Grant County Historical Museum
101 S. Canyon City Blvd.
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A partial list of our exhibits
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Open May 1
Tuesday through Saturday
Blue Star Military Families – free
Seniors (62 and up) and Veterans $3.50
Adults (17 – 61) $4.00
Young Folks (7 – 16) $2.00
Under 7 – Free
The museum collection began when Charley Brown was approached by someone wanting Charley to buy his saddle because he was short of money. Charley paid the man for the saddle and he said that within weeks, everyone in town was cleaning our their attics and bringing him their “old relics”. His little gas station on Washington St. soon looked like an overflowing antiques store! He was paying more money for “relics” than he was taking in for gasoline. Later he sold the collection to the Grant County Historical Society. But with no building, the collection was packed into the basement of the county courthouse. In 1953, well-known rancher, Herman Oliver offered to pay for a building to house the “old relics” and the museum was born! Since then, Grant County citizens have been very generous in donating their “old relics” to fill out the collection!
Canyon City, the home of the museum was founded on the chance discovery of GOLD as men from Portland and prospectors from California headed to a new strike in Idaho. Mr. William Allred stopped for the night and decided to do some panning in Canyon Creek. Using his long-johns, he panned out about $20 in gold nuggets and the rush was on! Within weeks the little canyon was alive with miners! A tent city sprang up rapidly and before much longer, freight wagons were arriving weekly from The Dalles, bringing in needed supplies. The community grew as more people streamed into the area, including some Chinese who came to make their fortunes. The town had it's first devastating fire in 1878, followed by another in 1890. The third fire erupted in 1937. But each time, Canyon City was born again and thrived. The gold rush was pretty much over by 1870 but former prospectors had moved on to other careers as merchants, lawyers, farmers and ranchers.
The museum has a large main room: collections of rocks, guns, men's items, medical items, a 1906 Orient Buckboard car, Sheriff, Cy Bingham, FC Sels Brewery items, items from old downtown Canyon City, and the CCC camp of the 1930's. There is also mining equipment from the gold rush days, a display of items from Canyon City's first school and even some toys with which children used to play. We have a large collection of guns and relics from the first two hangings in Canyon City, including the skulls of William Cain and Barry Way. We have a nice collection of vintage clothing, musical instruments from the Canyon City Brass Bands and other items from the finer side of life. Not to be forgotten is the 1889 Grafonola which fills the building with delightful music with the turn of a handle! There are displays of domestic items from pots and pans to laundry items and sewing machines. There is a room set aside for ranching and logging relics, animal traps and farm tools and saddles. And don't forget the Two-headed calf! The Native American room has a nice mural of petroglyphs and a large collection of arrow points. Outdoors, there is a display of mining equipment and the cabin of Joaquin Miller, Poet of the Sierra's and the jail “jail-napped” from the ghost town of Greenhorn. We try to cover the history of all of Grant County!
Just steps away from the museum is the delightful Canyon City Park bordered by two large murals. One shows a mining scene of Canyon City in the past and the Elkhorn Hotel which stood where the park now sits. On another wall is a scene for a 4th of July Parade coming down Washington St. painted from an original photograph. Local people dressed as past citizens line up along the street to watch the parade and celebrate the independence of America, circa 1910.