The Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum is a large complex made up of three interconnected buildings. The original building, located behind the Johnson County Courthouse, is where the museum began in 1957. In 1987, the Johnson County Library moved and the old library building became part of the museum in 1989. In 1998 a Carriage House was added. In 2006, the original museum building and the Carnegie Library building were connected.
The Carnegie Library Building
The Carnegie Library Building serves as the museum’s main entrance, museum store, and administrative offices. It is one of the 1,679 libraries philanthropist Andrew Carnegie built across the United States between 1886 and 1919. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 7, 1976.
Due to the requirements of the National Register, when the building was added to the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum, the Johnson County Library sign was retained.
The Carriage House
Added in 1998, the Carriage House, connected to the south side of the original museum building, safeguards the museum’s collection of horse-drawn vehicles.
The Jenkins Family Homestead
Located in front of the museum is the Jenkins Family log cabin. The cabin was built in 1916 by Marshall D. Jenkins, just north of the town of Kaycee. When the Homestead Act of 1862 was passed many families such as the Jenkins packed their belongings and headed to Wyoming to create a new life for themselves.
Homesteading in Wyoming meant facing the challenges of heat, drought, hail, lightning, blizzards, isolation, lawlessness, and backbreaking labor. In 1925 Jenkins sold his homestead patents, including the cabin, and moved his family to Midwest, Wyoming. In 1982 Polly Jenkins purchased her childhood home and moved it to Story, Wyoming. The log cabin reached its final destination at the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum in 2006 when the family donated the homestead cabin and its contents.
The American Indian Tipi
Next to the Jenkins Family Homestead is a reproduced American Indian tipi, used by visitors for both recreational and educational purposes.
Nate Champion’s Last Run
The Nate Champion statue, created by local Buffalo artist D. Michael Thomas, was placed in 2009 by the entrance. Nathan D. Champion is famous for his last stand at the KC Ranch on April 9, 1892 during the Johnson County Cattle War. He was pitted against many well-armed assailants but single-handedly held them at bay before they set fire to the cabin where he was staying. He was shot down as soon as he emerged from the cabin. His defiant seven-hour stand gave the county residents time to halt the Invaders at the TA Ranch.