Silt: 100 years of rich history
Silt is celebrating its centennial this weekend as a tie-in with its annual HeyDays festival, and, much like the fertile soil that the town was named after, Silt is rich in history.
In the late 1800s, according to the Silt Historical Park, Silt was originally known as Ferguson because of a Mr. Ferguson who owned territory formerly belonging to Native Americans. Once Mr. Ferguson died in 1892, Silt — named after the powdery soil in the area — became the area’s new name.
However, incorporation into Garfield County didn’t occur for another 23 years until 1915, due to disputes with the railroad company. Silt became the last town to incorporate into Garfield.
Pamela Woods, the town manager, said she believes it’s the citizens that reside within the town limits that make Silt what it is today and what it has been for the last 100 years.
“It is a close-knit community. A lot of folks would give you the shirt off their back,” Janet Aluise, community development director, added.
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A walk through the Silt Historical Park, located on 707 Orchard Ave., with tour guide Alice, who refused to share her last name, captured that sense of history.
Authentic saloons, an outdoor prison, a “cow cabin,” a schoolhouse and a grocery story with an adjoining post office were the types of buildings presented in the park that take one back through history. Relics, like an old typewriter, record player and a blacksmith workshop brought that history to life.
Silt was known as an agricultural economy with sugar beets as the main crop sustaining it for most of its early history.
“The state of Colorado produced more sugar than anywhere in the country,” said Chris Classen, vice president of the Silt Historical Park, among other roles.
True to its agricultural past, there are pieces of various farming equipment and machinery strewn throughout the park.
Woods said the Silt Board of Trustees and other members of the town, have been working the last two years planning this year’s Heydays because of the centennial tie-in.
All of the proceeds raised throughout the festivities go back into upkeep for the Silt Historical Park. It’s for a good cause, Woods said.
“It’s exciting. We’ve had a wonderful time with this,” she added.
Nowadays, Silt, like many communities in western Garfield County, is known more for the oil and gas industry. According to U.S. Census data, the town had a population of 165 five years after its incorporation into Garfield County early in the 20th century.
The latest estimate from 2014 puts the population at 3,007.
Silt Police Chief Levy Burris said it’s the colloquial nature of the community that makes new residents feel welcomed.
“Heyday, as in, ‘Hey, how you doing?’” Burris said.
As for why it’s important to know about Silt’s history and maintain the Silt Historical Park, Burris said it’s about building a foundation in order to build a future.
“The lore is the historical knowledge and the value you have a society,” Burris said. “It’s really about establishing that foundation for the youth today and giving them that historical grounding.”
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