The Lemhi County Historical Society’s responsibility to preserve, protect, exhibit, and interpret local and regional history has fostered two major preservation projects as the organization begins its 51st year of service to this community. The society is working to improve the museum for artifact safety and visitor enjoyment and striving to protect and restore a building important in the historical development of the City of Salmon and Lemhi County.
Having come to terms with the fact that not all old things need preserving, the historical society board voted to replace the original 1963 museum lighting. The extreme danger posed by an outmoded system and failing ballasts necessitated this expensive decision. The Auen Foundation and Sherrie Cummings Auen granted the Lemhi County Museum $5,000.00 to make sure the priceless artifact collections remain safe. Idaho Power, due to the energy-efficient lighting installed by Mike Ernest Electric, will provide a substantial rebate, and historical society members have donated over $500.00 toward the completion of this project. Not only will the new lights forestall a potential fire, they are filtered to protect the artifacts from UV damage and add a surprisingly “new” look to the collections.
During the last year, the historical society board and members also embarked on the stabilization and restoration of the Salmon Herald/Grange building. This project, the largest undertaken since the historical society built the museum in 1963, is important to our regional and state history in many ways. Constructed from local Pollard brick in 1910, the Salmon Herald/Grange is an historical landmark in the City of Salmon. Located in the former Chinese section of town, it has served the community as a newspaper office, the Grange Association hall, a soup kitchen, and an occasional performance center. E. K. Abbott, publisher and editor of the Lemhi Herald (in November of 1914, Abbott changed the name to the Salmon Herald), had the building constructed to house his journalistic endeavor. He relocated to Main Street in 1932. The Salmon Grange Association acquired the former newspaper office in 1945, adding a kitchen to facilitate its gatherings.
As granges succumbed to changing times across the country, the Salmon Grange, too, experienced decreasing membership and activities. Efforts to increase support for the Grange, by allowing residents to hold community concerts and through the creation of a much-needed soup kitchen, enabled the organization to maintain ownership of the building until the turn of the 21st century. When the National Grange Association decided to liquidate a number of granges, longtime Grange members, Joanne Tingle and Myra Miller worked to keep the Salmon Grange available for public use. To this end, they approached the Lemhi County Historical Society with an option to buy the building. Using $4,000.00 of a $10,000.00 donation, given in memory of Fred and Thelma Ramey by Patsy Ramey and Bart Templeman, the society purchased the Salmon Grange in August of 2007 in hopes of being able to restore it and expand the Museum’s exhibit and work space.