The JKL Museum / American Museum of Telephony and surrounding residences were lost to fire last night (September 10 2015).
The community of Mountain Ranch CA where the museum was located may also be affected. We were told by firefighters that the museum burned to the ground. Currently no one can get into the area. The fire is called the Butte fire. As soon as we have more news we will post it on our website: http://jklmuseum.com
44 thoughts on “JKL Museum lost in fire”
So sad to see the disaster. Thankfully no bodily injury. I offer my assistance and expertise as needed.
John, I enjoyed the tour of your museum a few years ago. My regrets was I didn’t have my camera, to photograph many of the wonderful pieces of phone stuff you had on display. I was fascinated by you officer with the loft full of antique radio. I though for a while of donating a piece which came from my wife’s family.
The information and exhibits were lost, but the man that gAthered then and made them in to a comprehensive display that gave them meaning wasn’t. Stuff, can sometimes be replaced the person that understands the stuff is worth far more. I am glad you and your family are safe.
When you start restoring and rebuilding, I would like to help you by photograph the equipment, maybe eventually gathering enough material for a book by you to help finance the rebuilding of museum.
Bob Officer, N6TCE
I’m going to try to post this one more time; I don’t have the energy to go into detail again. I have a huge collection. I would love to donate. Let me know.
Please be patient. I live in the county but my home was not burned. The Residents of the Mountain Ranch area mostly have had no internet in the past and power and phone has not yet been restored since the fire, so retrieving messages from the web will be very hard. Also the area surrounding the museum are still closed. I am just letting you know so you you don’t give up. I am sure that he will be in contact as soon as he is able.
Thanks! I didn’t think my posts were showing up. I’m sure he has a lot on his plate now.
If they are looking to rebuild I have boxes and boxes of phones from when I was an avid collector about 20 years ago. I have at least one of every Western Electric phone. I have some in matching colors that they never got to after the 10/83 deregulation to mark. I know I have at least one Kellogg red bar and Kellogg ashtray. I’m happy to donate if someone is rebuilding this museum. I have a total of 3 phones I want to keep and I would be delighted to see the rest go to a good home.
I was shocked to hear of the fire and resulting destruction. An incredible loss to you and the phone collecting and phone history community. To John, Wayne and Remco, I have wanted to visit the museum for years, and I fully expect to be able to do so in the future. Here’s to rebuilding!
Please let me know if there is something I can do for the cause.
The loss of your museum touches me personally. Though I never saw it, my first job was as a switchboard operator on an old plug switchboard (110 internal and 4 outside lines), and through the years I operated telexs, PBX and Tadex systems and fax machines. I would have dearly loved to see and learn from your museum.
You will be too busy right now starting over to think about starting it over again… but I sincerely hope you find the opportunity to do so. I will visit this page regularly to find out.
God Bless you and Keep you Well!
This is a tragedy that only brings additional significance to the date 9/11. John, Wayne and their staff had a treasure here. One of the most significant museums of its kind anywhere. They were generous with their time, exibits and displays. The guys would even serve lunch. Also, the workshops that folks from all over the world would partisipate in were unique. These guys had much more then a musume, they had a destination. My heart is heavy and I am saddened for John, Wayne, Remco and all the others who have been devistated by this disaster. Standing at attention for anything I may do for them.
Such sad news. On behalf of all of us at the New Hampshire Telephone Museum in Warner, New Hampshire, we wish to extend our deepest condolences on the loss of the JKL Museum. We understand the tremendous passion and efforts it required to build the collection. If we may be of support or help, please contact us to discuss how we may be of help as you move forward.
Warm Regards, Graham Gifford, Laura French and Paul Violette.
While the 12 large fires in California have made it into the news here in Europe, I wouldn’t have dreamed that they might affect me personally in any manner, and thus it was quite a shock for me to hear from Remco that he and his family lost their home to one of the fires. The next shock came when I visited the JKL website and read that the museum had been destroyed by fire as well.
These are truly dark days for telephone collectors everywhere, and the news of both losses deeply saddens my collectors’ heart. All those concerned have my sincerest sympathy.
A wave of horror swept over me as I read the title of a new topic posted on the Classic Rotary Phone Forum “JKL Museum lost to fire”.
It has long been on my bucket list to visit this amazing museum in person after many “on-line” visits. The Step by Step exchange would be a highlite for me. It never occured to me that one day it might not be there to visit.
My sincere condolences to you John, Wayne, Remco and all others involved.
What horrible news. I watched John and Wayne build the museum over the years, and always enjoyed seeing Wayne at the shows. Let me know if there is anything that I can do to help.
I have been to the JKL Museum in two occasions in the past and was amazed at the quantity and the quality of antique/rare/historical telephone items. This is an absolute tragedy. I feel for John, Wayne, Remco and all others who have put countless hours and capital to preserve examples of the history of telephones.
Sorry to hear of the loss of the museum and all the hard work that went into it. I’m glad at least some things got saved. It was a nice place to visit the 2 times I made it there. Hopefully it will come back even better!
I don’t see any indication that anything was saved. It appears to be total and complete loss.
Very sad. Never heard of your museum until today but very sorry to hear that something that has obviously been built up over many years with a real passion has been lost. Hope you can rebuild what you had.
So sorry to hear of this. I always enjoyed looking through all of the interesting pieces that John collected. My favorite was always the step switch. His passion for the industry always showed on his face when he took you on a tour.
I am so terribly sorry for you guys at the JKL museum.I have never been there since I live in KY,but you had beautiful phones and it was a beautiful place.I wish I could have experienced it.I know you guys will rebuild and then you will have the fun of finding the phones again.So,go ahead and start buying and collecting again and then you will just need your new building again.Start fighting back right away and don’t give up.Start rebuilding your museum again right away starting with your phones and equipment.We have a FB page called Classic North American Telephones with around 225 members and if you guys need anything just request to join and we will help you anyway we can.We have a few great members in the group who have visited your museum many times and they were just there last week as a matter of fact.They are very saddened by this loss as are the rest of us from Classic North American Telephones.Praying and thinking of you guys and start building now and it will be bigger and better than before.Again please let us know if there is something you need that maybe one of the members have or if you need me to keep an eye out for a certain phone because I am always looking….God Bless!!!
This is really sad. I too am glad nobody was hurt. This is such a loss. I was so impressed with the museum when I saw it with the CARLA group just a few years ago. I just can’t believe it’s all gone. If there’s anything I can help with, just say so.
Such a tragic loss for the history of telephony. Very, very glad no one was hurt. When you know what the losses are, and what is necessary to rebuild, please post what you’ll need. I’d be happy to donate what I can — as i know many others will be also. Sad news.
I read this on one of the phone related mailing lists this morning Australian time and went numb.
As with everyone I am glad you are all OK but mourn the loss. Not just for you but for the loss to your nation and the world of telecommunications. I treasure the memories of my two visits there, the most recent being last May. I hope you can rally and continue in whatever way may be possible in the future. (Richard Schipper, Melbourne Australia (Victorian Telecommunications Museum & Telstra Museum Melbourne))
What a shock. Not only the loss of this great museum, but also the personal catastrophy for my dear friend Remco, who came in from the Netherlands and started his work for the museum just a couple of weeks ago. The dutch collectors will surely back him up.
I didn’t know why I wore black to work today…now I do. – Air Force Telephone Switchman
Absolutely unbelievable. Such sad, unbearable news. We have lost such a huge treasure. You all have worked so hard and created such a special environment for us all to enjoy. We should be so grateful that no one was injured but it still is so hard to understand. Thank you for all the great times there and let’s keep our fingers crossed that there is some kind of next chapter.
Hello JKL Team,
Im so so sorry to hear about the the loss of everything in Mountain Ranch. I’m just glad that you are all okay.
It must be a devastating blow to all of you that were involved in the museum project.
There are no words that can explain the grief that all of you must feel about the loss of the museum.
Of course it’s great that no one was injured (or worse) and material things can always be replaced but no one can replace the love, the devotion and the dedication that went into the creation of that truly magical place.
As I look back at the August ’15 road trip Gay Goff and I made from the L.A. area to Mountain Ranch to deliver a truck load of household furnishings and other goodies to Remco, I can only think how especially lucky I was that I got the opportunity to meet some great people and to get a guided tour of the museum in all its splendor. It was truly a wondrous adventure that I’ll never ever forget, and will treasure for the rest of my life.
I still can’t believe it’s actually gone. Just a horrible thing to happen.
Best Wishes to All
This seems unreal. Steve Hart and a few people were there just last week, and posted pictures of your museum on Facebook. That jogged my memory and I remembered selling your museum a new old stock yellow 711B princess phone last year on eBay.
Hopefully you can rebuild. The videophone and the 10-button Call-A-Matic may be hard to replace, but many of the other units that were lost are out there in the hands of private collectors.
At least nobody was physically hurt, and that’s more important.
HUGE loss. I remember calling into the 209-755-44xx switch just to hear the tones. Irreplaceable equipment, this is indeed a tragedy to those of us who so love and appreciate this stuff. I’m so sorry… words cannot express how saddening this is. I will indeed miss dialing into and hearing the switch. Thank God you all are OK, and I do hope you’ll rebuild!
I am heartbroken to hear of your loss. I hope you had a bit of warning and time to save some pieces from your museum. Please tell Valerie hello from her old friend from Pac West Telecomm. My prayers are with all of you. -Patti
John and team,
Sorry to hear the tragic news, and I am glad that everyone is safe. I will be watching for further word on any salvage or efforts to rebuild.
I was completely shocked when I read of this terrible news. Although I was never fortunate enough to visit the museum in person, on many occasions I spent time just browsing your photos again and again. I had hoped that some day I would find myself in the area so that I could visit the museum. It is fortunate that there was no injury or loss of life.
My heart-felt condolences to all of you.
An absolute tragedy! I am so sorry to hear of this news.
Sue Mundy called me today and told me the sad news. What a terrible loss. My regrets go out to John LaRue, Wayne Merritt, Remco Enthoven and the many others who helped make a great telephone museum. So much history is lost. Joe Celentano, Twain Harte, CA.
So very sorry for your loss, John and team. You’ve done a remarkable thing in creating and building that place up. All of use who were lucky enough to be treated to a visit are forever grateful. Best wishes to you in a most difficult time.
John thank you for sharing your passion and love of Telephony. I thank you for showing us your museum. Joshua and Kailee still talk of the phones you demonstrated. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you.
John I’m so very sorry I know the work and the years of love you invested. I pray no one got hurt and when the time is right it can be rebuilt better than ever.
So sorry to hear this sad news, I still remember what wonderful hosts all of you were when we visited you some years back. I’m happy everyone is ok.
So sad to hear this news 🙁
It is so sad to hear the museum and the was lost to the fire. I will always remember visiting there with my Great Uncle Wayne and being so impressed with the collection. I hope you are able to find a way to bring the history of the telephone back to life for future generations!
This is horrible.
When you are ready to rebuild, I would be happy to donate a large number of phones.
I’m really sorry.
Very sad news indeed. Hope everybody is OK and nobody got hurt.
Oh, my God! Despite my sorrow over all that must have been lost, I hope everyone is safe, and that the Museum can rebuild. Stay strong, Guys! I pray it wasn’t as bad as first reports give!
I’m so sad to learn of the loss of the museum and your home, Remco. Chris and I send our support to you, John, Wayne, Lorne and the rest of the crew.
On behalf of the Herbert H. Warrick Jr. Museum of Communications here in Seattle, Ed Mattson and I extend our deepest condolences on the loss of what has been years of hard work to build and maintain the JKL Museum. When the time is appropriate, please contact us to discuss how we may be of help as you move forward.
Dave Dintenfass / Herbert H. Warrick Jr. Museum of Communications
Herbert H. Warrick Jr. Museum of Communications