Bill Thomas’ big garage in Stockton serves several purposes.With nearly 2,000 square feet of floor space, it’s a museum, workplace, man castle, big-game trophy room, and a place for large family gatherings. It also can hold five to six vehicles.
The garage includes hundreds of relics he has collected during his 69 years as a Stockton resident and while working the past 50 years for Broken Arrow Construction Company.
“I enjoy collecting things. I like old stuff,” Thomas said.
His son, Greg Thomas, also works for Broken Arrow and the pair have worked together every work day for about 25 years. They have collected items throughout the American West to add to the garage’s collection with several items from Nevada.
“We’ve collected some things from out in Wendover, Battle Mountain, Wells and Ely, Nevada,” Thomas said.
Part of the collection includes a favorite old hat worn by his father Bud Thomas, who resided in Stockton from 1916 to 2001.
“A lot of these things belonged to my dad Bud,” Thomas said.
With Greg’s help, Thomas built the 32 foot by 60 foot garage back in 2013 on land next to his house. The interior walls feature wood collected from various locations.
“I wouldn’t be able to afford this place if I had to use all new wood,” Thomas said.
“An old adobe house owned by somebody else used to sit here and then was torn down,” he said. “We bought the land because it was right next to our house.”
One of Thomas’ prized possessions mounted on a wall is an old Kenworth truck grille with a 1935 license plate. The garage includes a wide array of license plates from various states, but mostly from Utah. He has Utah plates from 1927, 1948 and 1949.
The garage includes old farming and mining tools, along with elk, deer and bear trophies from various hunts. A few of the trophy animals were taken in the mountains near Stockton. His other son, Kevin Thomas, is a hunting guide who lives in Hoytsville, Utah. Some animals were taken near the Coalville area.
A big saw blade commemorates the Thomas Family established in 1968. Greg provided the blade as a gift last August for his mother Marian and father’s 50th wedding anniversary.
Recent additions to the collection include items from the Keith Day residence in Rush Valley. Day passed away in January. His daughter Sarah is married to Greg.
“Sarah, my daughter-in-law, was getting rid of a lot of stuff and I put some in here,” Thomas said. “I know these items mean a lot to her, and she said she may want some back when she gets some space for them.” Two of the items are an old pitchfork and shovel.
Thomas said he enjoys the time he spends in his garage, especially in the winter.
“We can warm this place up to 110 with the use of a diesel fuel torpedo heater,” he said. Natural gas also provides heat.
The garage also includes a restroom, big screen television, refrigerator and other furniture.
Several family members gathered recently for a celebration after Thomas’ grandson was baptized.
“We celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter out here,” Thomas said. “In September we are having a granddaughter’s reception here.”
Thomas also pointed out a newspaper clipping from the Transcript Bulletin’s “Front Page Flashback” column from April 25.
The article featured stories from the newspaper’s front pages of issues April 25 and April 28, 1944.
The story told of two Thomas brothers discovering a dead body near Stockton.
“Those brothers were my dad and Uncle John,” Thomas said. “My dad must have told that story 100 times over the years. My dad said when he came across the body, he ran all the way home, which was about one and a half miles. They know the exact spot where they found the body.”
Garage walls also include a few displays of words of wisdom and/or amusement that Thomas has found to be enlightening. He said if people would like to see his garage of artifacts, or perhaps some of the words, they should contact him.
The collection may even continue to grow over the next few years.
”My walls are getting pretty full. If I do find something good, though, I’ll add it to the collection,” he said.