New Castle creates strolling museum downtown
January 13, 2017
New Castle is celebrating Founders Day this year with a new attraction: the unveiling of its “Museum on the Street” honoring the town’s history and landmarks.
The “museum” comprises 10 historical locations significant to the mining history of New Castle. It’s a combined effort of New Castle’s Downtown Development Group, Town Council and public works staff.
Marketing executive and Downtown Development Group volunteer lead Jerry Touslee got the idea after seeing a similar display while on a vacation.
“I wanted to do this with the mission of trying to improve downtown,”Jerry said. “Beautification (and) trying to think of ways to get people to visit downtown New Castle.”
The planning and preparation took about a year and a half, complete with presentations to Town Council, landmark selection, and production and writing for the directory signs.
“We looked for buildings that had a story to tell,” said Touslee. “Something of interest for the people to actually get a flavor of the heritage of New Castle.”
Added Town Planner Tim Cain, “We want it to reflect a sense of pride that we have in our town.”
Among the locations is the site for the Colorado Midland Railroad Depot, which according to the “Walking Tour of Downtown New Castle” article on the city website, was used by President Teddy Roosevelt while on a hunting trip in 1905. By the early 1960s, the depot was removed.
Other historic locations include St. John’s Episcopal Church and Trimble Block. According to New Castle’s “Historic Resources Survey,” St. John’s is said to be “the oldest remaining religious structure in New Castle.” Trimble Block is the former location of New Castle’s first telephone office, and its first telephone operator, Mrs. E. Trimble.
All museum locations can be accessed off Main Street with the exception of one landmark.
“The historic Highland Cemetery is up over the Hogback, outside of town over by the golf course,” Touslee said. “That’s a really significant site because there are coal miners from the 1880s that are buried there.”
Mayor Art Riddile is enthusiastic about the new attraction.
He hopes the project will bring more traffic to the downtown businesses and educate visitors on the charming history the town has to offer.
“It’s a very eye-appealing project and it’s easy to follow,” Riddile said. “Behind every structure, there’s a character story, so there is some fun information.”
Though the project has not yet been formally introduced, it appears the public has already taken interest in the display.
“It wasn’t more than an hour or two that we had the signs in place, that people were already following it,” said the mayor. “That was really neat to see.”
The attraction is said to be formally unveiled on Feb. 25, New Castle’s Third Annual Founders Day, in conjunction with a lunch at the New Castle Community Center.
Residents are encouraged to stroll down Main Street and enjoy a blast from the past. The museum’s directory sign is in Ritter Plaza.
For more information on the museum, go to http://newcastlecolorado.org/museum-on-the-street.