The museum, named after 2nd Lieutenant Caspar Collins of the 11th Ohio Cavalry, is located at the site of the old reconstructed fort that served the Cavalry in the 1860s.
Titled “Troopers: Celebrating 60 years of the Troopers Drum & Bugle Corps,” the display takes up almost two rooms and parts of connecting hallways, covering the corps’ history from its founding. While the Troopers’ anniversary will be celebrated next year, the museum had an opening for the exhibit, which will run through October of 2018.
A plethora of Troopers memorabilia is featured within nine display cases and numerous wall hangings. Included in the exhibit are old color guard uniforms from each decade of the corps’ history through the current day, in addition to other uniform examples of the “corps proper.”
Also included are a collection of trophies, old championship flags, various color guard flags, posters, and corps souvenirs. Individuals also provided photos of members, instructors, and volunteers, Troopers Hall of Fame plaques, paintings, medals, buttons, personal contest programs, scrapbooks, and an assortment of notes.
Shown on a recurring loop is a 17-minute video of excerpts from seven of the corps’ performances over the decades, starting with a 1967 halftime show at the Dallas Cotton Bowl. The video overlooks the historic items, which also include a rope-tensioned snare drum and bugles from the early 1960s through the current day.
“In collecting items for the exhibit, we put out word that the corps needed additional items we didn’t have at our headquarters, and we received an unbelievable amount of memorabilia from around the country,” Troopers corps director Fred Morris said. He noted that a number of those items came from former drum majors Jim McIntrye (1961-1971), John Masterson (1979-1981), Mat Krum (1992-1993), and Michael Gough (2003-2004).
In preparation of opening the exhibit, Michelle Bahe, the museum’s curator of education, spent several days at the Troopers’ headquarters going through all the items donated by individuals with Morris and others. “Opening up each box was kind of like Christmas,” she said.
Utilized for exhibit research were scrapbooks kept by corps founder and longtime director Jim Jones and his wife, Grace. Their keepsakes included memorabilia from the corps’ first show in Riverton, Wyoming at the 1958 American Legion State Convention. The Joneses put into the scrapbook every photo they could find that was taken of the corps. Their efforts provided a big help in coordinating and identifying the years of the items on display.
The exhibit officially opened to the public on April 4, following an April 1 showing exclusively for corps and museum donors. At that event, Morris served as a keynote speaker to talk to patrons about the current corps.
Morris is well aware what the Troopers mean to the City of Casper. “Troopers are an institution in this city,” he said. “Many newer people in town aren’t as familiar with the corps, and so this exhibit is a great history lesson.”
In celebration of the exhibit, “Troopers Week” will take place in Casper this summer. On July 11, the corps will perform at the Central Wyoming Fair and PRCA Rodeo Parade, followed by a performance at Fort Caspar the following day. On July 13, the corps will open the Thursday night rodeo, and on July 14 Troopers will host the Drums Along the Rockies: Casper Edition DCI Tour event, which will also bring the Bluecoats, Mandarins, Oregon Crusaders and Seattle Cascades to town.
Michelle Bahe sums up what it was like to curate the exhibit: “It’s been lots of fun to research, just to see the history and evolution of drum corps in general and especially drum corps in Casper. The Troopers are very much a part of this community, and the community is very proud of them.”
Photos courtesy Troopers.