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Monthly Archives: September 2009

Historic Treasure in Montrose

Montrose County History in a D&RG Station

Montrose County History in a D&RG Station

Sometimes as I explore Colorado, I stumble across a historic treasure. A few weeks ago, while visiting Grand Junction on the West Slope, I drove south in search of history and new outlets for my books. In Montrose, about an hour from Junction, I was drawn into a museum on a side street by an impulse fondly recognized by writers and researchers as serendipity.

Housed in a restored Denver & Rio Grande railroad station was a wonderful collection of artifacts from Colorado history. Deb Barr welcomed me inside while sharing her knowledge and passion for area history and other things. She wears many hats in the community, from museum curator, to reporter, to clerk, to jazz singer. She was pretty excited to learn about my latest title, “General William Palmer: Railroad Pioneer”, founder of the D&RG Railroad. The book is now for sale in the museum gift shop, a fine collection of items pertaining to area history.

This little museum is not to be missed. If you are in the area with little time on your hands, at least step inside the depot and gift shop. The museum, which operates independently, is well-deserving of support and attention from history buffs. It is open until mid-October before closing for the winter. Watch for gift shop events in the winter.

Montrose County Historical Museum
21 North Rio Grande
970-249-2085
open mid-May through mid-October
Monday through Friday 10 AM – 4 PM
Saturday 10 AM – 2 PM

— Joyce Lohse, 9/25/09

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2009 in Western history

 

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Dearfield

House still standing at Dearfield

House still standing at Dearfield

This past week, I attended a screening at the Colorado Historical Society of Dearfield: The Road Less Traveled, with commentary by producer, donnie l. betts. The video, which was outstanding, was especially meaningful to me as I had visited the ghost town of Dearfield a few weeks earlier. Located thirty miles east of Greeley, Colorado, Dearfield was a colony settled by African American pioneers between 1910 and 1940. At one time, the community, founded by businessman O.T. Jackson, contained about 700 residents. The land was so dear to them that they named the town “Dearfield”.

Life was not easy in Dearfield. Weather was harsh, and growing conditions difficult for farming. World War I took away young men who did not return, and the Depression took a further economic toll. Although residents tried valiantly to maintain the town, hard times depleted it. By the 1940s, only twelve people remained. As betts pointed out, one reason the colony endured as long as it did, with a successful dining room and gas station, was due to the courage and tenacity of the female residents.

Fortunately, circumstances have led the Black American West museum to become owners and custodians of the property. Restoration as a historical landmark and for an interpretive center require much time, effort and funding. Much work has been done, and more is on the horizon. Hopefully, those things will all come together to keep the story and the dream alive.

Joyce B. Lohse, 9/6/09

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2009 in Western history

 

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