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4:33 AM Fri, Sept. 21st

New museum to preserve vestiges of Whipple's past

Mick Woodcock looks at a backdrop design for one of the rooms in the Fort Whipple Museum.

Courier/ Dorine Swayze

The original fort was named for Amiel Weeks Whipple, a general who died in 1863 from wounds he received at Chancellorsville, Woodcock said. In that same year President Abraham Lincoln designated the Arizona Territory and Joseph Reddeford Walker found gold in the Bradshaw Mountains.

The first Fort Whipple was established at Del Rio Springs, just north of Chino Valley, in late 1863, and the Army moved its headquarters to Prescott in May 1864.

The Army came to Arizona to protect miners from hostile Indians while they searched for gold.

The foyer will include mining artifacts, gold scales, an 1860s Mexican boot spur and pre-historic Indian artifacts.

Replicas of Gen. George Crook's chair and field desk will occupy one of the two downstairs rooms, along with Army paperwork of the period that visitors will be able to leaf through.

The other downstairs room, originally a parlor or dining room, will illustrate "Army life in the 1870s through 1890s." It also will contain an exhibit about Teddy Roosevelt's Roughriders. The museum is putting together displays of medical instruments and an interactive exhibit of tools used by laundry workers before 1900.

Because of delays in the production of backdrops for exhibits, Sharlot Hall Museum won't be able to open second floor exhibits until after the planned May 21 ribbon-cutting date for the museum opening.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is celebrating the 140th birthday of Fort Whipple starting on May 4.

While the Sharlot Hall Museum is taking primary responsibility for building military history exhibits, the VA has refurbished the house, which most recently served as office space, to as near-original condition as possible.

The Voluntary Services office will provide volunteers to staff the Fort Whipple Museum during its open hours, which initially probably will be from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Contact the reporter at dgoss@prescottaz.com