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  • Writer's pictureHelen Avaient

Visit the pioneer past at the Mohave history museum in Kingman Arizona

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

The history of northwest Arizona has been collated and exhibited in this diverse Kingman museum. Dioramas and artifacts from prehistoric times until present day are both interesting and educational. All items on display have been donated.

Chinle rugs are named after the town, and this style of rug is made throughout the Navajo nation. All the rugs have a flaw that was meant to release the bad spirits. It they did not have a flaw the family who made it would be ostracized from the tribe and the pattern could never be used again.

a navajo handmade rug hangs on a wall in the museum. it is of geometric diamonds, with a grey background and black, white and red woven into its intricate patterns.

Dioramas in the native American Hualapai show a shelter, as well as handmade pottery, wicker baskets and tools. Handcarved turquoise that was mined in the local area is also a beautiful display.

behind three glass wall mounted displays are schenes from the Mohave Epic, early artifacts from as far back as the early native American times. Tools, equipment and pictures fill the cases.

Some displays are collections of many smaller items, including arrowheads. “These 750 artifacts were collected in the 1930s by Polly Larson on the Boquilas Cattle Company Ranch near Seligman Arizona. In the late 1950s she arranged her collection into this tabletop.” – from a sign next to the tabletop.

a round tabletop has been deocrated with over 750 various native American arroheads. They are formed around the outside with the points towards the centre. Inside the circle they are arranged in various geometric patterns with the arrowheads pointing outwards.

A complete collection of American presidents and first ladies hangs in the Hall of Presidents room. It is a nice touch to see the significant others portrayed here as well as their famous husbands. Lawrence Williams painted most of the pictures in the 1970s. One set of his paintings are hung in the Smithsoneon, and another in the State Legislature. The paintings of the Obamas, Trumps and Bidens were painted by a local artist. A timeline underneath the paintings details significant historical events that occurred. This helps to put into context the successes and trials each would have faced.

a wall of paintings of US presidents and their first ladies hang in gilt frames. Each person is in their own picture

Of course, being on Route 66, there is a small display here, with a marvellous collection of old jukeboxes.

a cartoon picture of route 66 is covering one wall. A cardboard cutout of Marilyn Monroe stands in front of it. Two antique jukeboxes stand next to the adjoining wall. A large Phillips 66 shield in orange and black hangs above the juke boxes.

Ranchers in the 1880s raised cattle for soldiers, and there is a wealth of information here about the local ranching as well as mining machinery and replica. A display of brands and ear marks used in the local area before 1895 has been collated.

Hanging on a wall is a display of Brands used before 1895 around Kingman Arizona. Black metal branding irons and the brands used, most of them either noting the family name or the ranch name.
an old piece of mining equipment is on display. On pieces of wood attached to the wall above is a timeline of mining in the Kingman area and details of the events that occurred.

For those interested in geology, there is a display of various local rocks and minerals.

Andy Devine (1905-1977) was an actor and radio personality. He appeared in over 400 movies. Born in Arizona, Andy was raised in Kingman. In 1906, his father bought the Beale Hotel in downtown Kingman. The main street of town has been renamed Andy Devine Avenue in his honour, and the town holds an annual Andy Devine Days festival. Rodeos, street parades, street performances and dinners are held. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were friends of Andy’s and on his suggestion, they married in Kingman in 1939 during a break from the shooting of Gone with The Wind.

Of course, being a railway town, there are several displays of railway memorabilia.

On the wall is a plaque with Arizona State Code of Mine Bells. Next to it is an actual mine bell. On the floor is a chair with a cut out of an old miner and a stove that would have been in a mine hut. Pictures on the wall show living conditions of the miners in the 1800s and 1900s

More diaramas made by talented local residents have been donated and on display. These minatures show great talent and skill. It is lovely that by giving them to the museum, others can admire their skills. This display was made by Ann Hongslo. “Built on a scale of one inch to the foot, it is 36” wide, 25” deep and 36” high with a peaked tin roof. The outside of the building is plastered with ads. Inside there are over 3,000 items, including a main counter and shelves. The shelves contain yardage, food products, toys and goodies galore. A minature glass case with glass top holds tiny cameos of various sizes and a heart-shaped box of candy. On the floor are sacks of flour and potatoes, a pickle barrel, root-beer barrel and ice-cream freezer. A small boy is stealing crackers and giving them to his dog. In the bar is a piano, a checker game and the usual card playing drinking scene (sarsaparilla of course!) Above is a balcony where milady will find dresses, hats, perfumes, hatpins and parasols. On the right of the balcony is a desk where the cashier watches over the money and sends the change down to the clerk in a basket on an arrangement of pulleys, wires and chains. The upstairs are living quarters which open onto a porch complete with lights, American flag, chairs a sign that reads GENERAL MERCANTILE & SALOON JOE AND ANN HONGSLO, PROPS” – from a sign near the display. Reading the sign made me look for all the items mentioned and gave me a greater appreciation of the thought and time that went into this display.

a display of an early mercantile store and saloon has over 3000 items in it. Display cases, goods and wares for sale and little plastic models of people show its crowded and interesting contents.

The 1907 China silk wedding dress of Alice Vernie Crozier has been donated and hangs beside a wedding photo of her wearing the dress. They were married for 61 years until her husband William Franklin Grounds Jr passed away in 1968. Vernie passed seven years later. Many of their descendants still live in the area.

a china silk wedding dress in shades of ebony, complete with veil, slippers and kerchief are displayed on a wall frame. The gold gilt frame has little cupids at various positions around it.
a black and white wedding photo taken in 1907 show an unsmiling bride and groom.  The bride has her arm linked through the crook of her new husbands arm. She is dressed in ebony chinese silk, he is a black suit with white shirt.

Stuffed native animals, pipe organs, old household wares and even the uniform dress of early Chinese railway workers are more items on display in this eclectic museum. It took me around two hours to traverse the displays as I took my time looking at each one. It is definitely worth a visit. Your entry ticket also includes admittance to the Route 66 museum and the Bonelli historic house in town.

Founded in 1961 by the Daughters of the Pioneers, it is now operated by the Mohave Pioneers Historical Society. I think they have done an incredible job and am grateful to have had the opportunity to see all these varied displays in one place. A small giftshop raised funds that help keep the museum running.

400W Beale St

Kingman Arizona USA

Check their website for opening hours. -

map of location of Kingman in USA

Happy Travels!

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