In the 1960ís, a museum was started in Yahk, known at various times as the Olde Town Museum or the Yahk Pioneer Park Museum. Artifacts from all over the area, including the Creston Valley, were purchased, donated, or loaned to the Yahk Museum. Three separate groups owned this museum in succession; the third went bankrupt in 1979, and the entire collection was to be sold at auction.
Fearing that the areaís history would be scattered across North America in private collections, the Creston & District Historical & Museum Society, established in 1971, stepped in to stop the sale. With legal counsel, a court injunction was obtained and delivered to the trustees of the auction mere minutes before it was to start. The Historical Society then purchased the collection.
The collection was housed in an old potato shed until a building could be purchased for use as a museum. Before this could happen, however, the shed was sold and the collection had to be moved again, this time to a partially-open shed in Canyon, a small community near Creston. Finally, the Historical Society was able to buy the Stone House, a unique building, just outside of the downtown area. Considerable work was required to ready the house for the artifacts, but the bulk of them were moved in early in 1982. The museum opened to the public that summer. Since 1979, artifacts have been donated directly to the Historical Society to supplement the Yahk collection, which currently makes up about 50% of the entire collection.
In 1986, a storage building was constructed on the Museumís grounds to house the growing collection. In 1994, the Archives, established by the Historical Society in 1971, was moved into an office area in the storage building, as its previous home at Town Hall was becoming far too crowded. In 1995, a shed was built along the southern edge of the property to protect some of the larger artifacts from the weather. The museum expanded again in March, 1999, when construction began on a new workshop/storage building, called the Carr Building after Bertel Carr, whose legacy enabled the Historical Society to build it. This structure is used for a wide range of activities, from construction of exhibits to Historical Society and other community group meetings.
In 1989, a small trapperís cabin, now considered an historic building, was moved to the Museum grounds. In 1995, the Kingsgate Schoolhouse, which dates from about 1913, was moved there as well. Both have been restored and now house displays.
Residents of the area made the museum possible by supporting the Historical Societyís fundraisers, which included everything from meat and wood raffles, bingos, donations, and garage sales to the Pony Express Ride of 1981. Historical Society volunteers on horseback raced the Post Office, using trucks, to see who could deliver a letter from Cranbrook to Creston fastest. The Pony Express won. The Own-A-Stone campaign has also been a successful fund-raiser for the historical Society. For $100, donors can have a memorial plaque placed on the stone of their choice on the Museumís walls.
The bingo hall that had supported the Museum for years closed in 1996, forcing the Historical Society to look for other sources of funding. After much campaigning, the Historical Society gained public support through taxes, the result of winning a referendum in April, 1997. This has made it possible to keep the museum open, and to launch a variety of outreach programs as well. However, the Historical Society still depends on revenues from admission fees, membership sales, donations, and grants.