By Bill Sniffin
Members of Wyoming’s Legislature have recognized the owner/operators of the National Museum of Military Vehicles for their contributions to the state’s tourism industry.
The Legislature, in an informal joint resolution, praised Dan And Cynthia Starks for their work to open the museum south of Dubois.
The resolution recognizes the Starks for creating a tourist attraction that recognizes veterans.
The ribbon cutting for the museum was held Aug. 7.
The project cost $100 million and was self-funded by Starks and his family.
“The experience has been very gratifying,” Starks said. “We have had lots of tears, guests getting choked up, and lots of appreciation.”
He said: “We have 100 parking spaces in our lot and ran out of parking space!”
The 140,000 square foot complex holds more than 200 military vehicles with expansive exhibits which tell the stories of the military campaigns that featured these vehicles.
Starks sees the facility having three components:
To honor the service and sacrifice of millions of Americans.
Preserve the history of what happened during these wars.
Provide an educational experience.
The vast array of vehicles goes beyond the killing machines of tanks, artillery, and flamethrowers.
It also includes dozens of the machines that made the wars winnable.
Starks likes to discuss how the Red Ball Express helped secure the victories.
This was the supply chain that seemed to provide endless amounts of food, ammo, and war machines as Allied troops marched toward victory.
He wants to show how America was able to convert its massive manufacturing expertise to enable the Allies to fight two different wars in different parts of the world and win both in just three and a half years.
Near the middle of the building’s interior is an amazing vault, unlike anything west of the Smithsonian.
It will hold his $10 million collection of historical weapons, including a rifle fired at Custer’s Last Stand and a pistol used by General Pershing in World War I. The collection includes 270 Winchester rifles.
The vault has a safe door that would look just right at the national mint. The facility will have meeting rooms and members of the Wyoming legislature are convening there in October.
It also has the Chance Phelps Theatre, named for the brave Dubois Marine who died April 9, 2004 in Iraq. The movie Taking Chance was about that soldier.There is a large library with one of the world’s largest collections of manuals and other information about military vehicles.Admission is $15 for adults and free for all veterans. Under 18 is $10. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. It is located eight miles south of Dubois of U. S. Highways 287/26.
Face masks and social distancing are required of visitors.