The world-famous Heard Museum in Phoenix has about 130,000 square feet of space. Then there’s the World’s Smallest Museum in Superior, which has about 130.
It’s no longer really the smallest in the world, if it ever was, but drive by on U.S. Highway 60 and you could miss it. If you notice the sign that says “Buckboard City Cafe, Home of the World’s Smallest Museum,” and you decide to pull over and park, it could still take you a minute to find it.
The museum is inside a tiny shed at the edge of the dirt parking lot. It’s tucked between what looks like living quarters on the left and a pile of old mining equipment, tires (including possibly the biggest one you’ll ever see), rocks and vegetation on the right. The museum’s extreme gable-shaped roof is made of old aluminum cans, but you don’t notice it until you are really close.
When Pinal Ways visited around lunchtime on a Thursday in July, the museum was closed. A waitress at the Buckboard, whose owner, John Tameron, also owns the museum, said lighting and carpeting are being fixed. She unlocked it anyway and let us take a walk through.
Both sides of the shed have five sections, each about 3 feet wide and 6 1/2 feet tall, with displays behind glass.
One is the world’s largest Apache Tear good luck stone. According to legend, Apaches and U.S. Cavalry members fought on the mountain overlooking Superior in the 1870s. Facing defeat, the Apaches rode their horses off the mountain to die rather than be killed by the Cavalry. The warriors’ wives cried when they heard of the tragedy, and their tears turned to stone when they hit the ground.
Other local and regional items include mining artifacts, an old saguaro cactus arm and old photographs of the area. A political section with presidential election pins prominently features Sens. John McCain and Barry Goldwater.
Other displays are more universal, including matchbox cars, an old typewriter, a 1984 Compaq desktop computer, a 1974 picture of Oprah Winfrey and a box of Almond Joy chocolate-covered coconuts with a 10-cent price tag. A music section has posters of Chuck Berry and The Beatles along with an ancient radio and vinyl phonograph records.
According to the Buckboard’s website, the museum was started in 1996 by Dan Wight and Jake Reaney, owners at the time, to get people to pull off the road and eat at their restaurant.
The museum is free of charge, although the donation box with a suggested donation of a dollar may return when it reopens. | PW