Friday, November 19, 2010

Construction excitement: new concrete pathways

One of our institutional goals is to continually improve the way the public sees Golden History Museums. We’re working on such diverse items as exterior visibility, branding, and social media.

This week we were very pleased to get one of our goals for the Golden History Center on the fast track: improvement of the creek-side entrance. Battling cold and some light snow, our work crew sneaked in the pouring of cement on two reconstructed pathways as well as a new staircase. We’re excited to see the difference this will make in traffic for our guests. We hope you can come try out the new pathways soon!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Author asks Golden residents for help in documenting Magic Mountain's history

The following was originally published in the Golden Transcript.

In search of Magic moments
Author asks Golden residents for help in documenting Magic Mountain's history
by Linda Detroy Alexander

November 10, 2010 | 03:51 PM
Magic Mountain needed a big sprinkle of fairy dust to be a success, but Disney wasn't sharing Tinkerbell.

The amusement park, part of a grand scheme to build a dozen or more Disneyesque parks across the county, opened its gates on June 30, 1960, but closed for good just two months later. It was the victim of lawsuits filed by Disney against the designer of the park, Marco Engineering (the head of whom was a former Disney vice president) and, poor leadership, or as some say, leaders who lined their own pockets with investors' money.

© Golden History Museums, City of Golden Collection
Bob McLaughlin, an author from Wakefield, Mass., wants to tell the story of Magic Mountain, which is now Heritage Square, 18301 W. Colfax Ave. Magic Mountain was the first of the amusement parks to be built, followed by just two others.

"This is the only one of the copycat parks that still has anything intact," McLaughlin said. "The core four blocks of Heritage Square are all original to Magic Mountain"

McLaughlin is fascinated by the history of the parks and the men who had the grandiose dreams to build them. He has already written books about the others: Pleasure Island opened in 1959 in Wakefield and was billed as the "Disneyland of the East." It too went bankrupt during that first season, but new owners kept it open until 1969.

Freedomland, New York's answer to Disneyland, was built in the Bronx and opened just before Magic Mountain. It also closed its doors because of bankruptcy, lasting only four years.

McLaughlin's books are part of Arcadia Publishing's Images of America series. A prominent feature of the series is the abundant use of photographs.

"If I don't have the photos, it ain't gonna happen," McLaughlin said during a visit to Golden in October. "I'm chasing down bits and pieces of the story, and I need some help."

The help he needs most is from people who remember going to Magic Mountain, and who have pictures or home movies of those trips. Other memorabilia, such as tickets, programs or posters, would also be valuable for the book.

While in Golden, McLaughlin met with Mark Dodge, exhibit and collections curator for the Golden Museums, to find out if those items would be valuable to the museums. Dodge was also able to give McLaughlin some leads on contacting people who were in Golden while Magic Mountain was being developed.

McLaughlin also visited Heritage Square to take photos of the buildings as they look today, walk the railroad tracks around the park, and talk to anyone he could find who remembered the park. With him, he carried a binder crammed with newspaper clippings, photocopies of documents about the park and other bits of its history that he has unearthed as he has crisscrossed the country to do research on the three amusement parks.

"Three years ago, I was in Golden and tried to get people to come out of the woodwork," he said.

He and a friend who now lives in Golden, Bill Robie, put up flyers around town, but didn't get a single response. This time, with the involvement of the History Museums, he hopes he'll have better success.

"If the museums get even one photograph, that's one more than they've got," McLaughlin said.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Smashing Success!

Cemetery tours were a smashing success this year, and I’d like to send out a big thank you to all the volunteers who helped with everything from parking to packing up the supply trucks. The event received wonderful reviews from those who attended, and the cider and homemade cookies were enjoyed by everyone, especially me. Even the weather was good; we only lost one pop tent to the wind!
© Lynne Lawlor Photography

This was the first year lantern tours were offered in the evening, and while the thought of hanging out in a cemetery after dark didn’t originally appeal to my naturally skittish personality, the Golden Cemetery is such a welcoming environment that I felt comfortable there even after the sun went down. Or maybe I was too distracted by trying not to blow myself up with the propane lantern to freak out about the situation.

© Lynne Lawlor Photography
This year we resurrected a few notable people from Golden’s history: Willie Russell, Gertrude Bell, Captain Edward Berthoud, Caroline Millikin, and George and Eliza West. All volunteer ghosts performed their characters beautifully and really brought them back to life for the attendees. In one of the photos, you can see George West staying true to his character as he shows his flask. (Later, he sneaks a drink when his wife Eliza’s not looking.) We also had fantastic tour guides, including local historian Dennis Potter and Rick Gardner as the Keeper of Cemetery Hill.

Finally, I’d like to thank Paul, Jay, and Troy for being incredibly supportive of the event and letting the museums invade their space for a couple weekends, and for letting me drive their maintenance vehicle (despite what I and everyone else was expecting, I returned it in one piece).

Monday, November 1, 2010

Golden in Focus: Historic Photo Show & Sale will open Dec. 3

Golden in Focus: Historic Photo Show & Sale opens on Dec. 3 at the Golden History Center at 923 10th St., in conjunction with Golden’s Candlelight Walk.  Golden History Museums is the City’s oldest museum (we’ll celebrate our 75th anniversary in 2013), and we’re proud to say that we have some pretty cool things in our “attic,” including a fabulous historic photo collection that numbers well over 600 prints. To create Golden in Focus, we invited Scott Dressel-Martin, professional photographer and filmmaker, to examine our collection and help us choose a good selection of images that document Golden’s colorful past.  
Our iconic Golden subject matter is as diverse as the 1934 Golden High School Prom and the Colorado & Southern train yard in Golden, to a group shot of Adolf and crew at Coors Brewery and some gorgeous views of the City taken from high atop the Lariat Trail.

© Golden History Museums, City of Golden Collection
You can even purchase a professionally printed copy, and you’ll feel good knowing that the money you’re spending will help us take better care of our growing collection.

If you don’t see anything you like among the 36 photos on display, just wait, because our collection continues to grow. In case you didn’t realize it, we actively collect all photos that document life in Golden. So, if you have some old photos that chronicle life in Golden, please give us a call. We’re specifically looking for snapshots of Magic Mountain and East Tin Cup, among other spots. Call Mark at 303.278.3557 if you think you can help.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Golden Parks and Recreation National Gold Medal Award Winner

Golden History Museums, part of the City of Golden’s Parks and Recreation Department, is proud to celebrate a recent national award. Here’s the official press release:

Golden Parks and Recreation National Gold Medal Award Winner

Minneapolis, MN., Oct. 27, 2010 – The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), announced the City of Golden Parks and Recreation Department the Grand Plaque Recipient of the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Parks and Recreation Management. The award was announced live during NRPA’s Annual Congress and Exposition in Minneapolis, MN. Golden was nominated as a finalist for the award for the second consecutive year.

The Gold Medal Award honors communities throughout the United States that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition. Each agency is judged on its ability to address the needs of those it serves through the collective energies of citizens, staff and elected officials.

“The Golden Medal Award recognizes our department as one of the top four national leaders in the provision of high quality parks and recreation, the highest honor in the parks and recreation profession,” said Rod Tarullo, Director of Parks, Recreation and Golf.

A requirement for finalists, the Golden Parks and Recreation Department submitted a video demonstrating parks and recreation in Golden.

Golden competed for the Gold Medal Award with three other finalists in population category 25,000 and below including the City of Green River Parks and Recreation Department, WY, the City of Fairfax, VA and the City of Cullman Parks and Recreation, AL.

Watch the video here:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Local History, Local Historians

The thing that makes local history interesting is not just the stories that are told, but the people who tell them. This fall, GHM has been proud to welcome five local historians and collectors to talk with audiences at our new Live at Lunch lecture series. The series kicked off on September 29th with a presentation by local historians (and beloved community members) Lorraine Wagenbach and Betty Bloom. Together, they shared excerpts from their newly re-released book “A Woman’s Life in Golden.” The book—a project of the Golden Delphian Society and originally printed in 1980—features 27 stories by women who called Golden home between 1902 and 1980. Bloom and Wagenbach, the only two surviving contributors in Golden, read some of their favorite touching and humorous excerpts from the book to an audience of nearly 80 people.
The second week was a presentation by local historian and antique dealer, Heather Eckles, about the highly collectable Coors Pottery. She spoke at length about the many unique items that were made here in Golden, specifically the colorful and whimsical “Rosebud Pottery” that was prescient of the better known Fiesta Ware. Last Wednesday, historian and retired sheriff Dennis Potter (and also terrific storyteller) talked about the history of law enforcement in Jefferson County—an enormous and largely lawless territory. He went into great detail about a chilling string of murders that took place in Golden starting in 1868 and claimed nearly 11 lives. Evidence that Potter has collected points to a perpetrator who, although never caught or identified, might well have been the first documented serial killer in world history.
Two more lectures remain. Today, noted local historian Richard Gardener speaks about the popular Foss Ski Country decanters, a highly collectable series of whisky containers made in Golden. Our Live at Lunch lecture series some to a conclusion next week with
John Kellenbenz who will speak about the development of the Golden Fire Department—an indispensable force for any frontier community.
All lectures take place at the Golden History Center. Advance tickets on sale at the Golden History Center; $3 members, $6 nonmembers, includes free admission to museums. Please feel free to bring your own lunch. Reservations are not required, but we recommend purchasing tickets in advance due to limited seating.
We look forward to seeing you there!