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Kest Porter, left, and John Banks ready the Greenville Cy Hall Museum for this year’s opening Saturday, May 5. The 2018 exhibit expands on the history of logging in Indian Valley and Genesee. Photo by Maggie Wells

Greenville Museum focuses on logging for 2018 season

Walking into the Greenville Cy Hall Museum six weeks before opening for the season on a spring day has an air of excitement. The major exhibit is in the beginning stages of execution with the boards in the middle of the museum pinned with printouts of photos and outlines of where artifacts will go to explain the history of logging—from 1870 to present — in Indian Valley and Genesee.

Indian Valley and Genesee boasted anywhere from 30 to 40 mills with both micro three-men operations to bigger commercial ventures. At any given time in the heyday of the logging industry, there were about a dozen operating. Today, there are mostly portable mills and David Schramel’s mill in Taylorsville.

Museum volunteer Kest Porter points to a photo from  the 1870s, when every log felled was done by hand. He points to a recent photo, showing loggers using cranes and other machinery.

Much has changed over the years. Museum volunteer John Banks agrees, but adds that a logger is a logger all of his life.

It’s a lifestyle all its own. “It takes a special breed of people to enjoy the sound of the log hitting the ground,” said Banks.

The exhibit is curated primarily by Heidi Marsh and Travis Rubke.

As with previous exhibits, Porter stresses that the museum encourages interaction between the museum exhibits and the patrons of the museum. There’s a big sign on the side of one photo panel that reads “Please help us correct errors and identify people in photographs.”

Sometimes the museum gets more than one version of incidents that have taken place in the valley. They aim to present all sides in historic disputes or events and encourage locals to lend their stories passed around in their families regarding local history.

They’re hoping the logging exhibit will bring in more stories and more identification in photographs, too.

In addition to the new exhibit, there will be two talks given by Lee Dumell: Thursday, May 10, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., on Black Bart (with Dumell dressed as Black Bart), and Thursday, July 12, on women stage coach drivers, also from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

On Sept. 29, the museum will host its annual cemetery event, and close for the season Oct 6. More events might take place as volunteers and time allow.

“We want to see younger volunteers — especially students,” said Porter. It’s a familiar story in Indian Valley: an aging organization cannot take on all the work by itself. They’re hoping the three-day-a-week volunteer positions and possibility of docents coming in for shorter stretches might bring in more interest in volunteering.

The museum plans to do another aspect of life in the valley each season. Museum-goers in the coming years will see exhibits on local mining, agricultural history and other aspects of life here.

The logging exhibit and the museum open Saturday, May 5, and will run through Saturday, Oct. 6, when the season will close for 2018. In between, the volunteers are planning plenty of activities and new hours.

The downtown Main Street museum will be open Friday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A special memorial event will take place on Sunday, May 6. Jan Hall Thomas, Museum board member and driver of the Greenville Cy Hall Museum — which bares her father’s name — died in January. Thomas, an integral part of the museum getting off the ground, will be celebrated during an “open house-like” event starting at 1 p.m. in the museum. Thomas split her time between her home in Greenville and her home in San Diego. Thomas family members from southern California will be coming to the museum to help celebrate her life and work with the museum with the community on that day.

One thought on “Greenville Museum focuses on logging for 2018 season

  • I’d love to come see the exhibit. My family the Fords settled in Indian Valley in 1852. My grandfather worked at the Red River Logging co in the 1930’s..

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