Hope's Yellow Trail Museum is one of many gems tucked away in the quiet town of Hope just waiting to be discovered. Recently, museum volunteer Barb Johnson spoke about the establishment of the museum, what it offers visitors and residents, and the story it has to offer about this surprising little town's deep heritage. This month, Hope also introduced its Visitor Information Center, located at the same site. Together, the museum and visitor information center are poised to offer a range of history, unique stories, activities and intriguing facts about what makes Hope the community it is today.
What is the story behind the establishment of the Yellow Trail museum?
We need to go back to 1968. The local merchants planned the very first Hope Heritage Day - a one day event on a weekend when all the businesses would decorate their windows with antiques. So part of the day was walking around the square and looking at the antiques in the windows. In 1975 they were beginning to push projects for the nation's bicentennial and the merchants said, why don't we leave all these antiques in one spot and start a museum and so they did.
The head of the merchants' association at that time was Merrill Clouse who ran Clouse's IGA and had an empty upstairs in the building where we are now and so he allowed that space to be made into a museum. We started on the upstairs floor and now have about three times the space than when it first started.
What are some examples of the range of items you have?
We have thousands of artifacts in the museum. Nearly everything has a Hope connection. And we have things from cooking utensils, farm tools and woodworking tools to old fashioned desks and the Clouse wagon that brought a family here in 1839.
So what is the oldest item you have?
The oldest easily recognized item is the Clouse Wagon. It brought part of the Clouse family to Hope. As far as I know it is the first Clouse family who came to Hope from the Winston/Salem area of North Carolina because it was a closed Moravian economy for a while.
Given the diverse range of items you have, how do they tell the story of Hope
People realize Hope was at one time a location of lots of businesses and activity. It was quite a productive community for some time and it helps them to look back to see what was here in the past.
How many visitors pass through get each year?
Of those who sign our register we usually have around 2,500 visitors each year.
What are you offering at the Visitor Information Center?
We are getting our web site updated so we can list activities going on in Hope. We have our Facebook pages up and running which is something we haven't been very active with over the past couple of years. We have lots of brochures and we intend to keep a running list of activities each week. We feel like we need to push what Hope has, such as the only Moravian Church in the state. We are trying to help anyone who is coming through to spend as much time as they can in Hope and Bartholomew County.