History Matters

We all know the significance of history in our own lives, but we begin to wonder, sometimes, whether that concept is widely understood in our communities. Others share those concerns, and they have created a new cooperative effort, the History Relevance Campaign (HRC) to remind people why history matters to all of us. At a time when many organizations are struggling with reduced budgets and wavering public support, it’s more important than ever to honor our local history and make sure decision-makers are aware of our interest in preserving our stories and our historic places. History Colorado, our statewide voice for history, has already endorsed the HRC value statement.

We call on organizations to endorse, share, and use this statement on the value of history in contemporary life. With common agreement, commitment, and open conversation about why history is important, we believe the historical community can change the common perception that history is nice, but not essential.

Visit their website at HistoryRelevance.com for more information. Download their statement, The Value of History, here and help them spread the word!

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Transportation Symposium April 30th

Transportation, Preservation & the Evolution of Place
2016 Historic Preservation Symposium

Saturday, April 30, 2016, 9 AM – 3 PM
The Rising Church (Historic Arvada Methodist Church)
7500 W. 57th Ave. in Olde Town Arvada, Colorado

The Jefferson County Historical Commission (JCHC) has teamed up with the City of Arvada and the Arvada Historical Society for an exciting day of educational programs revolving around the theme, “Transportation, Preservation and the Evolution of Place.” The cost of the Symposium is $12 per person (includes lunch at Kline’s).

symposiumAfter lunch, a walking tour of the Downtown Arvada Historic District is planned. The tour will focus on Olde Town history, architectural character, and recent development projects including the proposed site for display of the historic .04 Trolley, listed on Colorado’s Most Endangered Places List (2015).

Download the Symposium information (pdf) or download the registration form.

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Hazel Humphrey’s Dedication to Jeffco History

As we just posted on Elmer Wyland, we thought it best to profile Hazel Humphrey at the same time. This is second in our series for Women’s History Month 2016.

Hazel Humphrey, left, presents Centennial Site plaque to [unidentified] and Elmer Wyland of Fort Westernaire, 1975, on behalf of the Historical Commission.

Hazel Humphrey, left, presents Centennial Site plaque to [unidentified] and Elmer Wyland of Fort Westernaire, 1975, on behalf of the Historical Commission.

Hazel Humphrey, raised in the foothills along Soda Creek where the Humphrey Museum now stands, came by her interest in history naturally. Hazel lived in the 100-yr-old log home in which she grew up for all but her first four years of life. Her parents were avid travelers, collecting wherever they went, and equally dedicated to saving treasures of the past.

Thus Hazel grew up in a personal museum, and bequeathed her home as a museum upon her death. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 as an outstanding example of the architecture of its day, at the end of the same year in which Hazel had helped found the Jefferson County Historical Commission. The property was also designated a Jeffco landmark in 2012.

humphreyRead more about the Humphrey Museum in the 2000 Historically Jeffco magazine. Please note, the Museum has experienced many changes in the last 15 years. Please visit the Humphrey Museum website for current information.

The story of the family and their legacy is also shared in the 2012 issue. For her dedication to Jeffco history, Hazel Lou Humphrey (1917-1995) was honored by the Jefferson County Hall of Fame in 1984.

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Fort Westernaire, Elmer Wyland’s Vision

Thirty years ago this month, the “Red Barn” at Fort Westernaire burned down. Westernaires Alumni posted the story on Instagram and sent us a link via Twitter. Our connection with these folks was triggered when we posted the following photo on Twitter back in January.

Hazel Humphrey, left, presents Centennial Site plaque to [unidentified] and Elmer Wyland of Fort Westernaire, 1975, on behalf of the Historical Commission.

Hazel Humphrey, left, presents Centennial Site plaque to [unidentified] and Elmer Wyland of Fort Westernaire, 1975, on behalf of the Historical Commission.

Elmer Wyland, founder of Westernaires and Hall of Fame honoree.

Elmer Wyland, founder of Westernaires and Hall of Fame honoree.

Elmer Wyland (1900-1983) built the Westernaires out of his enthusiasm for horses and horsemanship, and his desire to serve the young people of Jefferson County. The organization he founded and spent 35 years developing is still going strong today. Elmer Wyland was designated a Jefferson County Hall of Fame honoree in 1986.

In 2005, 5280 magazine profiled Wyland’s project and Glen Keller, Elmer Wyland’s successor as lead wrangler of the famed Westernaires.

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Jeffco Women in and of History

Before Women’s History Month, March 2016, gets entirely away from us, we thought it appropriate to honor the women who have made, or have documented, the county’s history for us and for posterity. Many of these women, more than two dozen, have been named as Jefferson County Hall of Fame Honorees over the years. More than a drop in the bucket, but not full equality by any means.

For Women’s History Month back in 2009, we decided to honor some of the women who have contributed to Jefferson County, particularly in the fields of Government, Education, and Community organizing. We created large posters that were displayed in the atrium at Jeffco Courts & Admin, which introduced visitors to dozens of women, past and present, who have advanced Jefferson County in these important areas. Please remember, as we do, that the women featured here are only a few of the many who could be mentioned in each of these areas of service.

Feel free to read or download these posters at the links below:

governmentFinding a Voice in Government:
Women in public service


educationPutting Women on the Map:
Women in education


communityKeepers of the Flame:
Women in community service

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Hall of Fame: Chief Colorow

Cover of new book on Chief Colorow by Dr. Beth Simmons.

Cover of new book on Chief Colorow by Dr. Beth Simmons.

Chief Colorow was adopted and raised by the Muwache Utes, but was born a Comanche. As an adult, Colorow stood six feet tall and was adept at horse trading. He knew the Spanish and was acquainted with the mountain fur traders, trappers, and military men. Traveling throughout what is now Colorado for more than a quarter century, Chief Colorow knew every trail, tribe, and chief along the way and became a great statesman and respected leader of his people.

According to Rooney family legend, Alexander Rooney (1822-1895), the original settler, smoked the peace pipe with Chief Colorow under the Inspiration Tree. This ponderosa pine, dated at more than 500 years old, honors the longstanding peace between the Rooney family and the Utes.

The name “Colorow” appears on many signs and places throughout Jefferson County—Colorow Point Park, Colorow Road, and Colorow’s “Inspiration Tree” to name a few. On December 11, 1888, Chief Colorow died of pneumonia on the reservation.

The Jefferson County Historical Commission wishes to recognize the historical and factual contributions Chief Colorado made to Jefferson County, our state and nation. Chief Colorow was elected to the Jefferson County Hall of Fame in October 2015.


Until now, Colorow—the real man, chief, and statesman—has been known generally through stories and legends. In fall 2015, historian and researcher Dr. Beth Simmons has published the first detailed biography of Colorow, including previously unpublished photographs and genealogical information. This valuable publication is jointly sponsored by the Friends of Dinosaur Ridge and the Friends of the Jefferson County Historical Commission. Copies are available at the Dinosaur Ridge Visitor Center and the Discovery Center.

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National Register Updates

We are in the process of getting our National Register listing page updated. In the meantime, here’s a quick summary of recent additions.

2015: Bradford-Perley Site

2015: Medlen School

2014: Conifer Junction Schoolhouse
See the National Register page from the Hall of Fame notebook.

2013: Fruitdale School
See the National Register page from the Hall of Fame notebook.

2012: Staunton Ranch (State Park)
See the National Register page from the Hall of Fame notebook.

2012: Golden Cemetery
See the National Register page from the Hall of Fame notebook.

2012: James H. Baugh House
See the National Register page from the Hall of Fame notebook.

2012: Denver & Intermountain Interurban No. 25

2009: Brook Forest Inn
See the National Register page from the Hall of Fame notebook.

2009: Rockland Church
See the National Register page from the Hall of Fame notebook.

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