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Native American hunts bison.

Wax Jim Bridger: Wind River Heritage Center

Field review by the editors.

Riverton, Wyoming

We love wax museums and taxidermy collections, so when a museum puts both under one roof, we assume they have us in mind. The Wind River Heritage Center is actually comprised of two separate but adjacent exhibit galleries. It started with the extensive taxidermy collection of Jake Korell, a trapper who donated it for permanent display. The museum exhibits 62 of his mounts, all Wyoming wildlife, along with a trapper cabin and a homesteader cabin. Up until 2013, when Korrell passed away at the age of 99, you might have found him on site and eager to answer questions.

Frontiersman Jim Bridger.
Frontiersman Jim Bridger.

The wax museum came second, moved from Thermopolis after the attraction closed in 2009 (and before that, the wax figures had been an attraction in Jackson Hole). The figures are arranged in regionally relevant history dioramas. Wax Lewis and Clark, Teddy Roosevelt, and Thomas Edison are on the role model end of the spectrum. On the other end you'll find murderess Ellen Watson standing next to her execution noose, and Big Nose George being autopsied (the figure under the sheet sports a spare Richard Nixon head).

A haggard version of Jim Bridger depicts the frontiersman decades after his unfortunate incident with Hugh Glass and the grizzly bear. Though Bridger redeemed himself in subsequent exploits, he is said to have felt remorse for the abandonment of the grievously injured Glass.

We're hoping the Wind River Heritage Center will seriously consider our suggestion to move Jake Korell's mounted grizzly bear into the background of the Jim Bridger display. Fans of The Revenant -- take note.

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Also see: Men Vs. Bears

Wax Jim Bridger: Wind River Heritage Center

Wind River Heritage Center

1075 S. Federal, Riverton, WY
US Hwy 26, south end of town, across from the county fairgrounds. Displays in two attached buildings.
M-Sa 10-4 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
$5/person, $10/family, under 12 free.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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