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Discover local history in Silt

Ian Mendoza contemplates artifacts at the Silt Historical Park while George Cutting provides a tour for his family.
Will Grandbois / Post Independent |

Schedule of Events

July 23: Tall tales of the mountain man and sea shantys at 7 p.m.

July 30: Hey Day, Quilt Show, Vintage photos & tractor show

August 12: ilt Jam at 7 p.m.

September 17: Defiance Stringband at 7 p.m.

October 1: Start of month long Art Show

October 31:Halloweenie

As the Silt Historical Park continues to host more summer events, visitors and locals alike are discovering what the free resource has to offer.

Located at Orchard and Eighth in Silt, the park is a veritable village of authentic frontier buildings moved to the site from all over the county.

The park was founded in 1983 by a group of local ranchers on a site that formerly hosted the high school football field.



“We wanted to have it like it was back then,” said founding member Alice Jones. “And we’re going to keep it that way.”

The main building is actually the town’s first library, and other highlights include the Sallee family cabin from up West Divide Creek and the schoolhouse from the town of Austin, which now lies under Rifle Gap.

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There’s also a wide array of old farm equipment and other implements. From the road, the most obvious feature are the pair of old boxcars.

“Outside, you don’t really realize what it is. There’s a lot more than meets the eye,” observed vice president Chris Classen. “Everything here has been donated. All the buildings. All the artifacts.”

The organization has enjoyed strong support from the town and county but has struggled with obscurity.

“We have a whole town here where most places only have a single building, but you can find people who live here in Silt who have never been here and don’t know it exists,” observed board member Randy Gorsett. “It’s a shame we don’t have more people, young or old, interested in the history of the area.”

Four years ago, faced with low attendance and a lack of volunteers, board member Pattie Peterson decided to book R.W. Boyle’s Doc Holliday to encourage people to visit the park. The effort was a success, and it has snowballed from there. Most of the park’s own events have a historical element, but there’s plenty of variety.

They’ve hosted impersonators of the likes of Mark Twain, Teddy Roosevelt and Kid Curry, done workshops on wild food foraging, flintknapping and blacksmithing, and even run a frog jumping contest.

Annual events include a winter celebration in December and a chautauqua with various period demonstrations.

“It’s really fun to kind of open kids’ eyes to how difficult it was and how they take so much for granted now,” said board member George Cutting.

“You can sort of see the foundations of what the town of Silt was built on,” agreed board member John Brogan.

The park is also heavily involved with Heydays, with a pancake breakfast fundraiser and alcohol proceeds donated by the town. Private events are becoming more common, with plenty of space in the central square and some indoor room in the schoolhouse.

Several events sponsored by other organizations have also begun to take advantage of the space, including Silt Jam the second Friday of each month and recently formed farmers market Monday nights from 6-8 p.m.

The upshot is more people in the park, though more members, volunteers and visitors are always appreciated.

For more information, visit http://www.silthistoricalpark.net or stop by 707 Orchard Ave. in Silt.


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