Travel back in time at Cross Orchards in Grand Junction | PostIndependent.com
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Travel back in time at Cross Orchards in Grand Junction

Brittany Markert
bmarkert@gjfreepress.com
Uintah Railway narrow gauge carriers are on display for visitors to explore at Cross Orchards. It was restored by members of the National Railway Historical Society.
Julia McHugh |

$5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $3.50 for children or $15 for a family

Step back in time with a visit to Cross Orchards Historic Farm before it closes for the season on Friday, Oct. 31. Volunteers wear period dress and use vintage equipment.

Throughout the site, self-guided tours are offered where volunteers demonstrate what life was like during the early days of Grand Valley’s agriculture — around the late 1800s.

The farm is located at 3073 F Road in Grand Junction. It is open May through October, Thursdays through Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and it’s managed by the Museum of Western Colorado. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $3.50 for children or $15 for a family.



“It’s our mission to preserve, protect and interpret how people worked, lived and played 100 years ago,” Cross Orchards assistant director Kay Fiegel said.



ABOUT THE ORCHARD

In 1896, Cross Orchards was one of the largest of its type in Colorado, spanning 243 acres with more than 20,000 apple trees. Owned by the Cross family, they saw an opportunity to invest their money in what was then a booming business. At one point, the farm operated with more than 50 employees who picked and packed fruit. It operated until 1923.

In 1980, the Museum of Western Colorado acquired the original four-acre lot which contained the historic structures including the bunkhouse and packing shed. The buildings are also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Our agricultural heritage has played such an important role in this valley,” Fiegel said. “It would be a shame to not to protect it.”

The property now hosts 90 apple trees and 24 acres. It was set to be a subdivision before members of the community and local businesses, like Bray & Company Realtors, pitched in volunteer hours and donations to preserve the buildings and land.

“It is truly a labor of love,” Fiegel said. “Before it had weeds taller than the apple trees.”

The combined efforts cleaned the property and created a unique experience for all ages to now visit a farm where interpreters dress in time, using vintage equipment to make butter, apple cider and more.

A volunteer docent and Grand Junction resident, Peggy Pretti, has been involved at Cross Orchards since 1998. She helps make the apple pulp for the apple butter during special events and field trips.

“It’s important to preserve history because there may be a time when the valley doesn’t even grow apples anymore,” Pretti said.

Cross Orchards runs mostly on volunteers with a core group of 30 people to care for the site and dress in time to work as they did decades ago. It continues to search for more volunteers to help around the farm.

For more information, visit http://www.museumofwesternco.com.


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