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Heritage Museum to open June 2

| June 4, 2007 12:00 AM

By ERIKA KIRSCH Western News Editor

It will be a fun-filled day at the 29th Opening Day Celebration at the Heritage Museum in Libby. The Heritage Museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting on Saturday, June 2. Come and explore Libby's history and see what made it the place that it is today. The museum is home to various machines, documents and artifacts that were part of Libby's social and economic past. The mining machinery and the rock crusher will be running.

The season will continue through Nordicfest on Sept. 9. Museum hours are: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is by donation. The museum was opened in 1976 and was built almost entirely by volunteer efforts, according to museum board member Mike Powers. Powers has been on the museum board for 27 years.The building is a 12-sided log structure and all materials and labor were donated, Powers said. Although, the job of joining the logs was contracted out, he said. Kyle and Eva Beebe, who were 81 years old at the time, peeled all the logs used in the construction of the museum, Powers said. A room in the museum was dedicated to the Beebe's. The Beebe Room is a performance area where music is frequently performed throughout the summer months, Powers said. Three stories high and 130-feet across, the Heritage Museum has an art gallery on the second floor. There is also a gift shop in the museum.

On the museum property there is also the Swamp Creek Community Hall, built in 1932, and the Libby Feed Store, which is currently 100 yards from its original location, Powers said. Both the community hall and the feed store are currently being refurbished and volunteers would eventually like to have those buildings open to the public, Powers said. During the opening day celebration, there will be demonstrations of drag saws, as well as old chain saws. The Hyster lumber carrier, restored in 2003, will be on display in the yard, according to a press release. Rides through the grounds on the Model T will also be available. Other vehicles will include the "Big Boomer," a giant oilfield engine, and several other antique engines form Kalispell. The Kootenai Muzzleloaders will set up camp and show their crafts and skills. At 10 a.m. Jim Mee and Bob Malyevac will give a presentation on David Thompson and the fur trade in the Beebe Room. They will be showing items of the fur trade from the educational trunk provided by the U.S. Forest Service. Be sure to bring the family outside at 11 a.m. to see the Montana National Guard helicopter land on the grounds. The pilot and crew will make a short presentation and answer any questions. The helicopter will remain on the grounds on static display until 3 p.m. Live music is being scheduled for the afternoon by the Pasture Pickers, Powers said.The museum's opening day will be a special event for the Lincoln County Amateur Radio Group, which will be contacting "ham" operators around the world from the museum grounds. Bill Cunnane, who will be the main radio operator, has held radio conversations with other hams in more than 100 countries. This month, he e-mailed more than 1,000 clubs and other organizations with news about the event and information about Libby and the museum. He expects many of their members to participate. Each ham contacted on opening day will be mailed a "QSL" card with a likeness of the museum. The local hams will also be accepting "Radiograms" to be transmitted via voice and Morse code networks to recipients nationwide and in most countries of the world. Messages can be sent to American servicemen and women, but military regulations prohibit their going to those in combat zones. Bring the mailing address and phone number of the person to contact.The museum has several items of interest for history buffs. There are several pieces of mining equipment available for viewing and one of the prized possessions of the museum is the "wonderful locomotive," Powers said. The 1906 Shay locomotive, built in Lima, Ohio has been in Lincoln County since 1909, Powers said. "The locomotive is a gem," Powers said. "It's really great to have that."The Heritage Museum also has a locomotive shed from the J. Neils Lumber Company and the volunteers are slowly working on refurbishing the locomotive and the shed, Powers said. "We want to restore her so bad," Powers said of the locomotive. "We want to have a fundraiser and send her off to school to get all cleaned up."In addition to the locomotive and the shed, the museum board also owns several other items of note. The second printing press to come to Montana is in possesion of the museum, Powers said. Fred Herrig, who was a Libby native, was the first ranger for the Forest Service, Powers said. The museum has Herrig's uniform and badge on display at the museum. Artwork by the Libby Fine Arts Group will be on display in the Tower Gallery through the month of June. Plan to visit each month to see the changing exhibits in the gallery. Quilts will be on display by the Kootenai Valley Quilters in July and photography will be the featured avenue of art in August. While at the museum, pick up an entry form for the Heritage Museum's Second Annual Chili Cook-Off scheduled for Saturday, July 28. There will be cash prizes plus a special People's Choice Award.Great burgers, hot dogs, pies and other treats will be available in the old Sylvanite Ranger Station cookhouse. Just outside the cookhouse is the Heritage Garden, a vegetable garden planted and tended by volunteers. Last year, much of the produce from this garden was donated to the Libby Food Pantry. The museum has no paid staff and, other than an occasional grant, receives no funding from local, state or federal sources. There are seven members serving on the Heritage Museum board. Approximately 40-50 people volunteer their time to make the museum possible for the public's viewing.The Heritage Museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.