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Rich with History: Upton’s Red Onion Museum is a cultural attraction

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The Red Onion Museum in Upton offers a peak into the city’s rich history and is part of the Weston County Museum District, a nonprofit organization operating two local museums.

The Weston County Museum District serves as a depository and provides professional conservator care of the artifacts of Weston County, while maintaining and creating historical exhibits, which are a significant part of Weston County history.

The Weston County Museum District sold the home of the Red Onion Museum to purchase a large site in June 2023, and the newly renovated Red Onion Museum was relocated to Old Town, which is open daily and free of charge.

The museum hosts several events each year, including living history days, an old-fashioned bike tour featuring old motorcycles and several coffee events targeting different interests in the community. 

Red Onion Museum District Director Cindy Dysart states, “We offer wonderful events, and one special event is Pioneering on the Patio, which teaches lost skills of the past, such as wool spinning, making jerky, making biscuits in a Dutch oven and foraging for wild foods.”

A story waiting

to be discovered

The mission of the Red Onion Museum is to preserve the area’s rich history and educate the public about the historical past of Upton, Weston County and the state of Wyoming.

Walter “Jarbo” Poulson brought fame to the name “Red Onion” in the Upton community when he opened the Red Onion Saloon, which operated for several years before the Prohibition. 

When the Prohibition resulted in the closure of the Red Onion Saloon, Poulson moved his business to the Red Onion Ranch.

The Red Onion Museum was reorganized in 1996, and the historic name was again put to use when the museum moved to Old Town.

“The new location provides great foot traffic for the museum and enough room for the exhibits and parking,” Cindy remarks. “The Red Onion Museum has many different artifacts collected over the years, and the artifacts and collections at the museum put visitors in touch with lifestyles and ways of life from previous years in Upton.” 

The museum’s exhibits depict the lives of early settlers in the region, the history of Upton and surrounding areas, Native American artifacts and arrowhead collection and features artwork by local artists.

At the Red Onion Museum, numerous items are on display, like an original switchboard, which was brought in when telephones were introduced in Upton.

“Additional items on display are a hand-drawn map of Upton, an old-time piano and several old cavalry saddles,” Cindy notes.

“The Red Onion Museum’s exhibits share the story of life in Wyoming for pioneer women and the great lengths they went to in order to care for their families,” she adds.

Upton history

comes alive in Old Town

“Upton is a small-town community where people pull together to support each other,” Cindy shares. “The Red Onion Museum reflects our local history, which showcases how resourceful people were back then, just as they are today.”

Old Town represents life in the region over 100 years ago, as it supports a collection of old homesteads and buildings which have been relocated to Upton from around northeast Wyoming.

The preserved buildings and local stockyard were essential to the area’s development in the late 1800s and the old Irontown settlement.

“A significant draw to the museum is the collection of wagons from the era – sheep wagons, covered wagons, buggies and more,” Cindy explains. 

Visitors can also tour Old Town cabins, log houses, Upton’s old fire hall and water tank, barns, corrals, a blacksmith shop and more.

Cindy concludes, “Old Town is a favorite backdrop for wedding and graduation pictures, and groups decorate the wagons with their unique Christmas decorations.”

For more information on the Red Onion Museum, visit

Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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