After several years of effort, the DNR bought the land and approved the the formation of the park in 1972 and it opened in 1977. The museum grew during the next 20 years as buildings were transported to the park and 15 more acres were acquired. In 2006, The Betsy Hendrickson and Lucyanna Hitch Education Center was built. Its purpose has been to serve as place for education programs, but it also a location for business meetings, receptions and parties. Over 18,000 students visit the center each year.