On our blog, Forward, History Colorado staff and other writers chronicle the latest preservation success stories, share new perspectives on the past, and peer behind the scenes into the care and documentation of our collections.
Read on to learn about how rare collections of historic artifacts and photographs are stored, cared for, and put on view. Find out what Colorado communities are doing to preserve their past for future generations. And, read in-depth histories of Colorado people and events of the past that still matter to us today.
“This is a world class site. It should be a world heritage site.”
That is what Jean Clottes, a famous French prehistorian and world authority on rock art, said when he saw the Shavano Valley for the first time. He had flown in to see the site and meet with Dr. Carol Patterson, who worked for years with Ute historian Clifford Duncan to record and decipher the meaning of the Shavano petroglyphs within Ute contexts.
The Shavano Valley is a gorge in the Uncompahgre Plateau in western Colorado, about five and a half miles west of Montrose in the ancestral homeland of the Uncompahgre Ute. The valley itself is about seven miles long and to its extreme southwest there is a gentle trail that winds up from the valley floor to the rim. And there, on the cliff face and on detached boulders scattered around, hundreds of years of rock art can be found.
Ceramics are an amazing resource for understanding the past, as so much information can be packed into just a single piece. We can understand manufacturing methods based on where it came from; we can study class and economics based on the original cost of the dishes; we can even delve into matters of identity as evidenced by the conspicuous display of fine dinnerwares.
By preserving historic places we can lift up community spirits and the economy. We definitely need more of both as we face the COVID-19 pandemic and the ways it’s changing our lives every day. During these uncertain times, History Colorado's State Historical Fund continues to serve Colorado communities—particularly rural communities.
In the Old Historic Northside of Pueblo, Colorado, there’s a park. It’s no longer the biggest park in the city—that ended thanks to interstate construction in the 1950s—but it has a strange mystique, a stately air reminiscent of a bygone era. This may confuse visitors, transplants, and even younger residents, but there are many in the city and beyond who still remember why Mineral Palace Park has its name.
In the late 1800s, the Gilded Age was in full swing, and Colorado was one of the gems of the nation. Beginning with the Pikes Peak Gold Rush, the state’s mines had produced vast fortunes in metals, minerals, and gemstones. Denver became a center of American high society, and mining magnates went from a few lucky claim-stakers to the nation’s nouveau riche. They were millionaires with riches to rival Rockefeller back east, and they were eager to show it off.
After all, it wasn’t called the Gilded Age for nothing.
Mother’s Day is often seen as a wholesome celebration of the special women in our lives. But for those of us struggling with infertility, the loss of a child or a sister, the mourning of an estranged mother, or myriad other heartaches, Mother’s Day can bring up painful reminders of the relationships with the women in our lives that we cannot celebrate the way we’d like to.
The link between coronavirus and our past isn’t just one straight line to a single disaster or worldwide pandemic. It's a diffuse connection to a number of moments in our history when people were faced with what seemed like overwhelming odds, beyond their control, and they came to realize the best solution was to try and get organized.
One can only imagine their sense of both frustration and hope as they toured Colorado, which in 1893 had become the first state to prohibit discrimination against women voters; nearly a quarter-century later, a woman’s right to vote had yet to be recognized as national law.
As Coloradans shelter in place and work to find a new normal in this time of uncertainty, our mission at History Colorado is now more important than ever: to create a better future for Colorado by inspiring wonder in our past. What can we learn from past public health crises to help us cope with our current one?