For more than 30 years, Teddie Daley worked to preserve and promote the local history of Blaine County, serving as treasurer, then president and finally director of the Blaine County Historical Museum in Hailey.
Now, though remaining a board member, Daley has passed the directorial torch to Hailey resident and history enthusiast Rebecca Cox.
Not long ago, Cox stopped in at the museum to conduct a little research on the old house in which she and her family live. Equal parts fascinated by the thousands of historical artifacts on display and charmed by Daley’s passion for history, Cox decided she would volunteer to help out a little.
One thing led to another and, as Daley said, “She came in to volunteer, but then I volunteered her,” and now Cox is prepping for her first season as museum director.
Following a successful soft opening over Memorial Day weekend, the museum is gearing up for an official grand opening celebration this Father’s Day, June 16.
The museum will mark the occasion with live music and mini-golf in the recently acquired adjacent lot, old-fashioned root beer floats and a scavenger hunt throughout the museum for kids. The entire event, like admittance to the museum itself, is offered free of charge.
The new museum director has been working to revamp old exhibits, refurbish some of the interactive displays and share her enthusiasm for history.
“This place is a treasure box,” Cox said. “I feel like a kid in a candy shop looking through all these things. [The board has] been so gracious, so welcoming, and very patient with all my ambitious ideas.”
One would be hard pressed to find a more apt description than “treasure box” for the museum’s vast collection. From the functional player piano and fully operational telephone switchboard (Blaine County’s first, which came to Carey in 1911) to an ashtray used by Theodore Roosevelt and a rifle bent out of shape while attempting to subdue a rampaging circus elephant in 1884, the collection highlights the vibrant, unexpected, sometimes turbulent history of the valley.
As much as the items themselves form a boundless well of fascination, Cox said, “What I’m most excited about is the team effort of all these generations working together.”
For more than half a century, community members have come together at the museum for the common goal of preserving the county’s rich legacy.
“When they put this together in the ’60s, that group was so passionate about obtaining these items and telling these stories, and the current group is just as passionate about making sure they’re never forgotten,” Cox said.
Daley related how nearly every artifact in the museum’s collection was donated, and almost nothing purchased. That fact alone speaks to the museum’s irrefutable standing as a community institution, and Cox says community—and moreover the prioritization of that community’s history—will remain the museum’s core focus.
“Education is our emphasis,” she said. “We have a lot of great items, but we’re hoping to teach people why they’re important. We hope people will leave here with new concepts and understandings. Really, it’s all about getting everyone in and sparking that love of history. That’s my intention.”
The museum—located at 218 N. Main St. in Hailey—is now open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays, through October.
Visit bchistoricalmuseum.org for details.