouse. People could see light from five miles away!
Another famous person from Wabash is Mark C. Honeywell, inventor of the Honeywell thermostat. There is a very nice display on him also, as well as Frances Slocum, and a host of other people who were born in Wabash and left to find fame and fortune in the world.
For instance, did you know Crystal Gale was Brenda Webb and always had brown eyes in Wabash, In? Then there is John Corso, set director for a number of Hollywood films. John still volunteers at the library!
On the second floor--the one that most children like--is a dig pit for dinosaur bones; an actual switchboard from the old General Telephone building, a train set that is absolutely fantastic, running from town to town throughout our county. Two cycles offer a grand tour of the county via monitors as a "windshield", which takes the rider on a magical ride from North Manchester all the way to the Mississinewa.
There is also a revolving exhibit on the second floor. Past exhibits have included the Lincoln Exhibit, an award-winning exhibit with art and artifacts from private collectors of the life of Lincoln. There has been an exhibit of the Eagles Theater, a one-hundred year old institution in Wabash; and most recently the Harley-Davidson Exhibit. This is a million dollar extravaganza which has Harley's from 1903 to the present. It is being presented courtesy of another Wabash County institution: Brand't Harley-Davidson. Now in its' 60th year, the exhibit is a rare look at motorcycles from the past and today. If you are lucky, you might tour the museum on a day when Toni Brandt will guide you through and share stories of the motorcycles.
Finally, there is a 15 minute video in the theater that tells all about the county, the importance of three rivers running through the county and how farming is a way of life for many of our residents.
The Gift Shop is chock full of books on our state, small items for children to buy and take him, and a variety of t-shirts, handmade wooden cookware, and other
I volunteer at the library whenever guided tours for school children are needed. Through the philanthropy of a number of individuals in the county, all children grade K-12 can use the museum FREE when accompanied on a school tour with their teacher. How many places offer that???
The staff of the library is so very knowledgeable. The Archives Department is filled with answers to questions so many people have about their ancestry. The basement (off limits to the general public) houses wonderful antiquities which will be used at some point in time in various displays.
When tours are slated in advance, every effort is made to have the exact material needed for the presentation, with enough volunteers (who have been given time to acclimate themselves to the subject) so that children are allowed to have a "hands on" experience.
Recently, I hosted a wedding rehearsal dinner at the museum. So many of the guests were from New York, Ohio and other parts of the state. About an hour was given for touring the museum. When they were finished, so many commented on what a wonderful place it is, and how they had learned so much about the town. Some of the guests were lifelong Wabash residents and went home with a new fact or two about where they live.
Ask just about anyone who lives in Wabash and they will fill with pride when talking about their town and the county. It is a wonderful treasure trove, but to my mind there is no nicer place to spend a snowy winter afternoon or a morning filled with noisy kids that our museum. It is simply a glorious adventure through the time and space known as Wabash County.