Pioneer Museum opens for the 2021 season

Photo by Charity Maness/Fall River County Herald-Star

A button display showing only a fraction of the museum’s 23,000 button collection, from Revolutionary war buttons to those made from bone and wood.


By Charity Maness

HOT SPRINGS – The Pioneer Museum located atop the hill at 300 N. Chicago Street in downtown Hot Springs has opened its door for the season.

The iconic stone building was built in the late 1800s as a schoolhouse for all grades. It operated in that capacity until 1961 at which time the Fall River Historical Society purchased the building and created the Pioneer Museum.

As you step through the massive wood doors of the museum you are immediately transported back in time to a time where the west was still young and the early pioneers were filled with tenacity, hopes and dreams.

Each classroom, once filled with the laughter of children, is now busting at the seams with a veritable smorgasbord of historical artifacts, paintings, maps, furnishings, buttons, sewing machines and more.

The Pioneer Museum prides itself on creating a new and exciting experience for all museum visitors whether you are new to the museum or a frequent visitor.

“Every time I come in I see something new,” said visitor and Hot Springs resident Rob Aavert. Aavert’s own father had been a student at the school when it was in operation and his mother Wanda has been a museum volunteer for more than 11 years.

To add a bit of family fun to the museum experience local seamstresses are working diligently on creating pioneer costumes for children to try on and wear in the remaining classroom at the museum. And for those interested in just how clothing was made in the early 20th century there is a Singer treadle sewing machine that can be operated with care in the sewing room. 

The latest addition to the museum can be found outside at the end of a graveled pathway; a collection of horse drawn farming implements from corn planters to tumbler plows, even a walking plow.

The fourth floor exhibit is still under construction and will host a display of local artisan’s crafts and artwork. The target date for opening this exhibit is July 2021.

The Pioneer Museum is open Monday through Saturday 9-5. For more information call 605-745-5147 during operating hours.

Fall River County Herald Star

EDGEMONT OFFICE: 410 2nd Avenue   Edgemont, SD 57735-0660 | 605.662.7201
HOT SPRINGS OFFICE: 334 S. Chicago St.  Hot Springs, SD 57747 | 605.745.3930
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