Ronald Cefalo is in his element as the curator of the Box Elder Museum of Natural History, located at 641 E. 200 N. in Brigham City in Bunderson Elementary School.
The retired college professor of sciences spends his time in the spring and fall going to schools and promoting the collection of specimens housed in an old elementary school.
Current displays include a variety of fossils and minerals from Box Elder County and the world. The Brigham City museum boasts the best display of trilobites in the western U.S. The museum has 176 trilobites and the collection is expanding
“Originally, Lloyd Gunther, an avid rock collector, had a display in the middle of town in the old Kings variety store,” Cefalo said. “He donated his collection to us, with the understanding we would build a little museum to house his original collection.”
They secured a place in the old Bunderson Elementary School, where the city recreation office is located. Gunderson’s collection was put in one of the classrooms, it took half of the area back in 2009. Then something magical happened, it grew. They went from a half classroom to six classrooms with displays down the hall.
Inside those classrooms are minerals, fossils of bugs, trilobites and fish. There is also a room dedicated to mines in Box Elder County. And the florescent mineral display is a big draw.
The mining display has artifacts, ore samples, mining cars and other relics from old mines in Box Elder County.
“Initially, Gunther’s donation was 95 percent of our collection. Now, it is about one percent of the collection,” Cefalo said. “We have a lot of classes from the area visit us and we cater to scouts and merit badges.”
Box Elder High School has a chemistry class that enjoys Chemistry Night at the museum. They come and find elements on the periodic chart in the raw form.
As far the curator knows, it is the only one like it in the state.
“We had a gentleman donate some new minerals to our collection. We have the original assays back in the 1920’s, 30s and 40’s from the tintic district. The specimens are 80 to 100 years old,” Cefalo said. “We also have fossils from the Green River area.”
He said a gentleman from the Denver Museum of Natural History looked over the collection and told them there is not another museum like this west of the Mississippi.
The museum also has geodes from Brazil, ripple stones from the San Rafael Swell and dinosaur footprints.
Other fossils on display document the history of the world for millions of years, and include dinosaurs, ancient horses and sharks, plants, and insects.
Cefelo said they are a no charge museum and they still accept museum quality specimens, like petrified wood, to fossils; they will take anything. The museum is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. They are also open Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.