Sky Valley Historical Society president Iris Jensen seems to have a story for each of the hundreds of interesting objects set up in the Sultan Historical Museum. Most she tells with hearty enthusiasm.
While Jensen walks from one exhibit to the next, an item will jog an old or recent memory. Standing before a case of worn dolls and other trinkets, Jensen said a kid she toured told her they had a hard time imagining the luxury of playing with toys that weren’t battery operated.
In front of the three wooden, sun-faded chairs from the town’s first theater, Jensen remembers the racket made when the antiques were hammered out of a dusty closet space years ago. Pointing out the birdhouse covered in a broken beehive, which inexplicably fell from where it hung from a ceiling, she laughs and says, “It’s double occupancy, as I always say.”
Jensen is one of the society’s many members whose enthusiasm for preserving local relics has kept growing along with the volume of the museum’s contents over the years. The first meetings were held out of different homes in the 1960s. Now, the two rooms located above the Sultan Post Office are basically at capacity.
Hundreds of people have donated or loaned memorabilia to the museum, Jensen said. Prominently displayed are a human-sized coffee grinder and traditional wedding gowns from ceremonies held ages ago.
Recently, the historical society was gifted a laptop by resident Jana Yarbrough. It now stores an exhaustive index of who has given, where the items are from, and when donations were received. Jensen said storage is so full, only pieces with roots in the Sky Valley will be accepted from now on. Despite some clutter, she said she is excited about the fact that the museum continues to expand.
Members of the historical society are now looking to replace the wheelchair lift that carries patrons up to the museum. They hope a grant will help fund it.
The city of Sultan owns the building, so it will be submitting applications. Sultan resident and historical society member Joyce Wolter said the mechanism has been out of commission for nearly a year.
“There were not too many people that needed it, but there were people who did, and you hate to leave anybody out,” she said.
Wolter became involved in the volunteer-driven group about three years ago, but has always had a fascination for local history. She said Sultan specifically has stood out for its logging and agriculture industries.
“To me, you know, you’ve got to know your background to know where you’re at,” she said.
Jensen said the piles and loads of tools for retrieving timber make up one of the most extensive collections she is aware of in the region. Although, she said, they would do better with more signage and organization, which is one of her next projects.
This year Jensen said the Double Quilt Raffle will run up until Dec. 19, when two vintage blankets are drawn for. There is one hand-stitched pinwheel-style quilt made from materials used in the 1930s, and a “crazy quilt” from around the 1940s, distinct for its wild color scheme, she said.
“It will for sure match anyone’s décor,” she said.
For their efforts, the all-volunteer historical society was recognized Thursday by the Sultan City Council as the Volunteer Spotlight organization for the month of March.
Tickets for the raffle can be purchased for $1. Proceeds will go toward funding the new wheelchair lift. The museum is open 1-4 p.m. the first and third Tuesday of each month, and the third Saturday. The historical society gathers at 1 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month.