LOCAL NEWS

Massive Tank Collection Draws Visitors To Tiny Town Of Dubois, Wyoming

Jun 1, 2021, 10:29 PM | Updated: 10:45 pm

DUBOIS, Wyo. — It is the kind of place tourists flock to in Washington, D.C. or New York during the summer months — an expansive, comprehensive museum, covering key aspects of World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam.  

The National Museum of Military Vehicles, however, sits on the outskirts of a Wyoming frontier town, roughly five-and-a-half hours from Salt Lake City and six-and-a-half hours from Denver, with a population just over 800.  

Inside the building sits scores of vintage and restored vehicles from the major conflicts, encapsulated in immersive exhibits.  

It’s all part of museum founder Dan Starks’ personal collection, and all historic pieces tell their own tales of heroism and valor.  

“There’s a lot of meaning here,” Starks told KSL-TV. “To put yourself in the shoes of the people that served in these vehicles — you can’t get that from a book, you can’t get that from a movie.”  

Starks, a retired CEO of a Fortune 500 company, said he bought his first tank in 2010.  

“I had no idea a civilian could own a tank,” Starks said. “When I got the opportunity to buy this rusted-out relic of a tank, I just jumped on it, thinking, ‘wouldn’t that be something to be able to restore it and drive it in the Dubois Fourth of July parade!’”  

Restoring it may have been a “frustrating process,” as Starks described it, but it didn’t stop him from buying his second tank in 2014.  

“Once I bought a second tank, I slowly started to buy more,” Starks recalled. “At one point, I had 13 military vehicles. I created a building to house them in that had a capacity of 30 military vehicles. I thought, ‘Well, I’ll never get 30 military vehicles’ and this tank barn will be adequate for the duration of my collecting career.”  

As of Sunday, Starks has 475 tanks and military vehicles.  

He recently acquired dozens of vehicles from a Utah collector who passed away in October 2020.  

“Karl Smith from Salt Lake City was a very good friend of mine. He was absolutely instrumental in helping me create this collection,” Starks said. “He sold to me and helped me understand 150 of these vehicles in my 475-vehicle collection.”  

Starks said there were still plans to add to the collection.  

“I have as many vehicles as I can imagine wanting, covering World War II and the Korean War,” Starks explained. “I have a good number of vehicles covering the Vietnam War, but I have not been able to access a number of more modern American ground combat vehicles, and that’s where the expansion of my collection will come from here in the future.”  

Inside the National Museum of Military Vehicles, created by Dan Sparks, sits scores of vintage and restored vehicles from the major conflicts, encapsulated in immersive exhibits. (Andrew Adams/KSL TV) Inside the National Museum of Military Vehicles, created by Dan Sparks, sits scores of vintage and restored vehicles from the major conflicts, encapsulated in immersive exhibits. (Andrew Adams/KSL TV) Inside the National Museum of Military Vehicles, created by Dan Sparks, sits scores of vintage and restored vehicles from the major conflicts, encapsulated in immersive exhibits. (Andrew Adams/KSL TV) Inside the National Museum of Military Vehicles, created by Dan Sparks, sits scores of vintage and restored vehicles from the major conflicts, encapsulated in immersive exhibits. (Andrew Adams/KSL TV)

Starks recently opened a Korean War and Vietnam section, with audio and visual displays, and recorded first-hand accounts of veterans.  

“We wanted people to feel it in their bones to the extent we could make that possible,” Starks said.  

Though he has poured more than $100 million of his personal fortune into the collection, Starks said the enterprise hasn’t been about the value or even collecting — but instead, he sees a benefit in the stories and lessons the vehicles share.  

He ultimately hopes visitors to the museum will gain a greater appreciation for military service.  

“It’s a level of appreciation that I think people are surprised to feel when they come through this museum,” Starks said. “I hope that people really learn a little bit more about what did it take to create the country that we have and what do we need to continue to do to keep this country moving forward.” 

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

The area where first responders rescued the two people (Weber Fire District)...
Michael Houck

Two rescued from Pineview Reservoir after falling through ice

Officials are warning residents of thin ice after two people needed rescuing from the Pineview Reservoir Saturday morning. 
22 hours ago
(KSL TV)...
Michael Houck

Police: Man threatening neighbors with knife, leads officers in multi-agency chase

A man is in police custody after "waving" a knife around bystanders and fleeing from police Friday evening.
22 hours ago
Presenters at the Health Relationship Youth Summit asking for final questions. (KSL-TV's Mark Less)...
Alex Cabrero

Utah teens learn more about healthy relationships at youth summit

Teenagers gathered at a Healthy Relationship Youth Summit to learn more about the signs of unhealthy relationships and be able to identify them.
22 hours ago
snow covered bowl in Utah mountains...
Michael Houck

Woman hit by snowmobile while tubing near Peter Sinks, flown to U of U hospital

First responders treated a woman hit by a snowmobile while tubing near the Peter Sinks area Saturday afternoon.
22 hours ago
For 29 years, Mike Skogerboe has been to nearly every girls and boys basketball game, and nearly ev...
Mike Anderson

Fremont High School helps support their superfan

Students and teachers at Fremont High School teamed up to help out their superfan who rarely misses a game.
22 hours ago
Charles Alires, 34, was stabbed to death Thursday afternoon on Main Street in Salt Lake City. (KSL...
Brooke Williams

One SLC stabbing suspect in custody, police searching for another

Police are asking the public for help in the search for a second suspect in a fatal stabbing.
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Massive Tank Collection Draws Visitors To Tiny Town Of Dubois, Wyoming