Pyote Museum in Peril

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

PYOTE - The Pyote Rattlesnake Bomber Base Museum has for decades held the heritage of the nearby bomber base. The base's history in World War II, how it once held the Enola Gay and the entrance made by German Prisoners of War, are all contained within the museum's walls.

But now those walls are beginning to crumble, and for the last six years, Ward County citizens and officials have been trying to solve the problem.

Now they believe they have a plan.

"The thing that we are trying to do the most right now is to preserve the artifacts, and that's bottom-line," Teresa Burnett, Director of the Monahans Chamber of Commerce, said.

Too many years have worn down this museum. NewsWest 9 was told the electricity doesn't work at times and even parts of the roof are starting to cave in.

Ward County officials said now they need to get the pieces of history out before they're lost.

So far the county has tried getting the money together to build a new museum by the base to house the artifacts but the money just hasn't come together.

There's been no success applying for federal grants either.

"Pyote is a small community," Burnett said. "Even though we have probably one of the best collections of World War II artifacts in our museum, we still don't have some of the things that we have to have to qualify for big funding to help us out."

At a Ward County Commissioners meeting last Monday, a public hearing was held to unveil a new plan for the museum.

Ward County Judge Greg Holly E-mailed his proposal to NewsWest 9 and spoke with us about it.

"Lots of history out there," Holly said. "Lots of emotion associated with that area, certainly for folks who live in that area and folks who served on that base."

The proposal will take all the artifacts and place them with the Million Barrel Museum in nearby Monahans and having the county assume control of its funding.

Portions of exhibits will also be placed in the Pyote safety rest area that TXDOT just broke ground on at the beginning of March.

"This gives us an opportunity to do some of each," Holly said. "It's really important to us, that number one, to preserve the artifacts that are there and to make them available for the public to see them."

Another public hearing is scheduled at the next Commissioners meeting at the end of May.

The decision on the museum will be made this Summer.