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What's happening at the Hotchkiss-Crawford Museum

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The Hotchkiss-Crawford Historical Society will hold its annual meeting on Sunday, Feb. 26, at Memorial Hall in Hotchkiss. To help folks understand the work of the society at the museum, Chuck Farmer submitted a Curator Report for 2016:

The year began with a project to reprint the 1976 "Hotchkiss & Crawford, The Early Years." Photos were added, script updated with tributes made to Kathleen Wheeler and the early historical society group. Photos from the Danny Cotten collection were used. We were blessed to have Lynda Cannon's guidance in reprinting the booklet.

We have continued to host presentations and found it necessary to purchase a new projector for the power point programs. Formerly we had to find one to borrow or use the presenter's projector which sometimes led to unknown results. So far it has been a welcome addition.

Shadescapes, a new business in Hotchkiss, asked us to put together a history of the old furniture store building. To do this, history was compiled from the many years of businesses and buildings along Bridge Street from First Street (the bank building) to the alley between the furniture store building and the drugstore building. A copy of this is available to read in the museum.

A great new aid to our research capabilities was obtained this year from the Hotchkiss Library. The old newspapers (from 1905-1990) had been stored in the basement in a closet. The library agreed to "gift" the collection to us. To accommodate this immense collection, we purchased new metal shelving for our storage room.

Plans have been made to preserve the content of the history compiled in the newspaper collection, with the help of volunteers. This endeavor will take time but will be well worth the work. Articles will be scanned by a portable scanner, put on a computer for editing, then compiled into binders and on flash drives. An index will be made to look up the material with ease without further harming the old newspapers.

In April, Dennis Turner noticed the outside stucco had many cracks in it. Steve Baxter was hired to apply an elastomeric coating and to fill in the larger cracks. The old stained fascia was replaced by metal. The VFW sign was refreshed also. Unfortunately, the coating covered the sign on the north side of the building. Annette Murry returned to put a new "Museum" sign back on.

The geothermal heating system was damaged with the town's sewer project but was able to be repaired. We also added a new circuit board to aid in better efficiency.

After losing two past presidents in 2016, there seemed to be a need to recognize our past presidents. Lasting Impressions made a board to display all of the past presidents. There is room on it for many more! Many past presidents served more than one term.

As the mining industry is declining in the valley, we started compiling a history of collected mine articles, photos and personal interviews. Inez Wolverton Pottorff took a small group to Wakefield Mesa to see the mine and ranch that her family moved to from Utah in 1941. Wolverton renamed the Fitzsimmons mine the Delta W. This coal project is ongoing and everyone that has been involved in the industry or had family members who were, are encouraged to share that story with us.

Dennis Turner loaned his immense hat collection with names of various venders and mines throughout the years. He also displayed a collection of belt buckles and pins with references to the mining industry.

Donna Gaddis Boxler from Wheat Ridge donated a Somerset mine collection containing items belonging to her grandfather, Robert Williams, a mine superintendent from 1914-1941. She grew up in Somerset and graduated from high school in Paonia. The collection has many photos of the town (c1920) as well as records and memorabilia from the mine.

New bookcases were purchased with the thought of displaying the many scrapbooks that were stored away. These are from many old organizations and are now ready for the public to be able to look at and enjoy. Nancy Phillips went through all of them to re-glue loose papers and photos and reorganize them. A lot of them will show how the organizations played an important role in the community.

Larry Spencer donated an old pharmaceutical bottle collection that was stored in the old drug store for years. He wanted to honor the memory of his father with this collection. In 1962, Don Spencer took ownership of the Service Drug with Dick Carruthers. The collection is stored in a cabinet donated by Dennis and Laura Turner. It is located by the Todd doctor office exhibit.

A new display of the bank history shows photos, documents and even a piece of the old flooring from the 1912 First National Bank (which later became The First State Bank in 1930). Delta bricks used in the construction of the 2-story building are also on display. In 1966, this building was torn down and the first story framework was used in the new bank remodel. In 1976, the old Attaway building was torn down to add an extension to the bank building on the east side.

In 1924 the Town of Hotchkiss purchased a fire truck from a company in Elmira, New York, for $1,600 with $400 payments. The town asked farmers living near town to contribute to this endeavor to save farm houses (within a short distance of town) with this truck. Around 1953 the truck, which had been stored in Tuttle's garage on Bridge Street, was transferred to the fire house on Main Street. In 1964 the town gave the old fire truck to the Jaycees, who planned on renovating the old fire truck. The 1980 HCHS minutes reported that the fire truck was offered to this organization. After being in parades and stored in many places the truck ended up at Drake Welch's and last year he asked us to retrieve the truck. The truck will be stored in Paul Schmucker's barn awaiting mechanical work to get the truck running again.

The family of Joan Queen has donated a coat/skirt that belonged to Joan's grandmother. It will be displayed with other dresses we have on exhibit. Joan was an integral part of the progression of this historical society.

We are continually on the lookout for old pictures of the area with people and places of both Hotchkiss and Crawford. Family histories are always welcomed! Anyone wanting to display their family history in a display are encouraged to do so. We are looking forward to a historic year in 2017!

Submitted by
Chuck Farmer

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