LAKEVIEW, Ore. - A
collection of antique arcade and sideshow attractions displayed as
the Jones Fantastic Museum at the Seattle World's Fair in 1962 was
greeted as the beginning of a new tourist economy for this town of
2,700 in eastern Oregon's high desert country.
A convoy of 30 trucks
driven by volunteers traveled to Seattle over the weekend to pick
up the collection, including a 9-foot-tall mummified Viking, and
to bring it to Hunter's Hot Springs Resort.
Jim Schmit, a former
Californian who got the idea for the museum, got tears in his eyes
when he saw the people from this small ranching and logging town
waiting to unload the convoy of semis and pickup trucks.
"I've never seen people
who were so happy to do something." Schmit said after he was
greeted by cheers from about 40 people who waited through the
afternoon at Hunter's Hot Springs Resort. "I guess I've just
been around the big city too much. This just overwhelmed
"Lakeview's a friendly
place and if somebody needs something, they are there to help,"
said pharmacist Jim Howard. "The ceiling on my pharmacy fell
in last winter and there was a group of people just like this
working all day to help me."
Schmit, a former Lake
Tahoe, Calif., recreational property developer moved to Lakeview
two years ago after deciding it fit his vision of the perfect
small town in America.
Schmit estimated it would
have cost $25,000 to hire professional movers to carry the museum.
Even with the convoy, he said some of the collection was left
behind and will be picked up later.
Schmit and partner Ralph
Bothne, a Baltimore businessman, bought the museum from the
Children's Hospital in Seattle, which had been given the
collection. The collection has been in storage since 1973.
Plans call for the
Fantastic Museum and the rest of Schmit's collection to go on
display this spring at Hunter's Hot Springs Resort, a mineral
springs spa built in 1924 that includes a manmade geyser named Old
Schmit sees the museum as
helping Lakeview become a place people go, rather than somewhere
they stop on the way to Reno, Nev. for the gambling.
"If these people are half
as enthusiastic in promoting tourism as they have been in helping
me, it's got to be a success," Schmit said.