Wray Museum in Archaeology
As you enter the door of the Wray Museum, a life-sized model of a Bison Antiquus greets you. Crafted by Lance Bohall, this sculpture gives the viewer a real sense of the size of the Bison hunted by the Paleo Indians 10,000 years ago. In 1972 Robert Jones was digging an irrigation system south of Laird, CO, when he began to uncover bones-thousands of bones. The site was excavated from 1973 to 1975 by the Smithsonian Institute lead by Dr. Dennis Standford with funding from the National Geographic Society. Excavators found 41,000 bison bones, 248 stone artifacts, thousands of small animal bones and land snails. Part of the actual bone bed from the Jones Miller site and artifacts from other archaeology sites in Yuma County are on display at the Wray Museum.
Riddles From the Past, Resources for the Future is an exhibit that highlights Colorado Archaeology. Assembled by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, this pictorial review includes the development of Mesa Verde, Chimney Rock, the Granby site, and other Colorado sites.
The Wray Archaeology Club spent six months with over 600 hours of volunteer time to clean, catalog, and display the 800+ stone artifacts at the museum. The Wray Museum Arrowhead Display contains Archaic, Paleo, and Woodland points, scrapers, and knives.
The Beecher Island Room has been recently remodeled with help from the Beecher Island Association, Kitzmiller-Bales Trust and the Gerber Trust, and the East Yuma County Historical Society. The room is devoted to the Battle of Beecher Island and the Beecher Island Memorial Association Annual Reunion.
The Battle of Beecher Island took place on September 17, 1868 and lasted for nine days. Twenty years after the historical battle, two of the surviving scouts returned to the battle site and with the help of local community members erected a monument. In 1899 a reunion was held to commemorate the battle and has been held every year since.
The 1863 Mountain Howitzer Cannon is one of the two cannons that were originally donated to the Beecher Island Memorial Association by the United States Arsenal at Rock Island, Illinois in October 1916. They were secured through the efforts of Congressman Tumberlake at the last session of Congress in 1916. Congressman Tumberlake had attended the 1915 reunion of the Battle of Beecher Island and had acquired a lively interest in the historic spot. Although the Mountain Howitzer Cannon was not used in the Battle of Beecher Island, it was used in the Civil War and afterwards on the Western Plains. Today, there are very few of these cannons that still exist. The cannon is mounted on a replica carriage, in order for a better understanding of its historical use.
An incredible detailed painting, entitled Forsythe's Fight on the Arickaree, features Captain Allison Pliley, one of the army scouts involved in the Beecher Island Battle. Mrs. Patricia M. Lorenz, granddaughter of Captain Allison J. Pliley, commissioned it in 1966. She had long desired to commemorate the participation of her grandfather in the literal taming of the West. Two years before the centennial anniversary of the battle, Irene Selonke created a remarkable and vivid mural of the battle. Irene Selonke is an artist of note. Her work has been exhibited at the Lever House, New York, the Merrill Chase Galleries in Chicago and the Garden of the Gods Gallery in Colorado Springs. She has been recognized as one of the "Women Artists of the West" and is listed in the "Who's Who in American Artists, 1971" and "World Who's Who of Women". We are fortunate that one of her paintings has found a permanent home at the Wray Museum.
The Beecher Island Room also features a diorama of the battle created by local artist Scott Chartier. This detailed portrayal of the battle took 3 years to research and complete. Also on display are memorabilia and photographs from the annual reunion.
The Trophy Room
A favorite of Wray’s school children is the Trophy Room. Dale Whomble, an area resident, hunted and fished around the world during the winter months when he was not farming. He accumulated many wonderful trophies, which he displayed in his home. After his passing, his children donated his collection to the Wray Museum. In this room you will see bears, a wolf, leopard, cheetah, lions, eland, gazelle, many other animals, and fish.
This room also contains a mounted Migratory and Occupant Bird Collection from Barr Lake, which came from the original Beecher Island Museum. The birds were mounted and researched by L. Ray Hersey who was an avid naturalist in the 1910s and 20s.
Shady Rest Country Store
The Shady Rest Country Store Collection was donated to the Museum by Edwin “Bud” and Virginia Loeffler who started collecting old store items when they were first married in 1951. Over the years they accumulated a wonderful, large assortment of items.
Virginia was born in Armel to James and Myrtle Donaldson. In 1928 her parents built the Shady Rest Camp and Store in Wray and ran it until 1937. Bud traveled the northern states and parts of Canada for CF & I and brought home many treasures from his route. This country store has something for everyone and offers a peek into the stores of the past.
William B. Coston Photography Exhibit
William B. Coston came to Wray with his father at the age of 15 in 1886. He learned the art of photography while helping Mr. Marsh in his photograph studio in Greeley, CO. He became Wray’s first photographer in 1900 when he opened his studio in a small shed next to his home. The William B. Coston Photography Exhibit features over 70 photos of early day Wray and the surrounding area. Included in the photography display are Mr. Coston’s cameras, a replica studio and a beautiful 1861 Steinway Square Baby Grand Piano in rosewood finish that has a unique story of its own.
Rotating Exhibit Gallery of the Wray Museum
Current displays in the exhibit focus on World War II and the 1940s. Coming just two decades after the last great global conflict, the Second World War was the most widespread and deadliest war in history, covering six years from 1939 to 1945, and involving more than 30 countries and resulting in more than 50 million military and civilian deaths. The United States officially entered the war following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Four days later Hitler declared war on the United States causing the US to fight on two fronts. Following the War the United States had shaken free of the depression, and led the world technologically at the cost of 405,399 American soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen. We will never forget them, or their service to this country. On display are several local service men and women’s uniforms from World War II.
John Russell Edmunds (Pete) designed and manufactured an antenna-lifting kite for the United States Navy. The seven-foot, cotton kite was sewn by a group of seven to eight ladies on the second floor of the Pickett building in Wray, Colorado. Lela (Edmunds) McCoy was one of the ladies who sewed. She was Pete's wife. Kathy Edmunds, Pete's daughter, donated the original kite that is currently on display at the Wray Museum
On display are several fashions from the era as well as a women’s sewing room. Because of a general shortage of supplies and rationing, the philosophy of the day was “Make do and Mend”. While ready to wear clothing was available, a resourceful lady could fix tears, add embellishments or create a custom look on her own. Many knitted sweaters for the armed forces and learned to recycle old trim and buttons from outdated fashions. Rounding out the exhibit is a living room complete with a working floor radio and small displays on dishes, gravy boats, and toys of the era.
Wray Museum : Exhibit Information