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Legacy of the Plains shows strong progress
May 01, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis

Photo by Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen - Nancy Haney of the Legacy of the Plains Museum explains a preliminary layout design as the new Legacy of the Plains Museum east of Gering continues to grow.

After only three years, the Legacy of the Plains Museum (LPM) continues to progress toward its goal of being among the area’s standout museums.

It was in 2011 when board members of the Farm And Ranch Museum and the North Platte Valley Museum started discussing a potential merger of the facilities. With strong support from the entire community, that vision has become a reality that continues to grow.

LPM executive director Katie Bradshaw and several board members spoke with the media on Monday on the museum’s progress.

She said the annex building, north of the main building, will be open sometime in May. The 10,000 square foot facility will have unique agriculture and transportation artifacts from both museums’ collections. Some examples include a 1915 Patriot truck (built in Lincoln, Neb.), a World War I era glider, a 1930s vintage Ford and a 1890s era bicycle.

A newly acquired vehicle, never displayed before, came from an estate in Hemingford. It’s a 1929 “Snow Bird,” a Ford Model A converted with a half-track and skis on the front to allow the vehicle to travel in deep snow. It was used during the Blizzard of 1949.

“We’re promoting this because we’ve been accepted into the state’s Passport Program,” Bradshaw said. “Their theme this year is “How We Move,’ so our display will fit in well.”

Progress also continues on the Wiedeman farmstead building, which is part of a complex that will represent houses from different eras of our local history, from a sod house to a log cabin to a 1950s era house.

“We’re hoping to have it ready by about May 27, but that’s very tentative,” said LPM assistant director Nancy Haney. “We still have lots of exterior work to get done before then. That property will make the transition from horse-drawn machinery to tractor-powered machinery, from a time with no electricity on the farm to having it.”

Because LPM is still a “work in progress,” the museum won’t be charging admission for the season, but will ask for freewill donations to help with operations.

The main gallery will be closed this tourism season as construction continues. Ultimately, the majority of the displays will be completely redesigned into seven theme zones to better tell the story of our area’s history.

Bradshaw said there will still be activities at the museum over the summer, including a pedal tractor course for the kids and hayrack rides around the campus. There will also be demonstrations on many of the activities common on the farm.

George Schlothauer is heading up the capital campaign and said it has been extremely successful so far. They museum has raised around $1.9 million with another $1.2 million to go.

“The community has been extremely helpful in supporting what we’re doing,” Schlothauer said. “It’s our goal to turn this into a world class museum.”

For more information about the Legacy of the Plains Museum, visit them at 2939 Old Oregon Trail in Gering or call (308) 436-1989.
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