Cabin to house visitor center

Project is part of big plans for 2007 for Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg

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The Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg has acquired this home and will move it next to Bucket Park to be used as a visitor center.

— Renee Johnson predicts 2007 will be a busy year for the Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg.

In addition to completing the society's museum in the old Oak Creek Town Hall at the top of Main Street, the society is also beginning the process of moving a historic Oak Creek log cabin from its current location behind the Rio Oso Nursery across Main Street to its new home next to Bucket Park.

The big move has been years in the making, said Johnson, the president of the Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg.

"The plan has always been to make that cabin a visitor center," she said. "If it all comes together, we hope to have the cabin moved this summer."

The South Routt Economic Development Council has gotten involved in the project to lift some of the burden on the society, which has been busy renovating the old Town Hall to house the museum.

Karen Tussey, who represents Oak Creek on the council, said she has learned a lot about what it takes to move a building to a new site.

"There is still much to be discussed, but I'm sure we're going to make this thing work," she said.

The Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg, the town of Oak Creek and the South Routt Economic Development Council will continue to discuss the logistics of moving the building and how to secure funds to complete the project.

California resident Ken Rossi donated the log cabin to the historical society in 2004. Rossi's mother, Betty Burns, lived in the cabin since she was a teenager.

The 20-by-30-foot cabin was built in 1920 and has one bedroom, a living room, one bathroom and a kitchen.

Burns' father purchased the cabin after being discharged from the U.S. Navy after World War II.

Preserving the cabin was an accomplishment because many of Oak Creek's historic buildings weren't preserved, Johnson said.

"We're missing quite a few of our historic buildings," she said. "We wanted to preserve this one."

Burns, who no longer lives in the cabin, was surprised to learn the society was interested in her home.

"It was a shock when they first asked me about it, but I can see why they wanted to preserve it," she said.

Johnson said once a foundation and water and sewer lines are laid, the building should be ready to go. The visitor center could feature room for office space, and regional information featuring different areas of South Routt County.

The museum is scheduled for completion in February.

"We'll emphasize the area's rich mining history as well as the ranching and railroad industries that have made South Routt what it is," she said. "That's what this community is all about."

In addition to the museum and visitor center projects, the historical society is hosting a "Kick off Oak Creek's Centennial" party from 1 to 4 p.m. Jan. 6 at Oak Creek Town Hall.

The special menu includes black-eyed peas, rice and cornbread.

"The old timers believe eating these foods will bring you luck," she said.

All South Routt residents are invited to attend the first event recognizing Oak Creek's 100th birthday and those who sign the town guestbook will receive a special commemorative centennial coin.

The gathering also will feature a display of historic buildings created by former South Routt Middle School students.

"We have something going on all the time," she said. "There will be no boredom in 2007."

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