Stepping Back Into Days Gone By
20 Jun 2013
|From Kings River Bend RV Park – Montrose, CO
A bit of area history was the agenda for today. We accomplished this by visiting two “living museums” each telling the story of the people and their way of life through some original but mostly reconstructed buildings of the era. Most impressive with both museums was the authenticity and abundance of furnishings inside the various buildings.
First history lesson was that of Fort Uncompahgre. The term “fort” is not exactly accurate. Although called a fort is was never used or intended for military purposes. To be more historically correct it should be referred to as a trading post. The external stockade was never meant to keep attackers out but rather to keep livestock in.
Constructed in 1828 by a trader based out of Mexican Santa Fe the post was placed about two miles from the confluence (joining) of the Gunnison and Uncompahgre Rivers. The reconstructed fort is not in the exact location of the original due to the change in the path of the Gunnison River over time and also the lack of good historical documentation as to the exact location of the original fort.
Fort Uncompahgre remained a viable trading post along this route used to travel to Taos and Santa Fe by Anglo and Mexican trappers. In later years Mexican immigrants on their way to California also traveled this rugged route.
It was during the summer of 1843 hostilities broke out between the Utes and Mexicans of the Santa Fe area. Warfare spread into the Gunnison River basin where unfortunately Fort Uncompahgre was staffed by Mexicans. It remained in operation until September 1844 when the occupants of the fort were killed in an attack by the Ute Indians.
After touring the fort we decided to go and find the confluence of the two rivers. We have searched for other river confluences in our travels with most having been done during our Mississippi River road trip of 2011.
Given some directions by the guide at the fort we set out to find a rope bridge located down a maintained city park pathway to the Uncompahgre River’s edge. After walking for about a mile we came across the bridge spanning the Uncompahgre River. Rudy being the brave one was elected to go to the bridge’s center and capture some photos of the confluence in the distance.
During prior drives on Hwy. 50 through Delta (where Fort Uncompahgre is located) we had seen its claim to fame as the “city of murals”. Well, you know me, I love a colorful and unique mural so we drove the streets of this small town searching out murals to photograph. Have to say think we found some real gems……hope you enjoy them.
Next drove to nearby Cedaredge, CO for our second bit of history today. Pioneer Town is a museum and historical village comprised of 23 structures. Its signature structures are three distinctive wooden silos from the Bar 1 Ranch. This 1880s cattle ranch was located on this area of present day Cedaredge now housing Pioneer Town.
These three wooden silos that welcome visitors were built in 1916 and 1917 and are about 41 feet tall and 16 feet in diameter each holding about 200 tons of silage. Because of their unique “9” and “11” multisided construction they are on the National Historic Register. They like other structures in the village contain artifacts and antiques reflective of the era and/or structure used to display them.
During your visit through this living museum you find yourself walking along the boardwalks of early day Main Street. Stopping to enter replicas of the local bank, print shop, barber shop, mercantile and general store. You will also find the town Marshall’s office, original 1906 Cedaredge jail and let’s not forget the town’s saloon.
Away from Main Street are the train depot, a pioneer country schoolhouse, a 1909 packing shed and the 1880s Peterson Cabin where in this small one room with loft cabin they raised nine children. There is also a building which houses one of the most extensive collection of Indian arrowheads and points in the West. They are displayed in very unique and artistic ways.
Pioneer Town is also home to the “Chapel of the Cross”. A small chapel like several we have visited in our travels with a large glass window wall being the focal point at the front of the chapel. This like the others gives visitors a place for quiet moments of reflection while taking in the serenity of its surroundings.
We enjoy stepping back in history to days gone by. Have to say these two “living museums” visited today rate amongst the best with their abundance of authentic and time period sensitive contents in every structure.