In this week’s edition of “5 Questions With…” we interviewed Rock Springs Historical Museum Coordinator, Jennifer Messer. We asked Messer about her work at the museum, a little known fact about Rock Springs, and whether or not the museum is really haunted!
Being new to the Rock Springs Historical Museum, what interested you in the position of Museum Coordinator?
I could see so much potential in the museum. Everything, from the building itself, to the tiniest items in the displays, tells part of the story of Rock Springs. All together, there is so much fascinating history here that visitors can enjoy learning about, and I wanted to be part of that experience! I have so many ideas for displays, ways to draw in visitors, collect and preserve our history for future generations, and engage kids so that they want to learn more about where they live. The hardest part of every day is deciding on what my focus should be!
What’s the best part about working at the museum?
I love hearing stories from visitors! My favorite part of the day is when people come in and recognize an item they had growing up, or see people they know in a photo and get excited about it. I grew up hearing stories from my parents and grandparents about what this area was like, and I’ve always felt a very strong connection to our local history because of it. I like to see that happen with visitors when our displays spark interaction between grandparents, parents and kids about their shared history. People talking, laughing and reminiscing makes this job worthwhile!
What’s your favorite display at the museum?
My favorite display is always the one I’m getting ready to put together next! The completed work is always gratifying, but I love the process of putting together a new case. Once that spark of an idea hits I can’t wait to start the research, gathering the artifacts, fabricating and arranging all the parts, and then pulling it all together for the finish. Right now I’m getting ready to start on a huge rail road display to open mid-May. We will be celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Rail Road making it’s way through Southwest Wyoming, and all the rail road artifacts the museum has will be out on display, including tons of model trains. I can’t wait to get started!
Is there a little known, but fascinating, fact about Rock Springs that people don’t know, but probably should?
There are some amazingly talented people who have called Rock Springs home. The first woman in Wyoming to receive a patent from the US Government lived here, Myrtle M. Wallin (she created a fabric holder to help with mending in 1900). People from Rock Springs hold patents on fountain pens, panoramic attachments for cameras, rail joints, grain doors on train cars, basket designs, neck ties, tent fasteners, egg incubators, trap doors for fish baskets, surgical devices, and dozens of tools and techniques for coal and trona mining. It’s kind of crazy to think that our small community has so many talented inventors in it. I think it’s safe to say we will see an exhibit on Rock Springs residents and their patents in the near future!
Here’s a fun question for you: Is the museum haunted? (We’ve always wanted to know!)
We have visitors that swear, yes, there are spirits here at the Museum, and those that say absolutely not, that’s just nonsense! Janice Brown (the museum’s technician) and I, love to hear what visitors think about this place being haunted! No matter which side of the fence people fall on, I’d love to have you stop by the museum, have a look around, try and snap some ghost photos, and let us know what your feelings on the subject are!