One man's treasure: Work begins on living ranch

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Some people collect rocks or baseball cards or stamps.

But in Lou Wyman's collection of oddities, one can find a helicopter from the Korean War, a steam tractor from the turn of the century, and an ancient school bus that in its prime transported Moffat County students.

And while some people may keep their treasures hidden away in safes or lock boxes, Wyman plans on sharing his with anyone who is interested.

The old rancher and his wife are planning to open the Wyman Living History Ranch next summer that will display various antiques from agricultural, military and every day life.

"This is for the whole community, but this is really for me," Wyman said. "This is what I do."

Work on the ranch that Wyman foresees as ultimately displaying not only farm equipment and vehicles but old buildings as well has already begun.

"If we can get the Pagoda store and the restoration building completed we will start taking visitors next summer," Wyman said.

He said hopes to have the entire site done in the next couple of years.

"I am getting old, I'm not going to be around for that much longer," Wyman said.

The plans for the site include an extensive welcome center, a restaurant and a ranch with exhibits demonstrating how life was on ranches in Moffat County in the early 1900s.

The Wymans have wanted to open the site for about 20 years, Wyman said, but the money was never there before. Now though, the couple has sold their ranch and started the project.

When the site opens it will be located on Highway 40 east of Craig on the south side of the road.

Wyman said he hopes to talk to the state about allowing him to build an entrance by the east end of the property so that visitors can see the site and it will have easier access.

All of the items on display at the site will be from 1880 through about 1950. And most of the equipment was procured in the Moffat County area.

Wyman has collected all his equipment in the last 50 years.

"The first thing that I bought was a 1932 Lincoln down at Elk Springs," Wyman said. "It was sitting there in a vacant lot, in 1950. It was a 12-cylindar hand-made Lincoln. I didn't know much about cars back then."

Wyman ended up selling the car about 15 years ago for $250,000 because he needed the money.

Now when Wyman and his wife, co-owner Paula Wyman, collect something that is far away they make a trip out of it.

"She kind of enjoys it, we are going to go to Idaho soon to pick up this truck," Wyman said.

Of all of the pieces, some of which Wyman paid for and some that were donated, one of the most expensive is a chainsaw collection he purchased from a man in Massachusetts.

"I saw this story in the Denver Post about this man with the most complete chainsaw collection and I saw that he wanted it to be in a museum," Wyman said.

The owner ended up selling the collection for less than he wanted because it was going to be put in the museum and kept together.

Wyman said he is looking for some old buildings, such as an old school, to augment his collection and place in the town that he is creating as a part of the living history ranch and museum.

Moffat County Commissioner Les Hampton said the next phase is to move the Pagoda Store up to the site. The store, currently located in Hamilton, has been re-roofed and will be moved to the living history ranch site this summer.

Wyman said he and his wife made the Wyman Living History Ranch and Museum into a private non-profit organization and have put money in a fund that will provide funds after they are gone.

"We are going to make it work, we don't expect to make any money," Wyman said, estimating the entire project will cost around $3 million to $4 million.

Wyman said he would like to put up hay on part of the land and have some horses. He said he also would like to start a farmers festival in the fall for the community.

"You are only limited by your imagination," Wyman said.

Liz King is an intern with the Craig Daily Press. She can be reached at 824-7031 or eking@craigdailypress.com.

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