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Midvale Journal

A step back in time: Midvale Historical Society celebrates 40th anniversary

Jul 25, 2017 04:52PM ● By Ruth Hendricks

Museum display of antique sewing machines and handcrafted items. (Ruth Hendricks/City Journals)

The Midvale Historical Society celebrated its 40th anniversary on Saturday, June 17 at the museum at 7697 South on historic Main Street (700 W.) in Midvale.  

Members of the Utah Treasures Association came about a week before and buried some items in the ground behind the museum. Volunteers from the association helped visitors use metal detectors to look for the hidden objects. Guests were able to keep what treasures they found, which were mostly coins.

Bill Miller, president of the Historical Society, was pleased with the turnout for the event. “We’ve had a good crowd throughout the day,” said Miller.

Inside the museum, families toured the exhibits. Kids enjoyed trying to type on an old typewriter. “It’s cool,” said Daverra Stewart. Her brother also tried it out, but it was difficult to press the keys.

Among the exhibits in the small museum is the military uniform of Jimmy Martinez, which symbolizes a tragic story. Martinez and two of his friends, LeRoy Tafoya and Tom Gonzales, grew up together in Midvale.

“They were three best friends, they lived close to each other, went to school together, were the same age,” said Miller. All three young men went to serve in the Vietnam War, and in late 1967, within a span of 16 days, all three were killed in combat in different locations.

The uniform had been displayed in the home of Martinez’s parents. “This is the uniform they sent home from Vietnam. The dad took a bookcase and made it into a memorial,” said Miller. The uniform resided there in the home for almost 50 years. When the mother and father passed away, the family decided to donate the uniform to the museum.

“It was an awesome experience when we picked that thing up,” said Miller. Now tattered and with holes in places, Miller has been trying to get the uniform restored, but so far has been unable to find someone who can do the specialized job.

Another exhibit honors one of Midvale’s famous residents, astronaut Don Lind. Lind attended Midvale Elementary School, graduated from Jordan High School and received a bachelor of science degree with high honors in physics from the University of Utah. Lind went on to earn other degrees including a Ph.D.

Lind waited 19 years to finally get his turn to break the boundaries of the earth, longer than any other continuously serving American astronaut. From April 29 to May 6, 1985, Lind flew on the Space Shuttle Challenger to conduct a scientific mission called Spacelab 3. After completing 110 orbits, Lind returned safely to earth.

The museum’s display for Lind features photos, newspaper articles, and patches Lind earned from NASA.

On the more domestic side, the museum displays several antique sewing machines along with quilts, clothing, sewing patterns, and even an antique spinning wheel.

The museum has yearbooks from the local schools, historical photographs and other books dealing with Midvale history. The mining roots of the city are prominently featured.

Miller and the other volunteers who keep the museum going hope to celebrate many more years of history in Midvale.

Admission to the museum is free. It is open from noon to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Private tours are available during off hours by calling the museum at (801)569-8040 during regular hours to schedule an appointment, or email Miller at [email protected]