What? It has been a long time in coming. But, the time has finally arrived to officially name our new home. For decades, this building was affectionally known as "The Annex". For decades it was used for a variety of purposes including office, museum, records center, but most often storage of a variety of items collected over the years. But, with much hard work, expense, and the support of volunteers, we are pleased to rename this building the "Park County Historical Society Heritage Center". We are so proud of this new name that we will impose a fine on any Board member that uses the "A" word again. :-)
Where? The Heritage Center is located at the McGraw Memorial Park in Bailey. However, if you visit the Park, you just may miss it. It is located adjacent to the parking lot on the east side of the Park next to the Bailey Water treatment plant. It is a small building connected to the Park by a small foot bridge across Crow Creek. If you have been to the restrooms, you have been to the Heritage Center.
When? The Heritage Center has been a "vision" for decades. It has been discussed, discussed, and discussed many times. Each time concepts were proposed and evaluated. However, plans never came to fruition for a variety of reasons, many of which revolved around funding.
Over the past year, plans were developed and agreed upon by the Board. That in itself was a major step in the right direction. But, that was only the beginning of the work that lay ahead. That work has led to the day when we are prepared to have a "Grand Opening" this month.
"Grand Opening" is perhaps too strong a term. While much has been accomplished, the work continues to improve the Center with displays to promote the history and heritage of Park County.
How? It is somewhat difficult to explain the "how". It can be best summarized with "hard work and perseverance."
The Board of Directors and volunteers committed hundreds of hours of their time, energy, and expertise to tackle the many small, but important, tasks along the way.
Furniture, of all types, had to be found at affordable prices, and electricians, plumbers, and craftsmen of all types had to be found to accomplish the task at hand. Sometimes, the work seemed to the too much to manage, but as we all know, "where there is a will, there is a way." And, we were never short of the "will". The "way" always seemed to show up just in time.
There would be no "how" without the financial support from the Park County Historical Preservation Advisory Commission (PCHPAC) and the South Park National Heritage Area (SPNHA). These two organizations provided the funding needed to reach our goals. Without their support, the PCHS Heritage Center would have likely remained the "A" word.
We have a full season of events planned for this year. While not first on the agenda, the most significant is an Open House to celebrate the opening of the Heritage Center. So, mark your calendars and join us for a season of fun and learning.
Walking Tour of Historic Shawnee
Saturday, May 14
Join the Park County Historical Society for a walking tour of the Shawnee National Historic District. The settlement of Shawnee has an assortment of period architecture, since the town was started in 1900 by James Price. The Shawnee Post Office, built by Price, is still in operation, 122 years later.
We will meet at McGraw Memorial Park in Bailey at 10:00am on Saturday, May 14th. Come prepared for the ever changing Colorado weather, and don't forget your camera and sack lunch. Call 303-838-7740 for additional information.
Heritage Center Open House
Volunteer Appreciation Picnic
Saturday, June 11
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Featuring Rex Rideout & the Tin Cup Band
PCHS is celebrating the opening of the Heritage Center (formerly the "A word") with combination Open House and Volunteer Appreciation Picnic. Displays and Artifacts will will be available to highlight the history and heritage of Park County.
Ever popular Rex Rideout and the Tin Cup Band will be performing. Food and drink will be plentiful in addition to tours of the Heritage Center and historic buildings in McGraw Park.
We will also host our Volunteer Appreciation Picnic. This is a great opportunity to sign up for ways to help at McGraw Memorial Park. There are opportunities to participate in landscaping, minor maintenance projects, research, and just about anything else that fits your interest or skills.
Bring Our Gardens to Life Day
Sunday, June 5
Saturday, June 5th is "Bring our gardens to life day" at McGraw Memorial Park in preparation for Bailey Days. Plant donations, planting and mulching really make the gardens pop and show off the important buildings right on the river.
New and recurring volunteers keep the park so inviting. You will want to return and enjoy your work. We are considering a potato patch to invoke historic gardening and to serve as a reminder of the Park County farming heritage.
Field trip to Hartsel
Saturday, June 11
Plan to meet at McGraw Memorial Park at 9am for a field trip to Hartsel, the town where the South Fork and the Middle Fork of the South Platte meet.
This area is also one of the farthest north reaches of Zebulon Montgomery Pike's Expedition in December 1806. We look forward that Hartsel will soon to have an historic trail marker there.
In 1866, the settlement of Hartsel was established on the South Fork of the South Platte River by cattleman Samuel Hartsel, who had come to the mining camp of Hamilton from Pennsylvania in 1860. Having no luck in prospecting for wealth, Hartsel decided to become a rancher in South Park and sell meat to the mining camps.
As gold production dwindled in the area, Hartsel lived practically alone in the Park, visited by Ute Indians with whom he traded and remained on friendly terms. In 1860 and 1861, Hartsel purchased exhausted oxen from miners and freighters arriving from the East. The rancher reinvigorated the animals with rest and native grasses on his lands. Hartsel is credited with being one of the first, perhaps the first, ranchers to raise Shorthorn cattle in Colorado.
Be sure to bring a bag lunch and we will stop for a picnic along the way.
10am - 4:45pm Saturday and 10am - 3pm Sunday
McGraw Park has big plans for Bailey Days. While Main Street in Bailey will be transformed back into the Old West for the entire weekend with over 100 artisans, vendors, games for kids, food and drink carts, and local organizations where you can boot scoot to live music all day Saturday and Sunday until 3pm.
Likewise McGraw Park will have acoustic bands with ole' timey, folk, country and western music. In addition we have a Treasure Hunt for the kids, gold panning demonstration, the Peak Academy Dance Group, and if we are lucky, the Ridge Runner Square Dance group.
Still waiting to hear about the Fire Station's Duck Race. But, if it is scheduled, the historic Keystone Bridge at the Park is a great place to watch the the ducks sprint to the finish.
Would you like to host a building or wear an ole' timey costume? Would your business like to sponsor an ole' timey band or help with food and drink. Call or email us.
Tour of Paris Mill and the historic settlement of Buckskin Joe
Saturday, 9:00 am
The Paris Mill is located on the eastern slope of the Mosquito Range in Park County at an altitude of 11,000′. Construction of the Mill was completed in 1895 to service the Paris Mine high above Buckskin Gulch on Mount Bross. The Mill’s period of significance begins with its construction in 1895 and continues to 1937 when major mill operations ceased. The Mill has primarily sat idle since the 1937 closure with its most recent occupation being a brief drilling operation in 1977. It was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. The Mill is nearly complete, including its machinery, engineered systems, structural elements, and architectural aspects and is one of few intact mills remaining from this era in Colorado.
Buckskin Joe, also known as Laurette, is a deserted ghost town that once served as the county seat of Park County, then a reborn attraction, and finally dismantled and moved to a private ranch.
This once flourishing mining camp, located about two miles west of Alma, Colorado, started in 1859 when a prospector named Mr. Phillips filed a mining claim.
Phillips’ claim was soon taken over by Joseph Higgenbottom, who was known for wearing buckskin clothing. As more miners came to the area, the camp took on the name of “Buckskin Joe.”
Saturday, August 13
Details of this field trip has not yet been finalized. However, judging from prior gold panning events, it promises to be a fun time for both young and old.
As reported earlier and thanks to volunteers, significant progress has been made restoring the 10600 Caboose. While we are extremely grateful for the hard work of our volunteers, our desire to finish the restoration is great and our patience has grown thin. We are going to try another path.
We are fortunate to employ the services of a "handyman". I hesitate to use that term as he is a craftsman of many talents. However, we have little resources to fund such an endeavor.
We have applied for a grant from the Rocky Mountain Railroad Historical Foundation. The amount of the grant request is small in comparison to the task at hand. However, we are prepared to "take up the slack" and commit funds to complete the project.
We will not know until June if we are fortunate to receive the grant. That uncertainty will not stop us from beginning the caboose restoration later this month. Hopefully, our commitment to this project will be supported by donations.
It is difficult to express in words how proud we are in the "birth" of the Heritage Center. It was a long time coming but finally it has come to fruition. Time to sit back and relax? Not hardly. There is still much to do, but the basics are in place and we will continue to make refinements over time. Some of the major features already in place include:
A permanent fixture of the Center will be a display of a "photographic history of Park County". The subjects of these displays will change often. Each time you visit the Center there will be something new to see. For the Open House, we have selected three topics - Bailey, Mining, and Ranching. Future displays will include historic photos of towns and communities, both past and present.
We have elected not to caption these photographs. Our hope is each photo will spark discussion and perhaps memories.
We plan to use the tables in front of the photos for "hands on artifacts". Our selection of artifacts will be suitable for the youngest of historians. Again, each time you visit the Center there will be something new to experience.
Yes, we have a kitchen. Why? Each time you have a guest in your home, more likely than not, you offer them something to drink or perhaps a snack. The same courtesy will be extended to the guest of the Center. Nothing fancy. Simply some "comfort food" as a welcoming gesture.
So, how could we afford such a luxury? We have Board members that made generous donations of the essentials. Other fixtures were provided by our "super shoppers" who scrounged thrift shops for bargains. However, the real bargain was provided by volunteers and skilled craftsmen who installed the cabinets and provided the necessary plumbing and electricity. We will be forever grateful for their support.
Did you ever hear the expression "You never have enough storage"? Yes, it is true. Thanks again to our "super shoppers" we were able to find enough file and storage cabinets to "store our stuff". Enough for now, but wisdom says it will never be enough.
Let's not over look the seating. Nice comfortable chairs for about 45 guests found by our "super shoppers". What would we have done without them!
Yes, a TV. Not just a TV, but a 72" smart TV. Out goes the projector screens and laptop projectors. Instead we will use this TV to support our presentations by sharing wirelessly with a laptop. It should provide the best of displays for our presenters and for our guests.
Behind the Scenes
What you won't see when you visit the new Center.
One can only imagine what it took to get to this point. Hours upon hours of physical demanding labor by our Board members and volunteers. The planning and funding is only a small part of any endeavor. It is only through hard work that goals are achieved. Thanks to all who made this dream possible.
As every visitor to Bailey knows, the only public restrooms available are located in McGraw Memorial Park. Visitors to the Park, tourist passing through, and even service providers and delivery personnel make use of the restrooms. As you might imagine, maintenance and upkeep is an expense and a burden on our Society and our Board members.
In an effort to cut cost and reduce maintenance, we have installed LED lighting, motion light switches, and hand dryers in the restrooms. The addition of hand dryers is an especially important feature as it eliminates the need to constantly resupply the towel holders and the harmful effect to our septic system.
Unfortunately, we must close our restroom during the winter months to keep our pipes from freezing. While it is a necessity for us to do, it does not relieve the "necessity" of those who depend on our restrooms. Of course, when nature calls, you do what you have to do.
It is clear to us that Bailey desperately needs a year round public restroom. And, getting back to the old adage, "Where there is a will, there is a way". In the meantime, we will continue managing our restrooms to the extent possible.
There are always "things that need doin'" around the Park. Regardless of your skill or interest, we always have a job for you. Just drop us a note and let us know of any talents you want to provide.
This year we have a special project that needs doin'.
We have written permission from the Denver Water Authority to cut down the willows along the river at the Park. While you can often hear the river while picnicking, we think it would be really nice to actually see the river. There is something really special about picnicking beside a river. But, as you might imagine, there are restrictions:
Can only cut them down.
May not remove the roots or use herbicide
May not use heavy equipment
Must not put slash in river.
Must remove all slash from the property
Must notify 48 hours in advance of work.
Lots of conditions. But, we understand and appreciate the desire to protect the river.
So what do we need? Volunteers who aren't afraid of hard work and have a "super weed whacker" with a saw blade attachment who can cut down the willows and haul off the slash.
We know this is a BIG ASK. We also know that our volunteers are generous with their time and skills.
Spotlight on a Piece of History
1892 A. F. Wilmarth
This work entitled the Chinese Puzzle.
A. F. Willmarth was born in Chicago in 1850. He died in Fairplay March 10, 1938. He was married to Cora D. Willmarth. Cora died in Fairplay January 17, 1913, according to the Fairplay Flume obituaries.
A.F. (Arthur) Willmarth was an internationally known political cartoonist and illustrator. His wife, Cora, wrote the book Widows Grave and Otherwise in 1903. A.F. Willmarth illustrated the book. He also illustrated Hello Bill - A Book of Toasts, as well as Bachelor Bigotries by Laura Brave Bates, Drawing Room Plays by Grace Luce Irwin and The Seven Plays.
He did illustrations for Paul Elder and Company of San Francisco where he illustrated books and pamphlets. Willmarth worked for several newspapers, including a few in Colorado.
In 1891 he worked for the Aspen Times. The Aspen Times praised Willmarth for his political cartoons depicting the Spanish-American War. In 1892 he worked for the Denver Republican. In the 1920’s Willmarth published The Park County Republican and Fairplay Flume.
In 1892, Willmarth participated in an Expedition in the Mesa Verde area that was commissioned by the State of Colorado. In 1892, he worked at the Denver Historical Department of Colorado’s Exhibit for the 1892 Expedition in Chicago. Aspen, Colorado sent the Silver Queen Statue to that expedition.
In 1914, the Summer Saloon in South Park City was purchased by Arthur Willmarth, who started a newspaper called The Park County Republican. Four years later Willmarth sold out to The Fairplay Flume. The two newspapers combined into The Park County Republican and Fairplay Flume, which is still the official name of the newspaper for Park County, known as The Flume.
Willmarth was the Mayor of Fairplay 1922-26. He was a member of the town Board of Trustees and Clerk of the District Court of Park County.
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Aside from periodic fundraisers and donations, the primary source of our funding is our membership program. The funds raised are used to pay our utility expenses, maintain and supply our public restrooms, make repairs to our historic buildings, landscaping, trail maintenance, insurance, tax preparation, website, and fees to maintain our tax exempt status. Needless to say, the term "non-profit" applies to our organization in every way. We need your help.
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