Steven Dinero was looking forward to updating the Carbon County Museum’s exhibit before COVID-19 hit.
At the end of 2019, the Union Pacific Foundation had just awarded Dinero, the museum’s executive director, and his staff a few grants to update the current showrooms that had been on display for almost 10 years.
Rawlins, home to the museum, has deep ties with Union Pacific. So, when Dinero and his team publicized they were updating the space, many residents in the community began bringing boxes and old Union Pacific relics to the museum.
But then the coronavirus pandemic hit the state in mid-March of 2020, and Dinero was worried that the museum wouldn’t make it. A year later, the museum anticipates completing its updated exhibition by mid-May, and Dinero is eager to share it with visitors.
“We haven’t had a school group in about a year until the McKinnon elementary and middle school kids came,” Dinero said. “I was thrilled to see them, and, of course, they were here masked.”
In the past year, the lack of cross-country drivers looking for a break from the road and the loss of visitations from school and senior groups from all over the state have created a massive void that Dinero and his staff are now trying to fill.
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With all the contributed artifacts from the community and donations through former Rawlins trainmaster Ricky Durrant, Dinero believes “we’ll have one of the largest exhibits (in) Wyoming.”
The past year has forced the museum to think outside the box — depending solely on in-person visitations is no longer reliable — and now, Dinero plans to host the exhibition virtually as well.
“It’s going to be our very first virtual exhibit and will be going online sometime around the very same time that we’re we’re shooting for an opening,” he said. “And, God willing, it will be an opening where we’ll have actual visitors.”
Some people are familiar with “Big Nose George” and the past exhibits, but Dinero insists the museum has much more to offer.
“We want to have anybody and everybody,” he said. “We have a fascinating history here.”