Rudyard Depot Museum had a successful season
November 19, 2019
This article was prepared for publication by the Rudyard Depot Museum staff and volunteers.
There aren’t 596 people living in Rudyard, nice or not, but this is a village that supports itself with enthusiasm.
Starting from a small donated Habeck home, casually called “The Paper House,” the Rudyard Depot Museum, Dinosaur Hall, and the Rock Building make up a complex that is an ongoing work of pride for the entire community.
The summer season of 2019 was a banner year for guests visiting the complex. Staffed by volunteers, the museum hosted more 1,200 guests from all over the United States and from 24 foreign countries. As one of the most popular stops on the Montana Dinosaur Trail, this collection is kept is excellent viewing shape by the Rudyard Historical Society members and donations received from friends and visitors. Much work has gone into improving and adding to the specialty areas that are part of this complex. There is no charge for admission, and people are encouraged to browse, take pictures and do a bit of family homestead research. The Museum hosts many school and civic field trips each year. More than 30 people on a 4-H exchange trip from Arizona were welcomed this past summer.
Guests can move through the various exhibits that include toys, a restored kitchen, documents and photographs, the Een School, an authentic homestead shack, a fully stocked blacksmith shop, the Dinosaur Hall and the newly opened farm equipment building. On Main Street, the Phillips Rock building houses vintage automobiles and trucks. Many are on loan from generous friends of the Museum.
Jack Horner, retired paleontologist who is credited with founding the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, started digging dinosaur bones north of Rudyard on the Berge-Ulmen farm when he was about 10 years old. He and a crew will be digging and doing field work in the general area next summer. He and professional bone preparers will have a shop set up so that museum guests can watch the progress and process used. Rudyard has been designated as an official field station to showcase the work of the paleontologists.
Open each summer from Memorial Day until Labor Day Monday through Saturday, the Musuem is staffed entirely by volunteers who clean, maintain the grounds and buildings, and greet guests. This is a local endeavor, with no government, state nor county financial support. Direct quest donations, sales of souvenirs and memorial gifts are welcome. Advertising benefits are realized through membership with the Montana Dinosaur Trail and its director, Victor Bjornberg, who coordinates and maintains an online website for all the Trail members.
Lila Ulmen Redding has written several successful grants that helped pay for new buildings and maintenance of the old ones. Rudyard graduates Lenny Schweitzer and Mark Rhodes designed the landscaping around the Habeck House, and innumerable local people planned, built, and continue the upkeep of the buildings. Bob Christensen, current title holder of the “Old Sorehead” and president of the Historical Society, has a never ending task of keeping weeds at bay and the lawns looking lovely.
Kim Seidlitz, owner of the Sugar Shack Diner, sent people to the museum this past summer, and the television spot Triangle Telephone aired featuring Dan and Lila Redding at the Dinosaur Hall helped boost this year’s guest list. Many thanks go to everyone along the Hi-Line who brought friends and family to the museum. And most of all, thanks to those who volunteered in every way to make this season a success.