The original five founders of the Wakarusa Historical Society in 1975 - Larry Smith, Bob Ehret, Floyd Drake, Helen Klein, and Jack Hess.
Undated photo of women visiting the Little Red Schoolhouse.
Dean and LuAnn Thompson with Helen Klein in Grandma's Haus - June 4, 2005.
Reid and Judy Eby posing with artwork - 1981.
Ted Wesolek, Helen Klein, and Lewis Haines shown with fund raising banks for the Little Red Schoolhouse - January, 1996.
Undated early photo of the Museum grounds.
Very early photo of the Museum - circa 1976.
Lewis Haines...and the calliope crashed to the ground. Oh, wait...that's Manfred Mann doing "Blinded by the Light!"- Dated April of 1988.
The Historical Society gathering at Devon Rose's home to observe the ceremonial "passing the torch" of his collection - June, 2008.
Devon, signing the contract, while his wife, Dick Smith, and Helen Klein look on - June, 2008.
Scene from Historic Ag Days - October 4, 2014.
Children visiting the Museum during Educational Days - undated, early 1980s.
Helen chatting with schoolchildren, presumably during Educational Days - undated.
HWedding of Jason Perkins & Melissa Stump - August 16, 2014.
The train cars resting on the new section of tracks - August 9, 2014.
Board members at Open House welcome event - January 18, 2015.
Burt McPheeters consults NWHS football players on proper spiking techniques - June 14, 2014.
The original spur line upon clearance of train cars - June 14, 2014.
Our world, our lives, our community…all were very different places 40 years ago. Moments and memories tend to lose their brilliance as time goes on. Yet across those 40 years, the Wakarusa Historical Museum has been driven in its desire to be a hallowed haven for keeping those treasured glimpses of yesteryears just as they are, as they were, everlasting in our minds and hearts.
The story begins with the visionary dedication of several Wakarusa citizens, all of whom were determined not to allow the demolition of what they knew to be a cherished local landmark. Floyd Drake, Robert Ehret, Jack Hess, Helen Klein, and Larry Smith championed for the preservation of the train depot that once hauled freight and carried passengers to and from Wakarusa. That campaign led to the formation of the Wakarusa Historical Society in 1975, followed by the institution that came to be known as the Wakarusa Historical Museum in 1976.
The primitive yet stately depot facility soon became encircled by a number of other buildings and symbolic structures, all representative of various time periods in southwestern Elkhart County history. In time, two vintage train cars were brought to the Museum grounds. Buildings were brought, some erected and others relocated from a nearly original state, each capturing a way of life, an iconic era across the spectrum of time.
There was the building which once housed the medical offices of Drs. Clay and Wagner. And the primitive tool shed which displays the impressive collections of Dean Garber. There is the sweetly simplistic “Little Red Schoolhouse,” meant to serve as a reminder of the days of single-room classes, when pupils of all ages shared communal studies within one small space.
All but a mere fraction of what came to be and that which remains yet to be discovered, as the mission of the Wakarusa Historical Society forges mightily on, all these years later. The proverbial torch has been passed to a different generation, but the vision is steadfast and sure…to preserve the treasures of history for today, tomorrow, and all the days to follow.
And we sincerely hope that you’ll join us on the adventure, wherever it may lead, for another 40 years and beyond. Thank you for sharing the celebration of this glorious milestone with us.
“God bless all the beautiful dreamers…
…for they rise above with perseverance & passion…oh, how they prevail…
…on the journey in the art of the heart…”
With much gratitude…The Wakarusa Historical Society Board of Directors, staff, and volunteers