Museum featuring geologic history opens in LaCrosse

Volunteers Jeff Andrus and Jeff Johnson stop for a photo during the restoration of the Rock Bunkhouse in LaCrosse.
Volunteers Jeff Andrus and Jeff Johnson stop for a photo during the restoration of the Rock Bunkhouse in LaCrosse.

The Ice Age Flood Museum in the historic Rock Bunkhouse will debut Saturday, June 22, during the LaCrosse Farmers Festival.

The museum, open from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., features an interpretive film, photographic displays and artifacts depicting the geographic history of the land and the people who have called it home.

"Remarkable People and a Remarkable Land: A World of Fire and Ice" is the 33-minute film that will loop at the museum. The film explores the ice age floods and massive lava flows that shaped the lands of western Whitman County, including nearby vertical cliffs and the rolling hills of the Palouse. The film also tells the story of the Palouse Indians and the arrival of mule packers, sheepherders and wheat farmers.

The geologic history is part of the story behind the rock building that houses the museum. The Rock Bunkhouse is one of a group of rock structures built by local businessman Clint Dobson in the mid-1930s, according to a news release. Dobson used basalt stones from the surrounding fields as an affordable building material during the Great Depression.

The entire group of structures was listed on Washington’s Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of Most Endangered Historic Places in 2015. The building was restored by LaCrosse Community Pride in 2017.

The opening is part of events taking place Friday through Sunday, June 21-23, at the festival. More information is available by calling (509) 549-3498.

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