The Rollo Jamison Museum is located in the city of Platteville. The museum is dedicated to the residents of Platteville and southwest Wisconsin.
Rollo Jamison was born in 1899 in the small town of Beetown, Wisconsin. Rollo was a collector from a very young age. He started his collecting around his family farm. His target of interest initially was Indian arrowheads. He developed an interest in history and in things used by people in pursuit of their everyday lifestyles. His focus was primarily items used by residents of southwest Wisconsin. It did not take long for his collection to grow to an enormous size and variety. A tour of the Rollo Jamison Museum will take you back in time to witness what life was like in Platteville and other areas of southwest Wisconsin at the beginning of the 20th century.
Jamison was an interesting character. He left school when he was in the 4th grade to help support his family. He held a variety of jobs, but he could never get over his love of collecting things. He had a girlfriend, but when faced with the choice of getting married or continuing his collecting endeavors, he opted for the latter. At one point he opened an auto repair shop and maintained it for approximately 20 years. Eventually, he opened a tavern and began filling it with various collectables and talking about the history of southwest Wisconsin with whoever would listen. He began recording oral history interviews in 1947. Sometime in the early 1950's he sold his tavern and began building his museum. Unfortunately, he did not have the funding or support necessary to complete his dream. After much hard work and the formation of the Jamison Museum Association his lifelong collection was moved to Platteville. The museum officially opened in June, 1981. Rollo Jamison died 2 months later after witnessing his dream coming true.
As a side note, the Rollo Jamison Museum is located right next door to The Mining Museum. This museum teaches the visitor how zinc and lead were mined in the 1800's. Daily tours of the underground exhibit are conducted to show how miners were able to collect the lead ore. Weather permitting; you can take a ride in an ore car pulled along by the museum's 1931 Whitcomb 5-ton mine locomotive. If you plan on taking the mine tour you will need to wear comfortable shoes and bring along a light jacket to ward off the underground chill. Be prepared to do a little exercise, because the trip down to the mine requires the visitor to climb about 90 steps. The main exhibits in the Mining Museum building are handicapped accessible.
The price of admission covers the tours of both the Rollo Jamison and The Mining Museums.
In addition to being a museum of local history of southwest Wisconsin, the museum hosts a number of special events throughout the year. The Winter Toy Train Exhibit, the annual Christmas exhibit, and the Jamison Museum Association Annual Meeting and Program all serve to help link visitors to the past and see a glimpse of what life was like in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
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