It’s not everyday you get a chance to be Charlie in the chocolate factory. There just aren’t that many dreamers around like Willie Wonka who have a passion for sweets and the gumption to construct a massive chocolate factory to share with the world.  Unless you consider Dan Starks in Dubois, Wyoming.

Yesterday, Dan shared the status of his multi-million dollar, self-funded, project to build the first National Museum of Military Vehicles which starts with a 140,000 sq. ft. building on a 4-acre plot next to the Wind River just east of Dubois.

“We want to honor the service and sacrifice of our military men and women, preserve history, and educate generations to come, ” explained Dan, who moved to Dubois a few years ago in search of a place to get away from it all.

Within minutes, you get a real sense of Dan’s desire to share a deeper understanding of the impacts of war on the humans involved and the way it shaped a culture and society during those years — both during World War 2 and post-war.

The embedded Military Research Library within the building is an example of how Dan and his growing team are planning to reach beyond the walls of the museum.

“We’re currently digitizing about 75 pallets worth of documents for the library,” he said.

Like Wonka, Dan looks at his completely restored machines with child-like wonder. However, not only can he tell you the mechanical and engineering details, he can give you unbelievably detailed context for them. The stories of courageous men and women are manifested in a very authentic and tangible way with each vehicle — and all of the collateral including uniforms, weapons, and more.

The juxtaposition of the expansive museum in the wilds of Dubois are certainly eye catching and sure to be a new draw to one of Wyoming — and America’s — most underrated communities.

The first structure is expected to cost between $25M and $30M and Dan anticipates opening in May of 2020.