Wingding 2014 Day16

Wednesday July 16




272 miles

San Juan Historical Society and Museum

Location, hours, admission
Opening May 25 for our 2013 season.

Open from 9 am until 5 pm every day of the season, closing in mid-September.

The museum is located at 96 Pagosa Street in downtown Pagosa Springs.

We are at the old Water Works site next to the San Juan River.

Our season runs from mid-May through mid-September.

Currently, we do not charge an admission fee to visit the museum. We do, however, appreciate any donations to offset our operating expenses. We are not supported by any governmental entity and rely solely on donations and sales from our gift shop to pay for our employees, insurance, supplies and utilities.

For 2013, we have expanded our gift shop and hope you will enjoy shopping for gifts for yourself, family and friends.

Founding of the San Juan Historical Society and Museum
By Virginia Decker, 1976

In 1970, Glenn Edmonds put a notice in The Pagosa Springs SUN that there would be a meeting in the R.E.A. Building for anyone who might be interested in starting a Museum to preserve old historical records and items. A large group attended, and with much discussion, a Society was formed with Worthe Crouse as chairman, Louise Kleckner, secretary and Virginia Decker, treasurer. A committee was appointed to submit a name for the Society, which was accepted as the San Juan Historical Society.

With many meetings and discussions, trial and errors, the two most important goals were to raise money and find a location for our Museum. Daily Hott offered the “Old Cabin” on his ranch, originally part of old Fort Lewis. The Town offered us the old Water Works, to be occupied when the new water system would be finished. This was a good offer, but we needed more room.

At this time the Job Corps program of the U.S. Forest Service was phasing out, and there were lots of buildings no longer being used out there. By the time we thought of asking for one, however, they had all been given away to various concerns. The small building at one end of the gym was about the right size for us, so we contacted Rod Blacker, the Forest Supervisor, and he told us that the gym had been given to the Navajo Tribe Fair Committee at Window Rock, Arizona. With many phone calls and after much red tape, the Forest Service helped us acquire this “wash room” from the Navajo Tribe — but we had to remove it before the gym was moved to Window Rock.

Most of that summer a group of concerned, and I might add ambitious, citizens went out after working hours, night after night, to dismantle the inside walls, which were made of cement blocks. We took them down, cleaned the mortar off and stacked them to be hauled and used again after the building was moved. We acquired the bathroom and shower fixtures as well.

Worthe Crouse volunteered to move the building for us, so with him and the good help of his son George, we got the building moved to its present location. We now had to get money and donations for a foundation and floor to put the building on. This was done with our Membership Drive and donations of money and help and materials. Vic and Al Montano donated labor. Riverside Ready Mix donated cement and the County filled the Water Works Room with rock so the floor could be poured at the same time. Milton Scheining roughed in the plumbing. Rob Snow volunteered to help with welding and the lumber mills donated lumber, and we were ready for the building.

Lucille Kleckner and Virginia Decker made a trip to Durango to the State Highway Department to acquire a permit allowing us to move the building down the highway, which had to be closed to traffic while the building was en route.

Worthe and George Crouse and their crew had constructed a heavy frame on a large truck, which allowed them to drive the truck into the building, rest the building onto the frame, and then drive the truck with the building on top, right onto the highway. This process was done twice, since the building had to be cut in two — it was too large to move in one piece. After the two sections were placed on the cement platform, the building was welded back together, ready to house the Museum.

Milton Scheining did the plumbing for the bathrooms, and Ralph Phelps completed the electrical wiring after the first electrician left the job unfinished. Dennis Kleckner did some additional electrical wiring, and Bob Sivers helped with gas heaters. Now we had our Museum, but we had to fill it. Ruth Adams had a small museum in a shed, and donated the items to us to give us a good start. Some things she gave us outright and some are on loan. The Citizens Bank gave us checks with the Society’s name on them. We have had donations of money from Fred Harman, Mary Aicher, V.A. Poma, June Lynch, Harry Wisdom, Archuleta County Abstracts, Mrs. Fred Cooper, O.W. Crowley, J.W. Hershey, Archie Toner, Pagosa Boxing Club, Riverhead Telephone, San Juan Supply, Dailey Hott, Gen. G.P. Saville, and David Smith Cement.

Last, but by no means least, the Title Ten Program came to the Pagosa area and to our good fortune they put us into their program and built some wonderful things for the Museum. They moved into our building when the weather got bad, and they built shelving, room dividers, and an office, which we are so proud of.

The office includes the old “Pay Cage” from the Hersch Mercantile Building, which was donated to us by Hal Franklin, and the old Chromo Post Office fixtures donated by Fitzhugh Havens. I do hope we haven’t left anyone out as we have had so many kind people who have helped and worked all these years to put this together. Since 1970, Louise Knowlton succeeded Worthe Crouse as chairman, and at her death Earl Mullins became chairman. We were very saddened at the loss of Louise as she and Virgil were very strong supporters and did a lot to start us off on our venture. Genevieve Olson replaced Lucille Kleckner when she moved to Durango. Virginia Decker remains treasurer.

We feel we have now reached the top, and it is all taking shape. We could us a lot more interested people, items, records, pictures and anything you would like to have on display in the Museum. We hope it will last through the years to come, and hope that everyone will help to preserve the “Good Ole Days.”

Metal art exhibit

Detail of an eagle sculpture by welder, teacher and community leader Worthe Crouse. This is just one of the art pieces by Mr. Crouse on display at the museum.

Metal art by Worthe Crouse is a part of the blacksmith exhibit. Pieces include an eagle perched on a rock with a fish in its grip, an elephant, columbine, coral and more.

Mr. Crouse was one of the founding members of the historical society. At the first meeting of citizens interested in preserving area history, he was elected president of the newly formed society.

Mr. Crouse went to work at the Job Corps in the mid 1960s where he taught welding. This led to him teaching a class to high school students. Upon the closing of the Job Corps, the students were then bused to his own shop where the classes continued. Eventually this led to the classes being based at the bus barn, then near the elementary school, and the class offering was expanded to include auto mechanics.

Mr. Crouse was proud that he was able to teach students skills so that they could become gainfully employed upon leaving school.

Stop in to see the work of this community leader, teacher and artist.


Henry Gordon’s saddle

Henry Gordon, 1832-1934

This saddle, which belonged to cowboy Henry Gordon, is just one of several in the farm and ranch display.

One of the saddles in our farm and ranch exhibit belonged to Henry Gordon.

Born in Missouri in 1832 Henry lived in Oklahoma and then Texas. It was in Texas that he met the O’Neal and Keith families. He came to New Mexico with them in about 1874. Later they homesteaded on the Pine River and in 1886 came to settle in Archuleta County. You can see the headstones for the Keith and O’Neals in the Pagosa Springs Cemetery section on this website.

Henry Gordon homesteaded north of Pagosa Springs and Gordon Creek is named for him.

This cowboy died in 1934 at Pagosa Springs. He was 101 years old.

We are fortunate to have this saddle and photo of Henry Gordon in our collection.





The Oppenheimer chair

Chair which belonged to J Robert Oppenheimer and was used by him during his time at Los Alamos Laboratory.

An interesting piece in our collection is the chair used by J. Robert Oppenheimer during his tenure at Los Alamos Laboratory.

So what is the connection to Pagosa Springs?

Robert’s younger brother was Frank Oppenheimer. Frank also worked on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos. Following the completion of the project and after some political difficulties, Frank and his wife, Jackie, purchased a ranch near Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

Frank taught science in the high school in Pagosa Springs for a couple of years before moving on to teach at the University of Colorado and later creating a museum in San Francisco, California.

This is just one of the unexpected treasures you’ll find in our museum.



Flood of 1911

Photo courtesy Jim Godfrey
Pagosa Junction, Colorado in the aftermath of the flood of October 1911.

October 5, 1911 Archuleta County was victim of a devastating flood. An estimate of property loss was reported in The Pagosa Springs SUN at $1,000,000.

All county bridges were reported “out.” This included the bridge in downtown, which also held the pipeline for the town’s water supply. Following the flood a cable was suspended across the river to provide a way for people to cross the river, and a way for food to be passed to the other side.

The SUN reported 10-15 residents in the park area and along Hermosa Street were destroyed with another 40-50 damaged to a “great extent.”

The Dr. Nossaman residence, about a mile upstream, was also a total loss.

The electric plant was also reported to be a complete loss.

Train tracks were washed out, halting train service and mail delivery to Pagosa Springs.

Areas surrounding the town were also affected.

Edith suffered heavy losses and the sawmill there was shut down due to the damage.

Pagosa Junction suffered heavy flooding as we can see from the photo above provided by Jim Godfrey.

In the Dyke area west of Pagosa Springs farmers and ranchers lost hay, grain and crops. “One sheep man lost all of his wool and camp,”  was reported in The SUN.

In the Blanco region of southern Archuleta County crops were also lost.

Fortunately, only two lives were lost in the flooding — Jake Dowell and his son-in-law Mr. Turner died as they were attempting to clear drift wood that had lodged above their blacksmith shop on Mill Creek.

Flood details from The Pagosa Springs SUN of October 6, 1911.



Ludlow Monument

File:Ludlow Monument Cropped.jpg

This monument, commemorating the massacre of miners and their families during a labor dispute in 1914, is a sad and sobering site that is a must for all working men and women. Eighteen men, women, and children from the ages of 3 months to 45 years old were shot and burned to death by Colorado militia , company guards, and 'detectives' hired by the coal company.


Ludlow strikers tent colony


The Ludlow Massacre

After they burned the tent colonyThe date April 20, 1914 will forever be a day of infamy for American workers. On that day, 18 innocent men, women and children were killed in the Ludlow Massacre. The coal miners in Colorado and other western states had been trying to join the UMWA for many years. They were bitterly opposed by the coal operators, led by the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company.

Upon striking, the miners and their families had been evicted from their company-owned houses and had set up a tent colony on public property. The massacre occurred in a carefully planned attack on the tent colony by Colorado militiamen, coal company guards, and thugs hired as private detectives and strike breakers. They shot and burned to death 18 striking miners and their families and one company man.  Four women and 11 small children died holding each other under burning tents. Later investigations revealed that kerosine had intentionally been poured on the tents to set them ablaze. The miners had dug foxholes in the tents so the women and children could avoid the bullets that randomly were shot through the tent colony by company thugs. The women and children were found huddled together at the bottoms of their tents.

The Baldwin Felts Detective Agency had been brought in to suppress the Colorado miners. They brought with them an armored car mounted with a machine gun—the Death Special— that roamed the area spraying bullets. The day of the massacre, the miners were celebrating Greek Easter. At 10:00 AM the militia ringed the camp and began firing into the tents upon a signal from the commander, Lt. Karl E. Lindenfelter. Not one of the perpetrators of the slaughter were ever punished, but scores of miners and their leaders were arrested and black-balled from the coal industry.

A monument erected by the UMWA stands today in Ludlow, Colorado in remembrance of the brave and innocent souls who died for freedom and human dignity.

In December, 2008, the U.S. Department of the Interior designated the Ludlow site as a National Historic Landmark. "This is the culmination of years of work by UMWA members, retirees and staff, as well as many hundreds of ordinary citizens who have fought to preserve the memory of this brutal attack on workers and their families," UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said.

"The tragic lessons from Ludlow still echo throughout our nation, and they must never be forgotten by Americans who truly care about workplace fairness and equality," Roberts said. "With this designation, the story of what happened at Ludlow will remain part of our nation's history. That is as it should be."

The dedication ceremony was held at Ludlow on June 28, 2009.





The Greener Side

Hours & Info
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ADDRESS3321 S. Interstate 25
Pueblo, CO, 81004
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