Bringing down the store

Wyman Living History Ranch aquires new exhibit

A local man's dream came true Wednesday when a giant museum piece was relocated to his property east of Craig.

Lou Wyman, 70, watched as crew of workers guided Chet Acord's 75-ton crane in lifting the Pagoda Store off of a flatbed trailer and placed it on the new foundation Wyman had built for his latest acquisition.

"I've wanted it for 30 years," Wyman said of the store where he shopped as a boy in the 1930s and 1940s.

Wyman added the store to his growing collection of artifacts on display at the site that will soon become the Wyman Living History Ranch.

The store joins many old tractors and other memorabilia at the site Wyman hopes will include a welcome center, a restaurant and all kinds of artifacts showing what life was like in this area early in the 20th century.

Wyman said he has had the idea for the open-air museum for 20 years, but never had the money until now, after selling his ranch near Pagoda.

Wyman was born at the ranch, three miles from the Pagoda Store's original location. He acquired the store's pot-bellied stove in 1950, six years after the store ceased operations.

The store originally was located in Pagoda, a ranching hub on the William's Fork River. It was one of many stores owned by J.W. Hugus & Company.

Hugus owned stores in Craig, Meeker, Steamboat and Rifle.

Local writer Perry Van Dorn wrote a book on the Hugus chain called "Flickering Lights In Vacant Windows." The picture on the book's cover is the Pagoda Store.

According to the book, work began on the store in 1906.

Craig's first mayor, A.S. Robinson, said in Van Dorn's book that he had a hand in store's construction.

Wyman said the store sold everything from clothes to flour, and bulk candy out of big glass jars. It also housed the post office for a time.

Dan Davidson, director of the Museum of Northwest Colorado, was happy to hear Wyman successfully moved the historical building.

"If it wasn't for Louie (Wyman), it never would have survived," Davidson said.

The museum also contains items from the Pagoda Store, including the original glass display cases, which Davidson had restored. The wooden-framed cases survived the years in good condition, considering they were found just inside the storefront's missing windows, exposed to the elements for decades.

Wyman has commissioned the restoration of the storefront, which was a wall of framed windows.

Wyman's crew will set the roof back on the building Friday.

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or jbrowning@craigdailypress.com.

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