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Paul Flessland, Published February 02 2013

Cass County Museum set to open at Bonanzaville

WEST FARGO – A horse effigy made by Sitting Bull’s cousin and an 1830s vintage McCormick reaper are among the items housed at a new museum opening at Bonanzaville next week.

The grand opening of the Cass County Museum will kick off on Tuesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. A short reception will follow until 6 p.m.

“It’s an exciting addition for us,” said Julie Portillo, sales and marketing coordinator at Bonanzaville. “We’re moving forward.”

The museum, which has been in production since fall of 2009, will have three sections of exhibits from Cass and Clay counties and the greater North Dakota region.

The Native American section will feature artifacts from tribes throughout the region.

“We have a large Native American collection that is really on par with major metropolitan art museums throughout the country and around the world,” said Andrew Nielsen, curator of the museum.

One of the exhibits features a rare horse effigy created by No Two Horns, a cousin of Sitting Bull. No Two Horns made several of these horse effigies in the 1890s, but only five or six still remain.

The other two sections of the museum feature the homesteading of bonanza farms in North Dakota and the modernization of the Cass-Clay area. They include artifacts such as an 1830s McCormick reaper and a 1903 Ford Model A.

While the oldest man-made artifact may be the McCormick reaper, it’s nowhere near being the oldest artifact in the museum. That award goes to a 55-million-year-old fish fossil from Sentinel Butte.

“This fish just laid down and died on the bottom of a swamp, and now he’s here,” Nielsen said.

Patrons may remark on the unpredictable variety of the collections.

“People are always surprised by what we have out here,” Portillo said.

With the inauguration of the Cass County Museum and its rotating exhibit, Bonanzaville has attractions open year-round. The 12-acre museum operated by the Cass County Historical Society also features Pioneer Village, which is closed during the winter. It opens in May.

Entry to the museum and the rotating exhibit, “The Lincoln Effect: How the Presidency Changed the Man and the Land,” will be free Tuesday for the grand opening.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Paul Flessland at (701) 241-5502