Visit the pioneer past at the Mohave history museum in Kingman Arizona
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.
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.
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 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.
Of course, being on Route 66, there is a small display here, with a marvellous collection of old jukeboxes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. - www.mohavemuseum.org