Past the local railroad history and the antique toys, patrons can feast their eyes on everything from medals and patches to uniforms and helmets to weapons galore. For about two months museum visitors have the opportunity to get a sense of the history of the military.
"There's quite a big military presence in Nevada so we thought having this exhibit would be especially cool for them," office manager Anthea Humphreys said.
The military exhibit not only features relics from the United States but also from the other Allied forces, Japan and Nazi Germany. The Japanese Nambu Type 14 pistol, used until Japan’s surrender in 1945, and America’s M1 Garand rifle are two of the several guns on display.
Aside from weapons, propaganda posters encouraging Americans to buy war bonds “every payday” and an old Life magazine from 1942 featuring an American soldier on its cover also grace the walls of the exhibit.
But the exhibit isn’t limited to World War II memorabilia. It also features items that date to the 1800s. Patrons visiting the museum can see war evolve from the 19th century to both World Wars to the present day.
For a local touch, the exhibit features a Nevada National Guard uniform used from 1883 to 1903. The story of the Spirit of Sparks also graces the exhibit. According to the display, the Spirit of Sparks was a B-25J North American Mitchell Bomber. Sparks citizens donated both their time and money to raise more than $600,000 to purchase the aircraft for the U.S. Army Air Corps. The Spirit of Sparks flew in about 150 combat missions over Italy and southern Europe until being scrapped in Italy at the end of World War II.
A painting of the Spirit of Sparks by Robert Schweitz, who flew 69 missions in the aircraft during the invasion of Italy in 1944 and 1945, is also on display along with a model and photos of the plane so patrons can see just what it looked like.
Nearly 30 photographs of current servicemen and women hang in the exhibit, as well. Humphreys said this part of the exhibit will be permanent and all military personnel are encouraged to drop off a photo so it too can be hung.
Most of the items in the exhibit are from the private collection of two of the museum’s volunteers, Humphreys said.
Sparks Heritage Museum is at 814 Victorian Avenue. Entrance costs $3 for adults, and is free for children 12 and younger and military personnel in uniform. For more information call 355-1144.