McKibbin’s Scribblin’s: It’s all about our history
“History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life and brings us tidings of antiquity.” – Cicero, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar and writer.
“To remain ignorant of things that happened before you were born is to remain a child.” – Cicero.
I’ve become a history fan. At least when it comes to local history.
I guess it’s happened gradually, and with age. Maybe with wisdom, too.
At any rate, I found myself totally immersed in what was said by members of the Rifle Creek Museum board of directors about their planned merger with the Rifle Historical Society, another local group that had big plans but, like so many nonprofit, volunteer groups, ran out of support. Not to say the society hasn’t done something good for Rifle, and maybe wouldn’t do more. There are just fewer people around to help out, thanks to the state of the local economy of our time.
So combining the two organizations dedicated to preserving the history of Rifle and it’s area environs makes total sense.
And I’m pretty excited about what they might be able to do. In fact, the museum board has a pretty detailed list, or plan, already printed to help start the ball rolling.
Why should we care?
As I’ve written on this page before, I think one way Rifle could diversify its economy away from an over reliance on the always-up-and-down energy industry is to promote our heritage and history. Cultural and heritage tourism can be big business, if it’s done right. Getting visitors to come to Rifle, see and hear about our beginnings and development, first as a farm and ranching hub in Colorado, then into a thriving community, is an interesting story to hear and tell.
Who better to tell it than the folks who so far have collected and preserved much of our history?
The museum board identified some critical needs – all of which will cost money and can’t be addressed until funding sources are found – like a new heating system, secure windows and doors and other physical improvements to the old city hall and fire department building at Third Street and East Avenue.
I’m even more impressed with some ideas on how to get some of that funding. These would all be small in relation to the need, but some sound like a lot of fun: A scavenger hunt of architectural building details and in the museum, a junior docent program to get our youth involved and supporting the museum, a historic trivia contest, hosting an “antique roadshow” and a “Lincoln for a Lincoln” drive where people are given Lincoln pennies in exchange for $5 bills.
Other ideas may be longer lasting: Creating a “Friends of the Rifle Creek Museum,” similar to the Friends of the Rifle Library; monthly speakers and having an ongoing public presence through community events and social media.
A thought just occurred to me: Work with the folks who oversee the Cayton Guard Station south of Silt, which is another part of Rifle’s past, to help promote it and the museum. Hold an open house at the station and then tours of the museum on some sunny summer weekend. I’d think that might bring in at least a few people from outlying areas, who might spend a little money in town.
I just really like the direction the museum and historical society seem headed. It will be up to us, the Rifle community, to help them get there.
Then we can all be an even more important part of the history of Rifle. The part that helps tell our story.
“We cannot escape history.” – Abraham Lincoln, annual message, Dec. 1, 1862
Mike McKibbin is the editor of The Citizen Telegram.
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Concrete might not be the material supporting it, but Railroad Avenue between Third and Fourth streets is now open to traffic.