SEDGWICK — The Sedgwick Historical Museum looks very different than it did a few months ago.
Wooden sidewalks now lead from Commercial Street back to the door of a historic wooden Santa Fe train depot and connect it with the museum building.
"It's come a long ways," said Sedgwick Historical Society President Nancy Stahl "We've got a lot done."
The donation of the town's historic Santa Fe Railroad train depot, along with a coal shed and outhouse, gave the museum the space to move much of what was in their main building out to the depot.
"It's amazing what was in there," Stahl said.
Pictures, papers and other artifacts that had previously been shut up in cardboard boxes and plastic tubs are finally seeing the light of day.
"We had a lot boxed up that we didn't have room for," Stahl said. "It's nice because now we can spread out a little bit."
While the depot still lacks permanent electrical wiring and a heating and cooling system, volunteers like Rod Milne are undaunted in their quest to sort through the museum's collection of artifacts.
"We have no idea what the final shape of this is going to be," Milne said. "Right now, we're just getting everything out so we can see what we have and gradually organizing by theme."
Milne estimated the museum has already quadrupled its filing space, a resource that is essential to provide visitors with a way to find the information for which they are searching.
"We're making files by family surnames, business and buildings — separating all that stuff out so when people come in and say, 'do you remember when such-and-such cafe was here?' we can find it," Milne said.
"We didn't have a way to look it up before but now we're getting a little closer to that," Stahl said.
One of the museum's main priorities is to find records relating to local genealogies. The public is encouraged to bring copies of any records in to keep on file for others who may be looking for branches of their family tree.
The museum's current family records collection has already attracted visitors.
"Family members have come in and gone through their files to see things that they didn't know existed," Milne said.
Visitors also appreciate looking at the museum's collection of Sedgwick High School annuals, which date back to 1915. While the Sedgwick Historical Society has several dozen extra annuals for sale, it is also looking for some to complete its collection. Stahl said the museum is missing several annuals from the 1980s.
In sorting through its collection, museum volunteers have run across several items whose existence was unknown to them. Some — like a set of track medals — were easily traced back to their original owner. Other items are mysteries, having few or even conflicting details about their origins.
One set of newspaper clippings about the Sedgwick Theater caught Milne's eye. Before reading them, it had been thought that the Wick Theater was the only theater in town.
"No one even knew we had (another) theater," Milne said.
Another item that has the museum volunteers stymied is a hand-drawn map of Sedgwick. On each street, the names of residents are written in pencil and houses where people older than 60 years of age lived are marked in red. The purpose, date and creator of the map are unknown.
"You just have to go through one piece at a time," Milne said. "...it's a little treasure hunt that sends you off in all kinds of directions."
The depot now serves as a place to display items such as paintings, uniforms, tools and even a hand-beaded love token.
The Sedgwick Historical Society is looking for more railroad items to place in the depot, Stahl said, especially Santa Fe-related paraphernalia.
The Sedgwick Historical Museum, located at 523 N. Commercial Ave. in Sedgwick, is open by appointment and during varying hours on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call 316-772-5151 or visit the Sedgwick Historical Society Facebook page.