Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Agritourism in Colorado

Colorado agritourism welcomes locals and visitors to connect with their heritage through its agriculture. The Colorado State University Extension Office reported in 2006 that more than 13 million visitors spent $2.2 billion in such agritourism activities as farm visits, farmer's markets and winery tours, rodeos or stock shows and horseback riding.

You can enjoy some of our agricultural heritage on March 13-15 in Cortez at the Four States Agricultural Exposition. Now in its 32nd year, this event is held at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds. Some of my favorite events are the antique tractor show and tractor pull, and the stock dog exhibitions. This year I may take in a session on pack mules and packing techniques from veteran Federal Government packer, Glenn Ryan, or maybe the forum on wildfires and fire management.

If you are in the Four Corners, come by Cortez and check it out.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Rolling Down the Tracks with Steam Powered Locmotives

"Trains" seemed to be the theme for me for 2013.   I enjoyed a season pass on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and rode a number of times in spring, summer and fall. Next up is a ride on the winter train over the holidays.

I also got a ride on the inaugural run of the recently restored Locomotive 463 on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. What a treat to see that vintage engine all steamed up and puffing from Antonito to Chama.
Here's a survivor from the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad all ready to go in the Antonito yard.
This fall, my husband and I travelled to Strasburg, Pennsylvania, where we took a short railroad excursion through cornfields and the Amish farmland.  Strasburg is home to the magnificent Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania .  I've never seen so much rolling stock from so many eras of American Railroading all under one roof. 
Getting the locomotive ready in Strasburg

I loved this beautiful blue engine at the  Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

Monday, July 29, 2013

New Historic Byway

Railroads hurtled America into a era of production and prosperity. When the iron horse arrived, Americans parked the wagon in the barn,  shifted into second gear and never looked back.

Southern Colorado and northern New Mexico are home to the last surviving remnants of the great Denver and Rio Grande Narrow Gauge Railroad. The Durango & Silverton and the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, two National Historic Landmarks, operate on parts of the line and now they are sponsoring an effort to create an automobile byway along the route of the railroad that once connected their two depots at Durango, Colorado, and Chama, New Mexico.

Lucky me, I've been hired to oversee this effort.  A new byway would be the 26th in Colorado and would extend a shorter segment of one of the 25 in New Mexico. The route is really fascinating, travelling through old farming settlements, into some pretty wild country along the Navajo River and across both the Southern Ute and the Jicarilla Apache Reservations. The Tribes have offered their support, along with the counties and cities in New Mexico and Colorado.The bridge in the photograph above is a survivor from the old D&RG Railroad route.  I'm really looking forward to working on this great project. 

I've put together a website to keep people updated about the progress of the railroad byway project. You can find it at www.railroadbyway.wordpress.com .  Or you can check back here or at my website at www.thehistoricalconsultant.com for more information.

Here are links to the two railroads. The Durango & Silverton, which provides service between the two towns in its namesake in vintage passenger cars pulled by vintage locomotives is at www.durangotrain.com . The Cumbres &Toltec Scenic Railroad operates between Chama, New Mexico and Antonito, Colorado, along a spectacular route with historic steam locomotives.  Check them out at www.cumbrestoltec.com .

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Thanks to San Juan Dryland Radio!

Thanks to  KSJD (yes that is K- San Juan Dryland) Radio, I was able to work with Linda Towle and the Cortez Historic Preservation Board to talk about history and historic preservation projects in Montezuma County. They have a lot going on there, from restoring the last remnant of the old Montezuma Water Company Flume, to helping place a historic grain silo on the Colorado Engangered Places List, to encouraging property owners to list their important historic homes on the Cortez Historic Register. The radio station is located in one the town's beautiful historic stone buildings that once was the home of the Montezuma Valley Bank. Listen in to our conversation at http://www.ksjd.org/audio.cfm?mode=detail&id=1243553663342

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Family Roots and Architecture

I guess I can partly blame my DNA for my passion for historical buildings. My grandfather and my brother are both architects, and my dad might also have practiced that profession if he had not grown up during the Great Depression. My grandfather, Robert E. Seyfarth, worked mostly in the Chicago area for more than 50 years between 1898 and 1950. The photo of the red door at one of his houses is from a website where you can see his designs at http://www.Robertseyfartharchitect.com. Of course I have a bias, but I think his home designs are very graceful. My grandfather got his start working for the architect, George Maher, and you can clearly see Maher's influence in grand dad's earliest designs. Maher was on the cutting edge of Prairie Style architecture. There is a new Maher website at http://www.georgemaher.com. My brother tells me that some of Maher's furniture and interior finishes are very "hot" on the collectible market right now. I wish I had received some of my family's artistic genes; but since I did not, I spend a lot of time and energy studying interesting architecture and analyzing how the designs and materials reflect the values and technologies of their times. I never knew my grandfather--he died before I was born, but I "know" him through his buildings, a lovely legacy he left for me and everyone else.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Wooden Skis and Deep Canyons

If you are a fan of canyon country or old time skiing in Utah, check out these two new books.  I have an inside scoop on both books because the authors are good friends with great stories to tell. In "Wooden Skis",  you can read all about the founding and development of the unparalleled ski area of Alta, Utah. Kim Morton tells the tales of her father, the legendary Chic Morton, and his lasting impact on Alta. Kim has mastered the burden (and honor) of being the child of a famous figure in ski area history, by carving out her own place in the world of skiing. She is a ski professional who was nationally honored as "Ski Instructor of the Year", complete with a rather strangely out-of-place recognition ceremony in New York City.  Do they ski there??  Her book is available on Amazon.  Also at Amazon (thanks to their self-publishing program) is a wry book about the history of Trail Canyon, a beautiful place located southwest of Cortez near the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument. This is no nature book.  While it introduces you to the beauty of the country near McElmo Canyon, this volume is full of wonderful anecdotes about the people who have attempted to live in this very demanding place.  The book is called "Trail Canyon: 6 Miles Long, 10,000 Years Deep." The major four instigators of the book, nicknamed the odd quad, share their stories with the help of a local Durango writer. Look for it on Amazon under the title or via the lead writers, Howard "Bud" Poe and Ann Butler.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

History makes a little money...

A historic square grain silo near Mancos, Colorado tells of the state's agricultural roots.

Heritage Tourism seems to making inroads in Colorado these days. The State Tourism Office has paired up with the state's Department of Agriculture to sponsor nine workshops to learn about opportunities to develop Colorado history and agriculture. I created a heritage tourism resource book for the Southwest Colorado Travel Region and the State Tourism Office.  You can see it and learn about heritage tourism in that corner of the state at http://www.swcoloradoheritage.com/about-our-heritage/downloads/heritage-preservation-toolkit/Preserving%20History%20WorkbookFinal.pdf/view
At the local level, check out my article "Exploring Telluride's Mining Past" in Headwaters Magazine, http://www.cfwe.org/flip/catalog.php?catalog=hw28 and Lake City's "Guide to Buying History" at http://issuu.com/lc_dirt/docs/buyinghistoryguide?mode=embed&layout=http%3A%2F%2Fskin.issuu.com%2Fv%2Flight%2Flayout.xml&showFlipBtn=true   Happy reading.