Thursday, September 16, 2010


Whenever I visit a museum, I hope to see something different. That was the case, here. Instead of Black Bart, and Joaquin Murietta, local gold rush desperadoes, I heard for the first time about Bob Meldrum, Harry Tracy and David Lant. There were others, no doubt, but Bob Meldrum was particularly intriguing because he was an excellent artist and would draw the scene of his crimes while idling in jail. He also served as a lawman among his many other trades.
Those who were there claimed his depiction of the bartender he shot was a very good likeness.
He was a Marshall when he killed his fifteenth man, young Chick Bowen. He was locked in his own jail and later transferred to prison. He didn't escape charges on this killing.
We were happily taking pictures on the ground floor before entering an upstairs room full of spurs, saddles, horse gear and such. I never did see the sign that asked that no photos be taken in this particular room, which I also learned later is a separate museum, The Cowboy And Gunfighter Museum. I took  several  pictures. Most docents warn you in case you don't see the sign, so I will not include any of them in my blog. There were interesting artifacts in the local part of the  museum, anyway. 
The leather tooling and silver work is beautifully done for an object that had utilitarian use.This is a Spanish spur type.
Notice the silver hearts on this smaller set of spurs, along with the rich leather work.
A later spur made with chrome instead of costly silver. A unique design and a sign of things to follow.

This finely tooled leather saddle was made by a blind man-story follows:
Never had I seen a stand up cash register in all of the museums I've visited. An early, unique type.
  Built like a dresser, it was operated standing up with multiple drawers below the cash drawer.
 Our family used an ice box in the late 1940's. This museum had one open to view the inside. Ours had the ice on top instead of the side. Melted ice water drained down the back into a bottom tray that needed periodic emptying. The family sized milk pail is an interesting piece, too.
A beautiful Indian feather bonnet.
Magnificent beading on it; in perfect shape. Beautiful piece I had only seen in pictures before.
Thrift is a given in the old days but this beats all. Women saved strands of hair. I knew this, but, a hair jar? Never would have imagined it, but it makes sense.
Girls my age actually wore a "rat" to give long hair some loft around the face. You could only buy them in black, if I remember correctly. It was made of a net covered stuffing of some sort, and pinned close to the scalp with "bobbie pins". Then your hair fell over it and covered up the rat. Or, you could form a bun and wrap real hair around the rat.
I had never heard of round bottomed buckets before, either. It seems everyone has use for a bucket and the local town folks would borrow one of the fire buckets with every intention of returning it promptly, which led to bucket less fire trucks. Rounding the bottoms made them pretty useless for anything but fighting fires.
This gas pump from 1924  still works. Gas was sold for 7 cents a gallon, with an additional 3 cents tax.
The museum has a Buffalo Bill Cody saddle and a pair of his fancy gloves. This type of beaded glove, made by Utes and Shoshones was very popular and there are several pairs in the museum. What I didn't know about Buffalo Bill Cody was that during his buffalo hunting days, he realized what a wasteful slaughter it was. He became a conservationist and felt that Indian Heritage should be protected. He was an advocate for hunting seasons, unheard of at the time.
Another thing  the Museum of Northwest Colorado did well is their treatment of local school pictures. An old classroom set up takes up one part of the basement.  The walls are lined with school pictures of all the kids who attended school in Craig.
High School yearbooks sit on a table with chairs around for anyone to browse through and find their parents, or pals. Nicely done.
The museum also has an 11 by 16 foot canvas painted of Craig, Colorado in 1895. Too big to capture on camera, but a real beauty.
Do make it a point to visit this place if you find yourself in northern Colorado west of Steamboat Springs. The Cowboy and Gunfighter Museum has a huge array of guns, some famous pieces; interesting saddles, chaps, leather goods. A huge number of spurs with the history and makers. Photos of real cowboys of Colorado, rodeo gear, whips, grand beaded belts and gloves, and so on. Great Western Americana.

1 comment:

scott davidson said...

Our strange neighbor adores cats and had them everywhere in her house. As if the dozen live cats were not enough, in every room in her house, she has framed prints, large and small, of the blessed animals.0
She says that she orders her canvas prints, like this one by Franz Marc, from who delivers them. Perhaps they can take away a cat or two as well.