Rim Country's Small Museums Touch The Past

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A visit to the small museums in the Rim country can connect residents and the area's guests to the past.

Payson's two museums for history and archaeology are being complemented this summer by a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution.

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The Payson Public Library joins Rim area museums with exhibits to enjoy this summer. The library has a traveling show from the Smithsonian, while local museums focus on the Rim's past.

The Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition, "Yesterday's Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future" is at the Payson Public Library meeting room now through Aug. 1.

As wondrous as technology has made the world we live in, it falls short of what our ancestors predicted it might be.

"Basically it's what people of the late 1800s, early 1900s predicted life would be like today, and it covers economy, transportation, architecture, and more," Margaret Jesus, assistant library director, said.

Besides providing a vision of the present through the eyes of the past, the exhibition also says a lot about what our predecessors considered important. "Through images of ray guns, robots, nuclear-powered cars, and the Atom Bomb House, ‘Yesterday's Tomorrows' examines how visions of things to come reveal the values and beliefs of the people who created them," according to an exhibit guide for teachers produced by the Utah Heritage Foundation.

For example, a robot created by Westinghouse that is featured in the exhibit sings, dances and even smokes cigarettes.

"Yesterday's Tomorrows" is divided into five, three-sided kiosks. The displays are organized as follows:

•IOSK A

Side 1 -- How Do We See the Future?

Side 2 -- Robots and Automation

Side 3 -- Application of Automation Today

•IOSK B

Side 1 -- What Does the Future Look Like?

Side 2 -- Media and Visions of the Future

Side 3 -- Advertising the Future

•IOSK C

Side 1 -- The Homes of Tomorrow

Side 2 -- The Built Environment

Side 3 -- Making Your House Work for You

• KIOSK D

Side 1 -- The Future of Transportation

Side 2 -- Futuristic Cars

Side 3 -- Better Ways of Getting Around

• KIOSK E

Side 1 -- Communities of the Future

Side 2 -- Worlds of Tomorrow

Side 3 -- Planned Communities of the Future

"Yesterday's Tomorrows" and three other traveling exhibits comprise the Museum on Main Street program and are co-sponsored by the Smithsonian and individual state humanities councils (in this state by the Arizona Humanities Council).

"Their goal was to bring the Smithsonian and its exhibits to rural communities so that people who can't go back to see it in the big museum can enjoy the exhibits," Jesus said. "It is touring 12 Arizona cities over a two-year period."

"Yesterday's Tomorrows" is free to the public, and is open the same hours as the library: Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Rim Country Museum is surrounded by lakes and rolling hills in Green Valley Park at the west end of Main Street. It is a two-story facility that includes the first forest ranger station in Payson and a replica of the historic Herron Hotel, which was destroyed by fire in 1918.

The museum houses public exhibits ranging from the ancient people who once inhabited the area to a working model of an old sawmill. The sawmill model is one of the most popular exhibits at the museum, followed closely by the display of Zane Grey's belongings.

This summer one of the featured exhibits is of quilts.

There is also a large gift shop at the museum with books and many unique souvenirs.

Admission to the Rim Country Museum is $3 for adults, $2.50 for seniors 55 and older, $2 for students 12-17, and free for children 11 and younger. The museum is open from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

The Museum of Rim Country Archaeology, on West Main, next to the Payson Senior Center and Payson Womans Club, houses artifacts primarily from two prehistoric sites -- Risser Ranch Ruins and Q Ranch.

Among the artifacts are ceramics, pottery, beads, arrowheads and stone tools. There are also educational displays about the people who occupied Rim country sites at the time of the Sinagua, Anasazi, Mogollon, Salado and Hohokam.

The MRCA has a special ceremonial room off the main exhibit hall featuring a reconstruction of an underground kiva where sacred rituals would be practiced.

Another exhibit features actual petroglyphs found in the Flowing Springs area.

The MRCA is open from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $2.50 for adults, $2 for seniors, and $1 for students.

The Pine and Strawberry area has its historic attractions too. In Strawberry, down Fossil Creek Road, about 1.5 miles, the historic Strawberry Schoolhouse stands. The restored log schoolhouse is the oldest standing school in Arizona. It was built in 1884 and restored in the 1960s. It is a historic monument and living history museum. The schoolhouse is open to visitors during weekends in the summer, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

The Pine-Strawberry Museum is at the Pine Community Center, which first served the residents through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then as the Pine School. It is located in the center of town, on the left, driving north from Payson. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free to this tribute to the men and women who settled the Pine area. It is also one of the most comprehensive collections of artifacts depicting the day-to-day life in farming, ranching, homemaking and religion.

Opened this year, across from the Pine Community Center is Randall Park, where the original Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library building now stands. The building is not open, but viewing windows have been installed, so visitors can get a look inside to see how early residents were able to send their imaginations traveling the world through books.

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