By Conrad Dudderar
Three Main Street museums the Yukon Historical Society oversees are available for public tours to anyone interested in learning more about Yukon’s storied past.
Historical society board members are looking for more volunteers and active members, while hoping to soon reestablish regular hours at their museums.
The railroad museum and historical museum – both heated and cooled – are housed in converted train cars near W Main (Route 66) and N 3rd. The farm museum is nearby at Cedar and N 3rd.
During the COVID-19 pandemic and recent wintry weather, open hours have been limited – but Alan Ridgeway wants everyone to know the Yukon Historical Society remains strong.
“We have the farm museum, the railroad museum and also the historical museum,” said Ridgeway, president of the Yukon Historical Society’s board of directors. “If anyone wants to tour, all they have to do is call and make arrangements.”
Yukon residents will learn much by hearing and reading about the town’s history and simpler times – before technology took over many people’s lives.
“I love history and want to share what we have in our museums,” he said. “We as a historical society have a plan for the future, and we are working toward that.”
Museum tours may be scheduled at (405) 514-7896. Information is updated regularly on the “Yukon, Oklahoma Historical Society” Facebook page, where new members are being recruited.
“We’ve been encouraging younger people to become involved,” Ridgeway said. “We do have a lot of members but we’re just trying to get some younger people so we can get more active people involved in projects that we have going right now.”
Joining Ridgeway as the Yukon Historical Society’s officers are Vice President Doug Barnes, Secretary Irene Littlejohn, and Treasurer Louise Hickman.
Ridgeway succeeded renowned Yukon historian John Knuppel, who led the historical society for many years. Knuppel recently died at age 93.
In recent news articles and city council meetings, Yukon City Council Member Rick Cacini suggested the City of Yukon help with the farm, rail and historical museums to encourage tourism.
After city officials met with historical society members, Cacini made it clear the Yukon Historical Society operates their three museums and the Yukon Veterans Museum “stands ready to assist them in any way we can.” Cacini is curator of the Yukon Veterans Museum.
The Yukon Historical Society’s three museums trace the town’s history back to its founding.
The farm museum features two buildings filled with antique tractors, wooden thrashing machines, barbed wire and tool exhibits, and many other agricultural implements.
“The south building was actually built around a 1940s cotton picker,” Ridgeway noted.
The farm museum, founded in the 1990s by longtime Yukon farmer Ernest Berousek, was dedicated in his name.
Anyone who enjoys the farm museum can simply walk a few hundred feet to check out the railroad museum and historical museum in train cars on the north side of Main Street.
“The historical museum is in a chair car,” Ridgeway shared. “The majority of the windows were boarded up for security and weather-proofing. Either people would sit in the chairs and ride, or they’d have it set up as a dining car.”
Many Yukon historical exhibits are in the chair car, with some artifacts also inside the farm museum’s north building.
Visitors can view a wide range of displays ranging from flour mill sacks and mannequins with authentic Czech attire to historic newspaper headlines and Sara Nee Ball’s book about Yukon’s first 100 years.
The chair car has a wheelchair lift, and the historical society is working to make the railroad museum next door accessible as well.
Yukon’s railroad museum boxcar features a model train display, rail station ticket booth, signage, books, and plenty more to enjoy.
For more information about the Yukon Historical Society or touring the museum, call (405) 514-7896. If nobody answers, leave a message and the call will be returned.