Sheerar and Washington Irving Trail Museums in Stillwater, OK

By Brandon Lowe on May 10, 2011 at 10:15 pm EST
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PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Adkins

The Sheerar and the Washington Irving Trail museums both offer a detailed look at Oklahoma history with a focus on Payne County.

Located on South Duncan Street, The Sheerar Museum is named after an OSU engineering professor who decided to put his mother’s impressive button collection on display. The 3,450 buttons, dated from the 1740s to the 1930s, are still here, but the museum has expanded well beyond that initial idea.

In 1989, the museum became the official Stillwater History Museum, covering history from the 1889 Land Run that established Oklahoma settle­ments to Oklahoma State’s beginnings as an agriculture college.

Permanent exhibits are broken down into 10-year increments of history, ranging from archeological history to the establishment of the university. Much of the museum features donated materials.

“We are always accepting items from the local community,” says museum registrar Adelia Hanson. The Washington Irving Trail Museum is nationally recognized for its interactive exhibits and diverse collection of Americana.

“We emphasize the artifacts to tell the story,” curator Dale Chlouber says.

After researching undeveloped museum topics, Chlouber decided to produce a permanent exhibit on Washington Irving, the country’s first internationally acclaimed writer. Irving’s connection to Oklahoma is through his adventure into the west, which resulted in his book, A Tour on the Prairies.

The museum is filled with a varied collection of American artifacts, ranging from a 37-pound meteorite to the original 1692 death warrant for Salem Witch Trial defendant Rebecca Nurse. Many of the nearly 200 artifacts, which Chlouber has collected for 50 years, could easily be at home in national museums. He says the American Indian artifacts on display in the Washington Irving Trail Museum are the envy of the Smithsonian. A new American Indian wing is currently in development.

Find more on Stillwater, OK's history.

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