A volunteer and writer for History Colorado, Brian Cooke has a degree in journalism/science writing from Lehigh University. In his spare time, he works as a freelance environmental writer for the Forest Service and as an editor on National Park Service reports. He is currently seeking a master’s degree in natural resource stewardship and a certificate in conservation communications from Colorado State University. Brian’s website is http://briancooke.writersresidence.com/.
On a lonely stretch of highway about 100 miles north of Denver, there’s a sign for a town where no town exists: Virginia Dale, Colorado. There’s a boarded-up post office, a tiny community church, and a Colorado historical site marker that may or may not catch your eye as you drive by on US Highway 287 at seventy-five miles an hour.
One of the many advantages of living in Colorado is the easy access to Rocky Mountain National Park and its eastern “gateway” town, Estes Park. While Estes Park’s proximity to the National Park is certainly a major draw, there are many sights worth seeing in the downtown area, especially if you’re interested in a bit of history.
Imagine that your grandfather was a San Francisco ferryboat captain who transported the notorious gangster Al Capone to Alcatraz Island, and that, as a memento of the occasion, he quietly pocketed the key to Capone’s handcuffs. Now imagine that this small key—this tiny piece of history—stayed in your family for a few generations, until one day you got the idea that perhaps it should be rescued from your sock drawer and sent to a museum somewhere. But where should it go? Is there a museum for keys?