The museum is located in Hailey in the Gem State of Idaho. It was established in August, 1962, to “discover, procure and maintain whatever may relate to the history of Blaine County.”
The museum is housed in a building built in 1882 and donated to the City of Hailey by the pioneering Friedman family for the purpose of establishing a museum. Originally an adobe structure, the building has been extensively remodeled and refurbished although a portion of an external adobe wall can still be seen behind protective glass. Through the years the building has been a liquor store, a movie house, and a Knights of Labor hall as well as other enterprises. During the Spanish-American War it served as an armory.
Blaine County has experienced a rich and colorful history. The Shoshoni and Bannock tribes hunted in the area. In 1824, Alexander Ross and his expedition were the first Caucasians to arrive in the Wood River Valley, followed by miners and ranchers. In the early 1880s, there developed a new prosperity and the towns of Bellevue, Hailey, and Ketchum and many other small communities emerged. Mining claims were filed, freight lines established, newspapers printed, farms and ranches settled, casinos and brothels frequented, banks chartered, churches and schools built. In 1883 the Oregon Short Line Railroad was extended to the Wood River Valley. Although mining and its supporting businesses eventually subsided and the population dwindled, the valley eventually diversified its economic base through ranching and later skiing and tourism. Today it attracts people from all over the world who are fascinated by its unique history, world-class scenery, recreational opportunities, and cultural activities.
At the Blaine County Historical Museum visitors can explore the Wood River Valley’s pioneer past, research family histories, and view vignettes of mines, schools, ranches, famous literary personalities, period fashions, and political memorabilia. Each display shows aspects of the life that early inhabitants and pioneers experienced.