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June 07, 2012 8:43 am

EDITORIAL: Help Willwood celebrate anniversary

Written by Ilene Olson

A museum exhibit and a bus tour this weekend celebrate the 85th anniversary of the Willwood Division, the third division of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Shoshone Irrigation Project.

The first Willwood land drawings took place in June 1927.

From those early roots, Willwood grew to be a tight-knit farming community where neighbors help neighbors. The sign listing all the families on the Willwood, located at the corner where the Willwood Highway turns, is the most obvious indication of that sense of camaraderie and neighborliness.

The Willwood community celebrates jointly each year with a community picnic, a tradition begun in 1928 by Anna Christopherson, wife of the Willwood’s first ditch rider, Marse Christopherson.

A visiting author with Northwest College’s writer’s series a couple of years ago was enchanted with the beauty and community of Willwood. She said she’d never heard of living “on” a location before, as one lives “on the Willwood.”

Much of that beauty is owed to one of Willwood’s first residents, Tula Murray, wife of Earl Murray, who led the “Willwood Beautification Project,” which helped all the settlers plant the hundreds of trees that now grow on what once was a sagebrush landscape.

The Homesteader Museum is observing the Willwood’s 85th anniversary with a new exhibit, “Where There’s A Will There’s A Willwood.” The opening reception is 4-7 p.m. Friday, June 8, with free admission.

Among other things, the exhibit includes a 1930s honey extractor from the Van Horn farm, a turn-of-the-century apple cider press from the Farwell family, a white cotton fabric wedding dress belonging to Anna Anderson and a Whistle Creek Club House bench.

In addition, a historic bus tour will take place Saturday, June 9, beginning at 8:45 a.m. at the Homesteader Museum. The tour will spend the morning and early afternoon touring the Willwood Dam site, West Willwood, East Willwood and Whistle Creek, with a bring-your-own lunch picnic stop at the Willwood Clubhouse-Irrigation District Building. Reservations are recommended.

At the closing of the exhibit, the museum plans to host a Willwood panel discussion in late August.

We encourage all of Powell to join the celebration by visiting the Homesteader exhibit and to recognize the contributions of Willwood residents to the Park County community.

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