Kight column: Historical societies house our common heritage |

Kight column: Historical societies house our common heritage

Bill Kight

We are Glenwood history — you, me, all of us. What story will we leave when we’re gone? Does anybody care? Do you?

As our world changes, so does our historical society. We no longer collect only paper records, photos and old things. We are the digital archivists of this special place we live in. The technology is here that records our lives for our children and grandchildren. It’s digital high-definition video recording.

Working with Colorado Mountain College, we will be preserving the time-lapsed footage the college’s camera captured of the total Grand Avenue bridge construction process. It will be housed in our archives and available to the public.

But where is the video of your life, your family, your story? Through a partnership with Versatile Productions videographers, we harness the technology to record your life story. We can do it if we apply a dedicated funding mechanism.

We are losing our history every time a community builder passes away without capturing a living record of his or her legacy.

What is the foundation and fabric that makes a place special? It’s the people. Without people’s stories there is no sense of community; no sense of where history is headed.

The past gives us a way to measure what life means to us today, a way to see how we can carry the opportunities left us by our common heritage into the future.

Where does one find that common heritage? It’s housed in our local historical societies, in their archives and artifacts gifted by the people for safekeeping, for reference, for display and for future generations.

But we have outgrown our “history house” at 1001 Colorado Ave. Important records and artifacts are crammed into a basement where water leaks after a summer rainstorm. The Rifle Historical Society museum isn’t open in the winter because the building has no heater due to lack of money.

There are seven historical societies in Garfield County, and several of them may not be able to continue to operate in 2018 due to a lack of funding. They include: the Grand Valley Historical Society, Rifle Heritage Center and Museum, Silt Historic Park, New Castle Historical Society, Mount Sopris Historical Society, Glenwood Railroad Museum and the Glenwood Springs Historical Society.

Historical societies are doing all they can to stay open and serve the public. The Glenwood Springs Historical Society, partnering with Roaring Fork Events, obtained liquor licenses for the summer market in Sayre Park, the Wild West Fermentation Fest and the downtown Fall Harvest Festival. That netted us a couple thousand dollars.

Support also comes from membership dues, donations and our annual Ghost Walk, which takes place the last three weekends in October. Those proceeds enable us to stay open during the winter.

The Doc Holliday Collection we opened this past summer in Bullock’s basement is part of a plan that will position history to become an economic engine for tourism in downtown Glenwood Springs. That space’s monthly admission receipts pay for the loan we took out on the infamous derringer. That loan will be paid off in 2½ years.

For the past year, a group of residents supporting Garfield County history has been working to place a measure on the ballot for the Nov. 7 election that will help to partially fund all seven societies. It will sunset after 10 years.

This grassroots effort comes from people concerned that we are losing our way of life and our special places.

By creating a “Historic Garfield County Advisory Board,” composed of seven residents appointed by the Board of County Commissioners to oversee the funds generated by a tiny mill levy increase, we can thrive.

The increase amounts to one cup of $3.24 coffee per $100,000 assessed property value for home owners (see:

Help us preserve our past and tell the collective story of how we fit into the long march of history. Vote yes on 1A.

This is a monthly column by Glenwood Historical Society’s executive director.

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