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Memories of movement

Museum gathering historical artifacts of air, rail travel in the Valley for new display

This spring, the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum will be taking to the skies and railways to celebrate the impact transportation has had on the region.

The museum’s latest exhibit, “On a Wing and a Prayer,” will open March 12 to tell the story of early aviation.

Jayne Singleton, director of the museum, said that during the early 20th century, the Spokane Valley was a hotbed for aviation. Felts Field was one of the first airports in the country to be licensed, and there were private airfields throughout the area.

Museum volunteers have been working hard to create the exhibit, which will take the place of an orchard exhibit being relocated. Volunteers are creating a façade painted to look like an airplane hangar.

There will be models of early aircraft and photos of the air races from Spokane to New York that took place in 1927.

The races brought 10,000 people to Felts Field, and even famed aviator Charles Lindbergh came to see them.

Women also played a part in Felts Field history. One of the items in the exhibit is a flight suit originally worn by Edith Bogert, a member of the all-female Silver Heels flying group. Women also took over the weather station at the airfield during World War II.

“I don’t want to give too much of it away,” Singleton said about the items displayed.

She added that the exhibit is still in need of items.

“We like the community to help with the exhibits,” she said.

Railroads also played a major role in Spokane Valley history. Singleton said trains made it possible for the many apple orchards to ship crops to different parts of the country.

The “All Aboard” exhibit will open sometime this spring, taking over the area of the museum vacated by the Apollo 11 exhibit.

Volunteer Will Mellick said a model train will start up when visitors enter the area. A whistle will sound and a conductor will call out, “All aboard.” There will be maps and a station master’s desk to make visitors feel they are in a real train station.

“All of our exhibits engage all of the senses,” Singleton said. Singleton said volunteers are important to the museum. They have been busy painting, setting up lighting and soundtracks and keeping the exhibits fresh to attract visitors.

She also said that it is important for the community to get involved and share their stories.

“If you have anything of historical significance that helps tell the story of the Valley, let us know,” she said.