Big Piney, Wyoming
Green River Valley Museum

General Information

The Green River Valley Museum was formed to perpetuate and

preserve the history and culture of the Green River Valley.  Its

goal is to honor the many hard working families who have

built a unique community. 

The Green River Valley Museum is a nonprofit corporation, and although it receives some support from county funds, it is largely dependent on donations from private sources and on the fundraisers.  All contributions, large and small, are welcome. Open:  June through mid-October Tuesday through Saturday   11:00 AM to 5:00 PM Admission is by donation. Location:  Green River Valley Museum 206 N. Front St PO Box 12 Big Piney, Wyoming 83113 For special tours, call the Museum at 307-276-5343 History of the Green River Valley Museum   The Green River Valley Museum was begun in 1990 with the support and impetus of the Centennial Committe under the direction of Maicille Carr.  She wrote the first grant obtained from the Wyoming Council of the Humanities and directed the first project which was on early brands of the area.  Dele Ball was instrumental in providing inspiration, as was Dick Tanner, the first president.  The Town of Big Piney provided the building and the Chrisman family donated two additional lots in 1993.  The Green River Valley Museum is a nonprofit corporation, and although it receives some support from county funds, it is largely dependent on donations from private sources and on the fundraisers.  All contributions, large and small, are welcome. The first board of directors consisted of Dick Tanner, Bette Thompson, Marjorie Guio, Barbara McKinley, Jay Fear, George Nichols and Nancy Espenscheid.  Marjorie and Barbara continue on the board today. The building itself has an interesting history.  It belonged to the Town of Big Piney and at various times has served as a town hall, fire station and jail, then later as a storage facility.  The original structure burned in 1948, leaving the charred metal jail cell exposed to the elements.  Having nowhere else to hold prisoners, law enforcement officers continued to use the cell to hold them until they could be moved to a more suitable location.  When the building was rebuilt, it was constructed around the jail cell.  The jail cell today is one of the museum's most popular attractions. The following article by Nancy Espenscheid is reprinted from "The Sublette County Journal," March 13, 1998:    I really don't know whose idea it was to have a museum in Big Piney.  I think it was either Maicille Carr's or Barbara McKinley's, probably a spin off of the momentum Maicille had going from all of the Wyoming Cenennial activities  (she was affectionately nicknamed Ms. Centennial).  I do remember that it was Barbara who called me to ask if I would be on the board to get one going.  Although I knew full well I didn't have much time to give to such a project, I was so in favor of the idea that I said yes.  Thus, I had the privilege of witnessing and to a small degree participating in the beginning of the Green River Valley Museum.    I soon found myself on a road trip to Kemmerer with Dick Tanner, Marj Guio, Bette Thompson, and Barbara McKinley to see the Kemmerer Museum and to talk to the people running it.  None of us really knew where to start.  We weren't really starting with anything-no building, no collection of artifacts, and certainly no money.  We had lots of ideas though, which we tossed back and forth amid lots of laughter and story-telling on our trip to and from Kemmerer.  The people we talked to gave us a lot of good advice and gave us some sobering warnings.  The ideas we had on the way home from Kemmerer were more realistic than the ones we had on the way down.    Initially, we were given some focus by a small Wyoming Humanities Grant which Maicille, Jonita Sommers, and Ann Noble had obtained.  The grant was for a project which would research and record the histories of the early brands of Sublette County, and the Museum became the avenue through which the results of the project would be displayed and presented to the public.    By the word "Museum" we were still a long way from talking about a place.  Our first exhibit, which was in fact the Brands Exhibit, took place in the High School Annex.  Our next took place in the back of the Town Hall.  We spent a lot of time hauling things around!    When I think of what has happened to the Green River Valley Museum since then, it warms my heart!  There has been a virtual army of volunteers involved in the progression of the Museum.  I could not even begin to give an appropriate amount of credit to all of the people who have worked on Museum projects at one time or another.  My recollections of Marj Guio, Barbara McKinley and Bette Thompson scrubbing and painting provide me with an image which has typified the kind of people who put the very heart of the museum in its place.  That image is a personification of the energy and determination that has gone into the museum's development.    The idea behind the Green River Valley Museum was not conceived to draw tourists or boost the economy.  There have been no major wealthy benefactors to support it.  Instead, it is simply a wonderful example of the efforts of a community which wanted to articulate and preserve its history    If all else fails, a community can hold itself together by its shared experiences and shared collective memories.  It is by the accumulation of stories of these things that we know and trust each other.  Wendall Berry expresses this so well in his essay, The Work of Local Culture:  "A human community must collect its stories and turn them into account.  It must build that memory of itself - in lore and story and song - which will be its culture."    The Green River Valley Museum has been instrumental in helping us define and honor our culture.
Burnham Building at the Green River Valley Museum
© 2017 Green River Valley Museum, 206 Front Street, PO Box 12, Big Piney, Wyoming 83113                                                              Founded 1990
Home General Information Projects & Exhibits Events Photo Gallery Membership Contact
Preserving the history and culture of the Green River Valley
Heavy equipment at the Green River Valley Museum The Old Big Piney Jail at the Green River Valley Museum Chuckwagon and Sheepwagon at the Green River Valley Museum Inside the back building at the Green River Valley Museum Elaine's Coffee Shop, Big Piney Big Piney Examiner newspaper presses
Big Piney, Wyoming
Green River Valley Museum

General Information

The Green River Valley Museum

was formed to perpetuate and

preserve the history and culture of

the Green River Valley.  Its goal is

to honor the many hard working

families who have built a unique

community. 

The Green River Valley Museum is a nonprofit corporation, and although it receives some support from county funds, it is largely dependent on donations from private sources and on the fundraisers.  All contributions, large and small, are welcome. Open:  June through mid-October Tuesday through Saturday   11:00 AM to 5:00 PM Admission is by donation. Location:  Green River Valley Museum 206 N. Front St PO Box 12 Big Piney, Wyoming 83113 For special tours, call the Museum at 307-276-5343 History of the Green River Valley Museum   The Green River Valley Museum was begun in 1990 with the support and impetus of the Centennial Committe under the direction of Maicille Carr.  She wrote the first grant obtained from the Wyoming Council of the Humanities and directed the first project which was on early brands of the area.  Dele Ball was instrumental in providing inspiration, as was Dick Tanner, the first president.  The Town of Big Piney provided the building and the Chrisman family donated two additional lots in 1993.  The Green River Valley Museum is a nonprofit corporation, and although it receives some support from county funds, it is largely dependent on donations from private sources and on the fundraisers.  All contributions, large and small, are welcome. The first board of directors consisted of Dick Tanner, Bette Thompson, Marjorie Guio, Barbara McKinley, Jay Fear, George Nichols and Nancy Espenscheid.  Marjorie and Barbara continue on the board today. The building itself has an interesting history.  It belonged to the Town of Big Piney and at various times has served as a town hall, fire station and jail, then later as a storage facility.  The original structure burned in 1948, leaving the charred metal jail cell exposed to the elements.  Having nowhere else to hold prisoners, law enforcement officers continued to use the cell to hold them until they could be moved to a more suitable location.  When the building was rebuilt, it was constructed around the jail cell.  The jail cell today is one of the museum's most popular attractions. The following article by Nancy Espenscheid is reprinted from "The Sublette County Journal," March 13, 1998:    I really don't know whose idea it was to have a museum in Big Piney.  I think it was either Maicille Carr's or Barbara McKinley's, probably a spin off of the momentum Maicille had going from all of the Wyoming Cenennial activities  (she was affectionately nicknamed Ms. Centennial).  I do remember that it was Barbara who called me to ask if I would be on the board to get one going.  Although I knew full well I didn't have much time to give to such a project, I was so in favor of the idea that I said yes.  Thus, I had the privilege of witnessing and to a small degree participating in the beginning of the Green River Valley Museum.    I soon found myself on a road trip to Kemmerer with Dick Tanner, Marj Guio, Bette Thompson, and Barbara McKinley to see the Kemmerer Museum and to talk to the people running it.  None of us really knew where to start.  We weren't really starting with anything-no building, no collection of artifacts, and certainly no money.  We had lots of ideas though, which we tossed back and forth amid lots of laughter and story-telling on our trip to and from Kemmerer.  The people we talked to gave us a lot of good advice and gave us some sobering warnings.  The ideas we had on the way home from Kemmerer were more realistic than the ones we had on the way down.    Initially, we were given some focus by a small Wyoming Humanities Grant which Maicille, Jonita Sommers, and Ann Noble had obtained.  The grant was for a project which would research and record the histories of the early brands of Sublette County, and the Museum became the avenue through which the results of the project would be displayed and presented to the public.    By the word "Museum" we were still a long way from talking about a place.  Our first exhibit, which was in fact the Brands Exhibit, took place in the High School Annex.  Our next took place in the back of the Town Hall.  We spent a lot of time hauling things around!    When I think of what has happened to the Green River Valley Museum since then, it warms my heart!  There has been a virtual army of volunteers involved in the progression of the Museum.  I could not even begin to give an appropriate amount of credit to all of the people who have worked on Museum projects at one time or another.  My recollections of Marj Guio, Barbara McKinley and Bette Thompson scrubbing and painting provide me with an image which has typified the kind of people who put the very heart of the museum in its place.  That image is a personification of the energy and determination that has gone into the museum's development.    The idea behind the Green River Valley Museum was not conceived to draw tourists or boost the economy.  There have been no major wealthy benefactors to support it.  Instead, it is simply a wonderful example of the efforts of a community which wanted to articulate and preserve its history    If all else fails, a community can hold itself together by its shared experiences and shared collective memories.  It is by the accumulation of stories of these things that we know and trust each other.  Wendall Berry expresses this so well in his essay, The Work of Local Culture:  "A human community must collect its stories and turn them into account.  It must build that memory of itself - in lore and story and song - which will be its culture."    The Green River Valley Museum has been instrumental in helping us define and honor our culture.
Burnham Building at the Green River Valley Museum Home General Information Projects & Exhibits Events Photo Gallery Membership Contact
Preserving the history and culture of the Green River Valley
Heavy equipment at the Green River Valley Museum The Old Big Piney Jail at the Green River Valley Museum Chuckwagon and Sheepwagon at the Green River Valley Museum Inside the back building at the Green River Valley Museum Elaine's Coffee Shop, Big Piney Big Piney Examiner newspaper presses
© 2017 Green River Valley Museum, 206 Front Street, Big Piney, Wyoming PO Box 12, Big Piney, WY  82113                                      Founded 1990