Lake County Fairgrounds’ Historical Village Museum is a vast array of equipment, wagons, and buildings collected from ranches across Lake
County, preserving the ranching, mining, and agricultural past of those who have called Lake County home.
Operated by Ed and Arlene Henry, both members of the Lakeview Historical Society, the outdoor museum also often referred to as the Lake County Outdoor Museum contains a wide assortment of oddities and commodities rescued from scrap heaps and barns from as far as 200 miles away.
Open during the annual Lake County Round Up and available for tours with one phone call, the museum is the culmination of a dream of several intrepid individuals who began the project before Henry came aboard.
“I call this my life sentence,” joked Henry, who maintains and restores the wide variety of items on the property, leaving his phone number at the gate for people to call to get a personal tour at all hours of the day.
From the original idea, Henry inherited the project from the historical society around 2000, in part because of his connections with the fair board and highway department after working for the state for 27 years, including a stint as sheriff.
After multiple proposed locations a space on the Lake County Fairgrounds was finally approved, and following landfill material provided thanks to the construction of the nearby prison, the dream of a museum representing Lakeview’s homestead and ranching past was nearing realization. Fencing was built through fundraising by the Lions Club and historical society, and the museum officially opened in the fall of 2001.
Thousands of hours have been spent digging through old barns and fields to compile an impressive collection of rural Americana, which includes wagons, farm equipment, mining gear, cabins and barns transported to the fairgrounds for preservation. The property also acts as a functional workshop for Henry, utilizing a blacksmith shop and other items to restore antiques or construct new materials for the museum, including a working windmill he built last year.
Items in the collection go as far back as the 1860s, including antique two-horse carts, saws, hay bailers, boilers, saddles, and even an antique outhouse. Among the more unique items in the collection is a millstone from England and a bell from a local school long since torn down. Some of the items in the collection are massive in scale, creating a major logistics dilemma to transport.
“The log cabin was a 200 mile roundtrip to bring it to the museum,” said Henry.
The extensive work and care that the Henry’s have put into restoring and maintaining the property along with the assistance of a few adventurous friends and members of the historical society showcases both their expert craftsmanship and care for saving the community’s past. Some of the buildings Henry has taken apart piece-by-piece, transported, and reassembled at the museum.
Many of the wagons in the collection are kept in storage until weather improves, moved to the museum grounds by June 1 and returned to hibernate for the winter by October.
The museum is located at 1900 N. 4th St. in Lakeview. A video tour of the museum is available at www.lakecountyexam.com. For more information or to arrange a tour, contact Ed Henry at 541-947-5026.