By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
The recent passing of an acclaimed Yukon historian has one city leader looking for new people to “carry the flag” so the town’s abundant history can stay alive.
Ward 1 City Council Member Rick Cacini is seeking help from other city officials and citizens in a new effort to revitalize three downtown museums – the Yukon Historical Society Museum, Yukon Farm Museum and Yukon Railroad Museum.
“Route 66 goes right through the center of our town,” Cacini said. “We have these three museums that would be an attraction if they can be open for people to come see.
“I think the City of Yukon should prosper with this attraction right in the middle of town.”
The railroad museum and historical society museum are housed in converted train boxcars near W Main (Route 66) and N 3rd. The farm museum is nearby at Cedar and N 3rd.
Longtime Yukon Historical Society President John Knuppel, who helped manage and maintain the three museums, recently died at age 93.
“But that doesn’t mean these museums have to die,” said Cacini, founder and curator of the Yukon Veterans Museum at 1010 W Main. “It would not take too much more work to clean them up and get them open again, and it would not cost the city a large sum of money.”
Vast collections of documents, photos and other artifacts have been featured on display inside Yukon’s historical society, rail and agricultural museums.
Unfortunately, these sites haven’t been able to stay open regularly for the public to enjoy.
“Being able to move this (museum revitalization) effort forward is very important to help preserving the history of our community,” Yukon Main Street Director Vicki Davis said.
IT TAKES A COMMITTEE
A committee of stakeholders would be needed to lead the revitalization effort and determine the next steps.
Cacini is encouraging input from Mayor Shelli Selby, new City Manager Tammy Kretchmar and Davis “so we can work together and get it done.”
“We need a clear understanding who owns what,” he said. “Let’s get the people who are familiar with all this stuff together.”
Davis referred to the benefits of cultural sites, museums and historic collections in attracting people to a community’s downtown district.
“Downtown is an historic business center,” Yukon’s Main Street director said. “People come to downtown because of the unique experience and visiting the unique shops.”
Members of the Dale Robertson Center could serve as volunteer guides.
“We have manpower,” Cacini reasoned. “Seniors of our community would enjoy helping out at these museums. They have the knowledge to explain what’s in front of them.”
The city council member also believes the city should establish a downtown visitors’ center where the Main Street director could direct visitors to the museums.
The three museums near Third and Main are hidden historic treasures that should be tourist destinations bringing visitors to the community, local advocates said.
“I’d really like to get something going here to make them a center of our town,” Cacini said. “We have an attraction, but we need to further develop and market it.
“We have to have something in our city that people want to come to see.”