My Idaho: Weiser Museum rich with history

Posted at 4:16 PM, Jul 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-26 10:33:48-04

WEISER, Idaho — There is a beautiful three-story building in Weiser that breathes history. The former school-turned-museum will turn anyone's head.

The Snake River Heritage Center is a great place for history buffs to learn a thing or two.

Back in the late 1800s, a pastor arrived in Weiser to preach. After some time in the area, he noticed something unusual.

"Since it was a farming community and all these kids out here were going to one-room schoolhouses, they could get a good education through 8th grade, but that was it," says Heritage Center board member Dottie Emert. "You can't afford to send your kids to school in town."

Decades came and went, and the school became a three-building campus for boys and girls and eventually the town's high school.

Emert has seen it all, including seeing Bing Crosby entertain the kids while on a hunting trip to Idaho.

"He performed on this stage, ad-libbed. There wasn't a big performance, but the kids loved it."

Or the time Hall of Fame pitcher Walter Johnson, then 19, doubled as a telephone company employee and a pitcher for a team in Weiser.

"We would challenge Caldwell to a ball game so the whole city of Weiser would go down to the depot, get on a train, rent a car, and they went to the game in Caldwell and cheered for Walter Johnson."

If you have any interest in arrowheads, the Heritage Center claims to have one of the biggest collections in the entire country.

"As you can see, where the halves come in, they're different, and each one of them is a different tribe because they have a different making."

If only the walls could talk -- or do they?

"There are rooms on the third floor that are supposedly haunted, but I haven't seen any and I go up there all by myself. He's a friendly ghost if he is, he's really nice."

The most somber display is the Holocaust room, created by Weiser students for a school class project. When it was time to clean up at school, the community said wait. Dottie Emert says the community did not want to forget so it was decided to bring the display over to the center.

Some photographs can be disturbing to look at but tell the truth of the atrocities.

"The most shocking thing they look at is this. This was the community toilet; they then say, 'oh, that's bad. That's bad.'"

The Heritage Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Saturday. If nobody is there, just call the number on the front door and someone will come faster than you can say, "Walter Johnson just struck out on the side."