Golden museum is golden | perspectives

Longtime readers of this great publication will know that we are dedicated to serving Taney and Stone Counties and strive to bring you the important events of our region. However, on the rare occasions when we really don’t work 24/7 (because let’s face it, news never really sleeps), Tim, AJ and I have hobbies and interests that take us away from our home base.

For me I’m a photographer who focuses on nature and abandoned buildings. (I also do show and concert photography, but mostly as a favor for friends.) A result of this hobby, I travel all over the region looking for interesting things to capture with the lens of my trusty Canon 6D.

I’ve found all sorts of interesting things to photograph in our area, from an abandoned mining town and suspension bridge in rural Arkansas to a variety of Missouri State Parks. (One thing I always jokingly ask gubernatorial candidates is if they plan on keeping our state parks open to the public; I honestly don’t know what I would do if either of them said no!)

One of my favorite photo destinations is Roaring River State Park. If the place isn’t as busy as Walmart on a Saturday morning I can usually find some really great spots to capture wildlife or just the river itself in a new way. As a result of my travels, I have often passed the Golden Pioneer Museum. I have a fondness for history and museums, so I’ve often wanted to stop and check it out, but it was never open when I stopped by on my way to Eagle Rock (affectionately called “the Missouri Census Designated Place”) Google! )

Last Saturday, I saw “OPEN” in beautiful red neon in the museum’s window, so I pulled off Route 86 and entered what, from the outside, doesn’t look at all like the wonderland of American and natural history that awaits me.

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As you enter the museum, you can immediately see that you didn’t take enough time to see everything you are about to see. You look to the right, you see tractors and lunch boxes. In front of you are Native American artifacts. on your left? geodes and crystals. There is clearly a huge selection of items.

Variety will be the key word in your vocabulary.

I knew I was going to get hooked as I walked through the room to the right of the entrance. I’m not much for antique tractors, and I’ll admit I’m not the greatest Native American arrowhead, so it started slow. Then I found the rows of metal lunch boxes containing everything from the Lone Ranger to Star Wars.

Growing up, our family didn’t have much, so getting a new lunch box for school was a big deal for my brother and I. When I was in elementary school, I was a huge fan of the NFL. I had this vinyl poster I found at a flea market that listed the divisions and had little round vinyl sticker-like things with the teams’ helmets on them so I could keep the chart up to date for the season .

So we opened presents for Christmas one year and there it was: a brand new lunch box with the helmets of the NFL teams on it. On one side the AFC, on the other the NFC. My grandpa Dale bought it for me so it was doubly special and he and dad surprised me by taking black paint and covering up the Dallas Cowboys logo because the cowboys are bad and you don’t represent satan’s football team on a good boy can let lunch box. (Remember, I’m a Philadelphia Eagles fan, and while Grandpap and Dad weren’t, they were Pittsburgh Steelers fans who also had a healthy dislike for the team with the star on their helmet.)

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So I look up and down the rows of lunch boxes, enjoying the rare items I see when I spot them on the bottom row. A duplicate of my lunch box that Grandpap bought me (with the Cowboys logo on it, but not everyone knows how to erase it.)

The moment I saw the lunch box, I knew I would put off my daily plans to dig around the museum. If they had that childhood memory covered, I had a suspicion that there would be many more memories on deck.

I’m so glad I stayed.

The rest of the museum is a treasure trove of diversity with collections from people who have lived throughout the United States.

There are collections of Civil War memorabilia that really got to me because I used to live near Gettysburg, PA and my father and I are huge Civil War fans. Seeing items labeled “Gettysburg” or military insignia of a unit that was in combat reminded me of growing up with Dad and giving people tours of the battlefield, what the National Park Service like made amateurs look. (My father prided himself on knowing more about the battle than most park rangers who worked the battlefield.)

The museum has huge collections of different types of glass, from deepening glass to “petroleum jelly” glass that glows under black lights. The museum has what is arguably the largest collection of glass butter dishes in the Midwest. There is the “most unique quartz cluster in the world”. There are police insignia and agency emblems around the world.

Most of you are aware of my love of music, so the Elvis and Beatles memorabilia have attracted a lot of attention. I had heard that some of the items I saw in the collection existed, but actually seeing them was a really fun experience. (And Ringo’s bobble head, suddenly nodding at me like one drummer acknowledging another, literally made me laugh out loud.)

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There is so much more I could share with you but I don’t want to spoil any surprises like I had on my first visit.

The best thing about this museum? It’s totally free! They ask for donations to keep the museum running, but it’s free to come in and see. So if you have a family of six and you If you can’t find anything to do without spending half your paycheck, you might want to visit the Golden Pioneer Museum. (On the other hand, at current gas prices, it could still be half your paycheck.)

Coming from Branson you’ll want to head west like you’re visiting our buddy Johnny at Dogwood Canyon off Highway 86, but just keep going. When you see the twin tire shops at a Y across the street, look to the right and you will see the Golden Pioneer Museum. From the outside it looks like a flea market.

The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:30am to 4:30pm, but only from April 1st to October 31st. Plan your trip by visiting

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