Museum benchmark: Laughlin chamber makes donation to historical society

March 22, 2019

BULLHEAD CITY — It is a simple wood-and-metal park bench, placed near the main entrance to the Colorado River Historical Society Museum at Bullhead Community Park.

It’s more than just a place for weary visitors to rest. It’s a gesture of partnership that stretches across the Colorado River.

The new bench was installed Thursday, provided by the Laughlin Chamber of Commerce and its Volunteers In Partnership program.

“It’s a sign of friendship and inner-working between the two of us,” said Elsie Needles, president of the historical society board. “It will be used — and appreciated.”

“We’re proud to work with (the chamber and VIP program),” added board member Karole Finkelstein added. “It is a Tri-state museum.”

The museum opened in its new location in December in what was the first phase of moving from the old church building near Davis Camp. More phases are in the works, some immediate and some long-range as funding becomes available. Needles noted that the bench helps the museum continue its forward progress.

“The more we add here, the more authentic it looks,” she said. “It gives us more credibility as a museum, as someplace people want to visit. People should visit.”

Jackie Mazzeo, executive director of the Laughlin Chamber, said it was a way to say “thank you” to the museum board and staff — all volunteers — for their service.

“Thank you for the commitment to preserving our history,” she said. “We’re glad you’re here.”

It is one way the Laughlin Chamber is fulfilling one of Mazzeo’s mottos, “strengthening the bridge that connects our communities.”

“Jackie wanted to make sure that people were aware how important the museum was on both sides of the river,” said Val Gabaldon, executive assistant for the chamber. “This is a little token opportunity to provide that.”

Judy Critz, president of the VIPs, said the chamber volunteers were in full agreement with Mazzeo to acquire the bench for the museum.

“This is the Colorado River Museum,” she said, echoing Finkelstein’s view that it isn’t a Bullhead City facility nor a Laughlin facility. It belongs to the entire region.

Needles said the next immediate need for the museum is fencing to secure the area so other items from the old museum site — such as mining equipment and the old Bullhead General Store — can be displayed at Community Park, joining the Moss Mine Head Frame and Lil’ Red Schoolhouse as efforts continue for creating a Colorado River Heritage Center at the park.

Time is on the museum’s side — for now. The lease of the property near Davis Camp runs through 2022. But, Needles said, there are many things to be done before everything can be moved to Community Park.

She said she hopes someday to house a research library at the museum, noting, “every museum should have a research library,” with books, photos and other documents about the area and its history accessible to the public. The museum already has many of those items on display.

“We still have a lot of things we want to do,” Needles said.