Cassia County Historical Museum

Cassia County Historical Museum
Burley, Cassia County

  • Grants: 2016 – log cabin restoration, 2021 – train car restoration assessment

Location: 1142 Hiland Ave., Burley, ID 83318

The Cassia County Museum grounds include a collection of historic buildings and antiquities. One of those historic buildings is a log cabin built by Bill Rice in 1872 on a ranch in the Conner Creek area of Cassia County. Bill and his wife Del were the second family to settle in the Elba area. The original site of the cabin was the location of a stagecoach station along the Kelton route from Kelton, Utah to Boise. At different times, the cabin served as a schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop and a bunkhouse for the freight drivers that traveled on the stage route. In 1950 the cabin was relocated by Ed Kelsey to use on his ranch. In 1972 it was relocated again to the Museum.

Another item of particular note is a late-1800s train car that was initially brought to Idaho in the late 1920s by Bill Evans, “The Carnival King of the Southwest”. It featured plush upholstery, ample lighting, and ornately decorated interiors, and was used to exhibit a freak show highlighted by the mummified body of John Wilkes Booth.

Evans stayed in Declo for about two years before leaving with Booth’s body and abandoning the car, which was later used as a home apartment, barber shop, and an unceremonious stint as a pig pen for sows. The car was then given to the museum in October of 1973, by Ray Anderson of Declo. Since the car was stripped for scrap during WWII, all real identifying marks are gone, making it difficult to discern the original make and model. It was richly furnished with red velvet drapes, oak furniture and plush carpet. Returning the car to its former glory is an ongoing priority of the Cassia County Historical Museum.

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