The Miracle of America Museum in Polson sits off to the side of Hwy. 93, the only road north to Kalispell. Its sign begs for attention and the old building and parking lot, including the boat, “Paul Bunyan”, smack of a tourist trap. But, believe me, the 5 dollar admission price for adults and 2 dollars for kids is a bargain! The museum takes a few hours to complete and is chock full of memorabilia about what made America great.
The collection begins indoors and includes all sorts of items; everything from wash boards to motorcycles. The stuff is cool, weird, and thought provoking. As you walk past the displays, you can’t help but think about the independent, hard-working, and resourceful Americans who built this country. They relied on themselves and their imaginations to “build a better tomorrow”. You think of how America has changed over the years – sometimes for the better, sometimes not – and about its current reliance on foreign countries to manufacture things. One wonders if the good ol’ USofA will ever be as individualistic as it once was.
The museum shows off American ingenuity at its best and as you can see in the following photo, Americans have been innovative to say the least. Thank goodness, we as a nation have come a long way in the hair curling department. Mom always said, “You have to suffer to be beautiful”, and this early American hair curling contraption on Annie’s head can attest to that. So glad it was before my time. I’m sure Mom would have had me at the beauty parlor at least once in my life with this monstrosity on my head.
Exhibits packed with military weapons displayed Americans love for war, and propaganda posters dotted the walls. As I looked at them I thought of how nothing much has changed in that department.
The government still uses the same tactics to dehumanize the enemy, control the masses, and make men go to war.
Leading to the outside, you pass through a charming old fashioned soda shop complete with table jukeboxes.
I really loved this section. It reminded me of being a kid and eating at lunch counters on Canal Street with my mom, and also having ice cream sodas with friends at K & B.
Stepping out onto the back stoop, you glance around and realize there is a lot more to see. Wood frame buildings house objects from a by-gone era and you see planes, helicopters, and classic cars parked around the yard.
After looking around, I decided the the stuff in the yard fits into two parts – guy stuff and gal stuff.
The gal stuff, for me, came in the form of an old school playground. It was fun, especially playing tether ball with the girls. It reminded me of elementary school recess.
Then there were the see-saws and merry-go-rounds. Familiar with these? If you are, you likely live in a rural area like Kalispell, Montana where you can still find these things, or you’re from a generation before this type of playground equipment was considered hazardous.
My daughter Eileen flew off of a merry-go-round in Oklahoma when she was around two. Thank goodness she only suffered a brush burned chin. I still feel guilty about that.
I also loved looking in the dry goods stores with their shelves of dusty boxes and old canning jars. Some of the products were brand name and still exist to this day, but in different packaging. The old washing machines were interesting to look at and made me thank my lucky stars that I have a modern machine. I may feel like a reincarnated pioneer woman at times, but the thought of scrubbing and wringing out clothes all day seems awful. The houses filled with old furnishings and toys were fun to look at as well.
David obviously enjoyed all of these things, but when it came to the equipment barn, the tractor exhibits, and the black smith’s shop, that is where he really took an interest.
He started to reminisce about his old tractors and began telling Mallory and Eileen all about what makes them tick.
And with his expertise in tool making, the black smith’s shop became an opportunity to inform.
He even found an old Schwinn bicycle, just like the one he had when he was growing up, in the side yard of a pioneer house.
When all was said and done, I was amazed by how much stuff can fit under one roof and one yard. A family could visit the Miracle of America Museum multiple times and never see all of it, as items of historical interest are constantly being added to its extensive collection.
Mr. Mangal (the owner of the museum) asked us as we were leaving, “Did you get your money’s worth?”
It was our second visit to the museum and each time it has taken us about 3 1/2 to 4 hours to explore.
I think it’s a good thing there are museums like Miracle of America. Through memorabilia and imagery, they express America’s founding ideals. Far too many Americans have forgotten or don’t understand the meaning of the true American spirit.
And as you can see, the museum has something for everyone.
Everywhere you look, life is an adventure!