(Thermopolis, Wyo.) — Wyoming’s prehistoric residents are getting a monolithic new home: a 70,000 square-foot, hands-on natural history museum in Thermopolis.
The Wyoming Dinosaur Center celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday alongside dignitaries from the region at the planned location, which will give the facility better visibility.
“They purchased the entire Thermopolis Business Park, about 20 acres,” Amanda Moeller of the Thermopolis-Hot Springs County Economic Development Company said. “They expect to be building a much larger facility than what they are in now.”
Currently, the Wyoming Dinosaur Center is tucked away on a hillside in town with “drive-by traffic at practically zero,” Moeller said.
“Where they will be located (after the expansion) will be just off the highway south of town, and their estimated drive-by traffic is over 3,000 per day,” Moeller said.
Thermopolis Mayor Michael Mortimore stood with Wyoming Dinosaur Center representatives during the groundbreaking, and county commissioners attended as well. Sen. Mike Enzi sent a letter, and around 50-60 community members came out to celebrate on Earth Day Saturday, Jessica Lippincott, Educational Director for the Wyoming Dinosaur Center said.
“There are quite a few people who are excited about this in town. Business owners are hoping for more tourism, and the economic benefit that this will bring,” Lippincott said.
Moeller said the facility will bring 10 new positions to Thermopolis, a community of around 4,000 people. However, the Wyoming Dinosaur Museum said the number of new positions would be more like 50.
“That is pretty significant. One of the outstanding things is that this will be a benefit to the entire region,” she said.
The new facility will be able to expand the museum’s existing educational opportunities, Lippincott said.
“This facility is going to be much better. The location will be great, and we are pretty excited,” she added.
Read more about economic development in Northwestern Wyoming in the May print edition of the Wyoming Business Report.