Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Har-Ber Village Museum

Har-Ber Village Museum

Har-Ber Village Museum - located on the shore of beautiful Grand Lake in Grove, Oklahoma - is like a history museum on a walking trail that offers visitors a stroll back in time to life on the frontier. The seasonal museum is open from the 3rd Saturday in March through the 1st Sunday in November. The hours of operation are from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm on Thursdays through Mondays (closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays). Har-Ber Village charges the following admission fees based on the category you fall under:
  • Adults - $10
  • Students - $5
  • Seniors - $7.50
  • Military - $7.50
  • Children Under 6 - Free
Har-Ber Village has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. I can remember visiting the museum on field trips and family picnics. It is just a short drive from Tulsa, Northwest Arkansas, and Joplin. This place is definitely well worth your visit. In addition to visiting the museum, visitors can enjoy hiking on the Har-Ber Village Nature Trail next to Grand Lake.

Har-Ber Village

Har-Ber Village

Har-Ber Village was founded 50 years ago by its generous benefactors Harvey and Bernice Jones (owners of the Jones Trucking Company). My favorite thing about Har-Ber Village is that unlike most museums, this one is outdoors - and all of the exhibits are connected by a nice paved walking trail. You will definitely get a decent workout from all the walking. (Be sure to bring your walking shoes).

The museum features a collection of 19th Century structures that offer a glimpse into life on the frontier. Each building is an exhibit that contains priceless antiques and collectibles. For example, there is a bank, doctor's office, dentist, barber shop, church, and more than 100 others. It would be impossible for me to mention every exhibit. Instead, I am going to highlight my favorites.

Grand Lake

Grand Lake

If you are familiar with my blog, you know that I love water. The shoreline of Grand Lake creates a beautiful setting for Har-Ber Village in the foothills of the Ozarks. I love hearing the sound of the big waves hitting the rocky shore as I walk by the lake. I consider Grand Lake an exhibit that represents something vital to surviving life on the frontier: Water. Without water, homesteads and frontier towns died. Wars were even fought on the frontier over water rights. 

The waterwheel (pictured above) powered many gristmills before electricity. In fact, the Ozarks were home to many gristmills because of the region's abundant springs. 

19th Century-Style Buildings

Har-Ber Village Grand Lake

Har-Ber Village Museum contains dozens of 19th Century-style structures that were common in frontier towns. My great-grandfather was a blacksmith, so the blacksmith exhibit is one of my favorites. The old fashioned doctor's office makes me grateful for modern medicine lol. My great-grandmother and great-aunt both taught in one-room schools that were similar to the schoolhouse exhibit. Also, some of my ancestors were country preachers that would have preached in small congregations like the church exhibit. 

If you love antique China and vintage items, you are in luck. Many generous people have donated their family heirlooms to make Har-Ber Village an awesome history museum. I love viewing all of the old wood furniture and hand tools.

 Frontier Justice

Hanging Gallows
The Gallows' exhibit is definitely a bit creepy. However, the frontier was full of dangerous outlaws that robbed and killed many innocent people. Therefore, in order to tame the frontier, these outlaws had to be brought to justice. Hanging was the most common form of capital punishment throughout much of the 1800s into the early 1900s. These gallows were used by Judge Parker - known as the "hanging judge" - in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

I Found Myself in Jail

Speaking of frontier justice, I even found myself in the frontier jail. (This exhibit was actually from the original Springdale, Arkansas jail). As if being stuck in a frontier jail weren't bad enough, the iron ball chained to your ankle made escaping that much more difficult lol. Typically, frontier justice was pretty swift, so most outlaws didn't spend much time in jail.

Life in the Early 20th Century

Horseless Carriage
The dawn of the 20th Century marked an end to life on the frontier (in most places). The automobile represented a major change to transportation by replacing horse travel (which had been used for thousands of years). The last few exhibits at Har-Ber Village show life in the early 20th Century. I like the vintage tractors and farm equipment that show the beginning of modern farming. 

When you leave the museum, you can stop by the gift shop to browse souvenirs and pick out your favorite old fashioned candy. If you worked up an appetite from all that walking, you can visit the Har-Ber Village Cafe for a bite to eat. I like their ice cream!  

Har-Ber Village Nature Trail

If you enjoy hiking, check out the 2-mile Har-Ber Village Nature Trail located next to the museum's parking lot. The hiking trail is partially paved. It takes hikers through the hills and trees along the shore of Grand Lake. The hiking trail is free and open to the public 7-days a week year-round. There are also several picnic tables to enjoy a picnic lunch by the lake.

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