Elmer Halseth

Halseth was hired in 1926 to teach history and science, receiving the State Teacher of the Year Award in 1967. During the late 1930s, Halseth inspired his students to raise funds to purchase a painting from a traveling exhibit he had helped arrange to come to Rock Springs. This was the beginning of the Rock Springs High School Art Collection which hung throughout the school until the mid-1960s. Each year the students held fundraisers -- bake sales, collecting scrap metal, holding carnivals or collecting coins in jars which was then used to purchase artwork to hang in the school. Over the years, as the collection continued to grow, community members wanted to be able to see the large collection that had been a part of their high school experience. Halseth wrote a grant for funding from the Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to open the Rock Springs Fine Arts Center on November 6, 1966. He served as the director of the center until 1970. The public was able to see the art collection that had grown to over 200 works of art by this time. The funding lasted until July 1, 1970, at which time the City of Rock Springs, Sweetwater County Library and the school district worked together on an agreement to keep the Fine Arts Center open. Halseth was very community-minded, and found other areas in which he could serve the community. He was a veteran of World War I and was an active member of the American Legion Archie Hay Post No. 24 where he served as chaplain for many years. As service to Sweetwater County, Halseth was first elected to the Wyoming House of Representatives from 1957 to 1961 and then as a Wyoming State Senator from 1963 to 1967. In 1967, Governor Stanley Hathaway appointed Halseth to the first Wyoming Council on the Arts which he served on for eight years.

The art collection and the Community Fine Arts Center are a lasting legacy to Rock Springs.  Celebrating the 50th anniversary last fall, the center continues to display the school district’s art collection, now over 500 pieces of art through donations by artists and people in our community. The CFAC also provides a variety of opportunities to the citizens of Sweetwater County to see quality art exhibits, attend performances from professional musicians, dancers and actors, and to experience creating art themselves.