There is a dynamic duo at work in Tremonton, tag teaming to keep history alive in that part of Box Elder County.
President of the museum, Karen Stokes, and Roberta Fronk, a board member, get together once or twice a week and gather all of the aluminum cans they can find to support the Bear River Valley Museum.
“People give us bags of cans and we have places around town that save their cans for us to pick up,” Stokes said. “We take them to the Nelson Recycling and turn them in for money.”
With a pickup truck load of cans, they bring in $20 to $25 a week depending on the going price. That’s $100 a month they can use for buying paper towels, toilet paper and other incidentals the museum needs.
The two ladies, and maybe more members of the museum board, have begged, borrowed and finessed the museum into existence.
At one time the Bear River Valley Museum (BRVM) was on the main floor of the old McKinley School. An earthquake caused the building to be condemned. They had to move everything.
The old JCPenny building located at 11 E. Main St in Tremonton was vacant and, somehow, Stokes pictured the space as just right for a museum. In 2011 they made the move.
The owners wanted $150,000 for the building, so the board went to work to raise the needed funds.
“Goring’s had a shooting range and we would bring food out and feed people. We could get about $15 a head,” she said. “They loved us dragging their dinner out to them.”
They also held a lecture series.
“For the lecture series we had Roberta Fronk’s daughter, Camille, a BYU professor of religion offer to come up and do a lecture. Rod Zundel, a sportscaster at KSL-TV, came up for a lecture,” Stokes said. “We had quite a few others. We charged $5 a person; all of the proceeds went to the museum.”
They’ve received money from the high school Honor Society. And they constantly have quilts in progress on quilting frames. They sell the quilts when they’re finished, and that brings a little money.
“We even went around asking for money; we visited businesses and sent for grants. We just do what we can to keep it going.”
The museum gets a little money from the Brady Foundation. The Brady Foundation was set up by the Rodney H. Brady family. Brady’s wife, Carolyn “Mitzi” Hansen, was from the Tremonton area and they’ve donated annually for years.
Brady was known for being president of Weber State University from 1978 until 1985. He went on to become the President of Bonneville International, and worked as the Assistant Secretary to U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare in Washington, D.C.
“When Rhonda Menlove was in the Utah State Legislature, she was a good one, she got some money for us,” she said. “Our board now owns the museum building. The city pays the water bill, we have some donations and we get a little money from the playhouse upstairs.”
When they got the building paid for, the work had just began. A bunch of ladies on the board and their friends renovated the building.
The carpet needed to be torn out. So a group of scouts ripped up the carpet, then tiles had to come up. Stokes said she had to crawl on her hands and knees to pull up all of the carpet nails. Then they refinished the floors.
They worked 12 hour days and took what volunteer help they could get. They even had kids from youth services come and help.
“No one liked to see me coming, I was either trying to beg for money or help,” Stokes said.
The Bear River Valley Museum honors residents from the valley who have passed away. They want the citizens to remember their contributions to the community.
Among the museum’s displays are Box Elder County heroes, like the candy bomber Colonel Gail Seymour “Hal” Halvorsen, a retired officer and command pilot in the United States Air Force. He was best known as the “Berlin Candy Bomber” or “Uncle Wiggly Wings.”
Halverson gained fame for dropping candy to German children during the Berlin airlift from 1948 to 1949.
There is also a display on the Borgstrom brothers. The four American siblings were killed over a six-month period during World War II. They were the sons of Alben and Gunda Borgstrom of Thatcher.
“This is my passion. When people see me, they ask about the museum, they don’t care about me,” Stokes said. “I love it over there. Most of the people that come over, they love it, too.”