What was life like in the Old West? Not so old, for one thing – for many of the events we think of when we use the term are only a little more than a century old. The rootin’-tootin’ gunslinger-plagued Wild West quieted down in the 1880s in most parts of the country, and in its place came a time of orderly, well constructed communities that offered good, safe lives for their citizens – places very much like the ones in which we live today. Such was the case with Wickenburg, which admittedly had plenty of rough-and-tumble times before settling down to become the wonderful place that it is now. In the space of a few decades, it went from rough mining camp to tidy outpost of civilization, an evolution that is visible at many turns in the Museum’s dioramas and other exhibits.
A life-scale reconstruction of parts of the town in the second decade of the twentieth century occupies much of the Museum’s lower level. One of its highlights is the general store, carefully assembled by longtime benefactor Jane Fisher, who collected the hundreds of period artifacts that make up the exhibit. Other things to see are a saloon, watch-repair shop, stable, post office, private home and church. These displays are complemented by “Out on the Ranch”, a hands-on exhibit of a period ranch house with kitchen and sleeping porch, corral, and nearby chuck wagon that invites visitors to re-live the life of early Wickenburg settlers. These lower level displays all give a detailed and authentic view of what daily life was like in Wickenburg a hundred years ago.