Casper, Wyoming: Unusual Attractions and More Awesome Museums

It takes more than one visit to Casper, Wyoming, to really get a low down on all the awesome museums and unusual attractions that lurk in this city. These museums and odd attractions make Casper, Wyoming, really worth your time. Here’s some more eclectic attractions and incredible museums that can be found in Casper, Wyoming:

The Science Zone is a Kid-Friendly Attraction

This is Casper’s 10,000 square foot science mecca for kids of all ages. It’s also got the distinction of being located in the Sunrise Shopping Center, which is touted as America’s first enclosed shopping center! The permanent exhibitions in the collection are as follows:

The exhibit the kids flock to first is the Bubble Zone. Large bubbles can be created with 2-3 foot bubble wands. The Body Basics exhibit shows how the human body works. X-ray machines reveal actual bone structures. Kids can use a real stethoscope to check their heartbeats. The Brainfood CafĂ© isn’t a gross out eating place, but where visitors get a restaurant style menu to check out various brain teasing games and puzzles to keep their minds filled with challenges in Casper, Wyoming.

At the Demo Zone, live experiments and presentations take place. During the Christmas season, the popular “Science of Santa” demonstration uses science to explain, among other things, how reindeer fly, and how Santa comes down and goes back up Casper, Wyoming, chimneys. Another popular showing is live demonstrations done with liquid nitrogen. At the Gems and Minerals exhibition, hundreds of gems and minerals are on display, thanks to a generous local college professor who teaches Geology. And if you’ve never seen fossilized poo-poo before, this is the place to go, as two specimens of fish and mammal droppings can be admired up close and personal!

Now, the Zoo Zone is my favorite area, full of nature’s smaller creatures. These include several species of turtles like the Red Eared Slider and Painted Turtle. One of the most popular pets for kids and adults lives here: that being the non-poisonous Rose Hair Tarantula, part of the spider family. A number of Geckos thrive here, including the Day Gecko, who can detach its tail when in danger. Beard-A-Lee, the friendly Bearded Dragon, who originally came from the Land Down Under, can be petted! She enjoys eating crickets and scrambled eggs.

The upcoming exhibition at this Casper science museum that’s sure to draw much interest is called “The Robot Zoo”, which is going to run until the middle of May 2007. Animal robots will demonstrate via biomechanics the workings of live animals, including a fly with a 3-foot wingspan. This interactive exhibit is to cover some 2,500 square feet.

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The Science Zone: at Sunrise Shopping Center, 3960 S. Poplar #3604, Casper, Wyoming 82601. 307-473-ZONE. Admission charge.

Casper‘s Seeing Eye House: Wyoming‘s Big Brother?

Lovers of the written word will remember the seeing eyes billboard from The Great Gatsby, which seemed to witness many of the important events of this great American novel. Well, in Casper, Wyoming, you can view a house that has one large eye on the front of it, which makes me think of poor ol’ Gatsby, and one of my favorite reads of all time. This attraction is popular enough to where school buses full of kids will drive by it to get a look-see, which has been done throughout the school year since at least the early 1980’s. This is according to Jack O’Herra. He’s the father and co-builder of this eclectic house along with his recently deceased son Teddy (the last owner of the house as of this writing). Teddy was actually the architect and designer of both the house and the eye. It was completed more than 35 years ago in Casper, Wyoming. O’Herra told me that at night, when this eye is lighted up, people who drive by it have reported the sensation of this lighted eye following them!

The Seeing Eye House (private residence): 1033 N. Kimball, Casper, Wyoming 82601. Free to look at and take pictures from the sidewalk or street in a courteous manner.

Wyoming Veteran’s Memorial Museum: Honoring The Troops!

Joye Kading is one incredible Casper woman. She was a part of making things more bearable for our troops during the Second World War who were stationed in Casper, Wyoming. B17 and B24 bombing crews were trained there, starting in late 1942. Kading is loaded with an arsenal of knowledge and stories about America’s involvement in past wars, and will gladly tell you about any or all the incredible exhibits at this former Servicemen’s Club.

The soldiers stationed in Casper painted some 15 really beautiful wall murals on Celotex plaster board that detail Wyoming’s history from the time the Indians dominated the land until well into the 1900’s. The murals make up the collective “History of Wyoming” namesake. No paint was available, so the enlisted men turned artists had to use products like red soil with a fixative to create these beautiful works.

Kading stated that close to 6,900 war artifacts, uniforms, swords, model planes, guns, etc., have been donated to the museum for showing at different times of the year. While I was there, much of the focus was on the first two World Wars, but some exhibits honored the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, the Korean War, and even our current war in Iraq (including a set of “Most Wanted” playing cards that feature pictures of Saddam’s buddies, most of whom have been captured and/or killed). World War II is my one of my favorite periods of American history, and I was impressed with the collection from that period of time.

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Some of my favorite pieces currently on display at this Casper area veteran’s war museum include a Japanese propaganda leaflet that was dropped on American troops in February 1945, and a pair of dog tags from World War I that are circular (I had only seen more modern ones on tv and film which appear to be longer like sausages). Did you know that the troops in World War II were issued rather short Camel cigarettes, and that each pack only contained four? That certainly surprised me about the size and quantity. You’ll even find a number of artifacts like knives, uniforms, and flags on display that are from former enemies like the Third Reich and the Japanese Imperial Forces.

Wyoming Veteran’s Memorial Museum: Roughly nine miles northwest of downtown Casper on the Natrona County International Airport’s grounds at 3740 Jourgensen, Casper, Wyoming 82604. 307-472-1857.

Wanna Know The Time? Don’t Ask the Parking Garage!

Another of Casper’s oddities lies in an alleyway. The well stocked Western attire- themed store in the heart of downtown Casper, called Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters, has a large clock that once boldly proclaimed the time in a proud manner to those who were in the downtown area; that is, until a parking garage was built many many years ago across the alleyway. The clock is now slowly dying of a broken heart, for lack of usefulness. For city oddity lovers, this is one easy attraction to see because of its central downtown location.

The Clock Nobody Sees (‘Cept The Sanitation Department): In the alleyway behind Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters at: 125 E. 2nd St., Casper, Wyoming 82601. Free to look at, but your trash donations to the alley dumpsters help keep the city clean!

Salt Creek Oil Museum: Fulfillment of a Life Long Dream

The oil boom of Casper began when the black gold was discovered in the Salt Creek Fields in 1889, which led to the first of Natrona County’s and Casper’s oil booms. The small town of Midwest (roughly 45 miles north of Casper) happened to be in the midst of the Salt Creek oil fields, and came into being to serve as an oil transporting center to the refinery facilities back in Casper. Midwest also hosted the first night football game in America using electric lights in 1925. Pauline Schultz, a Midwest resident, had this dream, starting back in 1934, to chronicle the history of Midwest and the local oil boom in the Salt Creek area, which has seen more than six million people work in these oil fields up to the present day.

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So she began to collect newspaper clippings, photos, artifacts of all kinds and shapes, hoping one day to see this oil rich area be given its due honor. It would take 60 years until she could see her collection showcased in a museum, which also features good old fashioned Americana to complement the Salt Creek area’s historical items. I would make a conservative estimate that tens of thousands of items are housed in this museum.

Permanent exhibit rooms feature a school room, an x-ray room, and even a doctor’s office, which is actually named the Lynne Cheney Room. The current Vice President’s wife has family roots from the Midwest area (as well as Casper, Wyoming), and even made a two hour visit a few years back. I discovered some really dated crude oil samples near the entrance of the museum, and was particularly tickled pink to see a 1931 Kellogg’s Wheel of Knowledge (of) Interesting Facts About The United States. The wheel tells us that the population then was under 123 million at the time and consisted of just 48 states. Being an avid runner, I was impressed with the 1937 Midwest High School track sweater. Because many small towns like Midwest revolve around the doings of their local high school teams, a vast collection of Midwest High School trophies, articles, and other items abound!

The Salt Creek Oil Fields also contain the Infamous Teapot Dome area, where one of the most notable Presidential scandals evolved during the early 1900’s in the Harding Administration. One book is on display at this Midwest museum that can even be picked up and browsed. It’s called “The Origins of Teapot Dome (published in 1963)”. Ms. Schultz even has her own published book of religious devotionals on display just as you enter the museum.

Salt Creek Oil Museum: Roughly 45 miles north of downtown Casper at 531 Peak Street, Midwest, Wyoming 82643. 307-437-6513.