Lawson’s Emu-Z-Um Media Articles

The Emu-Z-Um has had various articles published over the last few years. Those articles we have access to are provided below. A segment about the Emu-Z-Um, also appreared on KTVB television, but is no longer available on-line.

Some of the below articles have been reprinted in various newspapers throughout the Northwest.

IdahpPTV Idaho experience "Hidden Gems"

This program was originally aired in March of 2024. It features three "Hidden Gems" of Idaho. The Lawson's Legacy Museum is the the last of the three featured Gems and starts at time line 32:20.

For their work in creating the "Emu-Z-Um"
Jack & Belva Lawson receive the 2021
"Esto Perpetua" award from
the Idaho State Historical Society

The Esto Perpetua Award takes its name from the state’s motto, “let it be perpetual” and since 1999, the Idaho State Historical Society has annually recognized people and organizations who have preserved and promoted Idaho’s history.

A little piece of Owyhee heaven

By Karen Bresnahan
The Owyhee Avalanche - Homedale, Idaho

Published on May 7, 2014

A PDF file of the article can be downloaded at: Emu-Z-Um Avalanche Article

Lawson’s Emu-Z-Um offers distinctive look at history

Jack Lawson, co-owner of Lawson’s Emu-Z-Um, poses with a 1910 Rockaway Carriage that was used as an elite taxi. Jack Lawson, co-owner of Lawson’s Emu-Z-Um, poses with a 1910 Rockaway Carriage that was used as an elite taxi.

By Jordan Gray
Idaho Press-Tribune - Nampa, Idaho
Posted on Jun 1, 2014

GRAND VIEW — The collection started out as the piles of junk Jack Lawson would buy at the end of farm sales as a kid. According to Jack’s wife, Belva Lawson, the collection grew larger and more eclectic for more than 50 years.

Eighteen years ago, Lawson said the couple decided to take out what they kept in the sheds on their ranch property “just to see what we had.” What they had was the beginnings of Lawson’s Emu-Z-Um.

So named for the emus they once raised on their ranch, Lawson’s Emu-Z-Um has grown over the years.

“We opened it up to the public because people wanted to see it,” Lawson said. “We were just doing it for fun then, but then it grew into a business.”

What started as four rooms quickly grew to more than 50 rooms stuffed with artifacts. They include the Silver City Schoolhouse Museum, a 1950s room, a doll room, an 1860s Western town, a Native American room and a train station with running model trains. There’s also a reproduction of a silver mine, Silver City’s first hand-built automobile and plenty of antique machinery.

“Everybody tells us they’ve never seen anything like it,” Lawson said. “We never tried to do anything different. … You walk from building to building, so I guess that’s the unique part. You walk from building to building and go into something different every time.”

With the collection’s variety, it can be hard to pick a favorite. “I like every one of them,” Lawson said. “When we build a new building or set up a new room, I like it more than the others, and then we do it again and that’s my favorite.” Lawson said going through the Emu-Z-Um can take anywhere from two hours to more. “Most of the time we at least go with the people part of the time and show them where they’re supposed to go so they don’t miss something,” she said.

Because of the vast array of artifacts at the Emu-Z-Um, Lawson said if you’re looking for something in particular, you’ll likely find it. “(It’s) anything they want to see,” she said. “It’s a mixture of everything. If one room they don’t like, they’ll like the next one. ‘There’s something here for everyone’ is what we actually say.”

Marvels of Emu-Z-Um

Jack Lawson shows off the service station Jack Lawson shows off the service station display along the tour of the Emu-Z-um in Grand View, Idaho. He keeps a photo of himself at his father's service station in 1940 propped up on one of the old gas pumps. For Jack and Belva Lawson the museum is a labor of love. They will personally take you around to every display, which will take a couple hours and cheerfully answer any questions.
Kerry Maloney / Idaho Statesman

By Tim Woodward
Idaho Statesman - Boise, Idaho
Edition Date: 03/05/07

This article was reprinted in the Seattle Times on 03/23/07 and can be found at the following link: Idaho’s Emu-Z-Um | A few pet emus, a few thousand Old West artifacts

GRAND VIEW — When Jack and Belva Lawson began their Emu-Z-Um in a remote stretch of the Owyhee County desert, almost no one gave it a chance of amounting to much. Almost everyone was wrong about that.

Since publication of a Statesman story after the Emu-Z-Um's opening in 1998, the Lawsons have been conducting up to four tours a day and have exponentially expanded their offerings. Literally thousands of items are exhibited, from toys to sheep wagons to the former contents of the Silver City museum. A typical tour takes two hours. To see and appreciate everything properly would take days. "When we started, it was just a hobby," Belva Lawson said. "We like to collect things. We never thought people would come all the way out here in the middle of nowhere to see them."

They come at the rate of several thousand visitors a year to see the out-of-the-way museum's collection of Idaho oddments, Old West artifacts and other bits of Americana. The emus the Lawsons once raised commercially, and for which the museum was named, are down to just a few pets now. They're about the only things that haven't multiplied.

Bruneau rancher Tom Hall, a longtime Owyhee County Historical Society member and himself the owner of a ranching museum, calls the Emu-Z-Um "a masterpiece." "They have about everything you could think of — a whole raft of Silver City artifacts, Bruneau and Grand View artifacts, almost a whole town set up with a blacksmith shop, a barbershop," he said. "I don't know where to start." The collection started when Jack Lawson was a boy growing up in Owyhee County, where cows still outnumber people.

"We didn't have theaters or bowling alleys then," he said. "Collecting was my entertainment. I'd go out in the desert and pick up bottles and arrowheads." Belva liked to collect bowls and picture frames. The two became high school sweethearts when he was a Bruneau Bobcat and she was a Grand View Devil. They've been married 48 years. It was inevitable that their collections would merge. "It's hard to believe that all this stuff is the work of just two crazy people," Belva said, laughing.

The amount of "stuff" has grown so much that they built a new home overlooking the Snake River and use the old one for displays. They've built or brought in other buildings to display the rest.

"We never throw anything away," Belva said. "We just hang it on a wall." Refined from its early days, when parts of it resembled an overgrown junk pile, much of the collection is meticulously displayed according to themes. Many themes have their own room or building. The museum has a beauty shop, boutique, hunting lodge, dentist's office, church, saloon, sheriff's office, bank, post office, schoolhouse, laundry, tool room, radio room, children's room, model railroad, soda fountain … It has an old house brimming with antiques, a 1950s kitchen, an Indian room with arrowheads, paintings, cradleboards and regalia. A Western room decorated with bits, bridles, spurs, saddles and chaps; a drive-in restaurant staffed by a mannequin on roller skates; a service station with a vintage gas pump and a Model A car and truck.

The sports room now has a BSU theme. Unlike most of the displays, it's as contemporary as its Fiesta Bowl posters and a white football signed by Coach Pete. Former BSU and NFL player Rolly Woolsey donated some autographed photos. "The place is fabulous," Woolsey said. "To tell you the truth, I was shocked when I went out there. I expected to spend 15 minutes and ended up looking around for two hours."

The actual number of items the Lawsons have collected is unknown but enormous. They have baseballs, bats, fielder's gloves, catcher's mitts, catcher's masks and chest protectors, vintage baseball magazines.

They have an ore wagon from Sun Valley, sheepwagons from Grasmere, a buckboard from Nampa, an organ from a church in Weiser, the counter and board-room doors from the Bruneau State Bank, a mailbox from the post office in Grand View, a barn from Eagle and a 200-year-old cemetery gate from Missouri.

They have a farm-machinery collection, toy-truck collection, whistle collection, pocketknife collection, beer-can collection, salt-and-pepper-shaker collection and 7,000 fruit, milk, liquor, soda and medicine bottles — many of them antiques. A very partial listing of the collection's more bizarre items would include alfalfa-seed screeners, an egg-vending machine, moonshine still, scales for weighing eggs, insulators from power poles, chicken brooders and de-beakers, antique milkshake makers, corn shellers, a pink pay phone and a 1952 fire truck.

The collection grew significantly in 2000, when the Lawsons purchased the contents of the structurally threatened museum in Silver City. Housed in two buildings on their ranch, it includes Old West artifacts ranging from a 1908 wedding dress to a stove for heating irons used in a Chinese laundry.

"It's the history of Silver City from 1862 on," Jack Lawson said. "It took our life savings to buy it, but we wanted to keep it here in Owyhee County. If we hadn't, it would have been auctioned and scattered all over the country." Ranchers most of their lives, the Lawsons are down to raising 20 acres of hay now. He's 68; she's 66. Proceeds from museum admissions supplement their Social Security and help add to their ever-growing collection.

"We have another couple of rooms and another building we still want to do," Belva said.

"If we don't get too old," her husband added. "It's hard to know when to stop. We have more stuff we could put out for the tours, but we don't want to overdo it. People get too tired."

Contact reporter Tim Woodward at or 377-6409.

Lawson's Emu-Z-Um

By Steve Crump
The Times-News - Twin Falls, Idaho
Edition Date: 09/03/06

This may be my single favorite man-made attraction in Idaho. On the site of their emu ranch outside Grand View, Jack and Belva Lawson have set up a replica of an 1860s town, complete with the contents of the Silver City Schoolhouse Museum.

Displays include period clothing, antique farm implements, a hand-built automobile and a train station with model trains on display. Don't miss the antique egg-vending machine.

Don't forget: Your camera.