Given to towns that have made an important contribution to preserving their Old West heritage.
- Written by John Stanley / TW Editors
- Published January 08, 2013
TOWNS TO WATCH
Durango, CO, to Pagosa Springs, CO
With the designation of nearby Chimney Rock as a national monument, Colorado towns from Durango to Pagosa Springs are likely to shore up their offerings for travelers.
The folks here are sure busy. The Yuma Territorial Prison premiered a new interactive exhibit on Mormon polygamists sent to the prison in 1885 and the town restored its adobe sally port, one of the last original structures from 1876. We can’t wait to hear what’s coming up next.
Saint Jo, Texas
With locals like artist Donna Howell-Sickles and her husband, John, restoring the town’s historical buildings (their fourth restoration was the 1872 Frie Building), Saint Jo is blooming into a charming town centered around its classic 1873 town square.
Amarillo has a great program in its pioneer storytelling tours of the 1888 Llano Cemetery. We’d love to see the city develop more programs around its famous Panhandle ranches, especially the still-functioning JA Ranch founded in 1877 by Charles Goodnight and John George Adair.
The party must be coming to town this year with so many milestones taking place as this 1863 town celebrates its 150th birthday: Gold Rush Days turns 65, Poetry Gathering turns 25 and Fiesta de Septiembre also turns 25.
Between 1886-88, this town more than doubled its population, heralding in its boom days. For nearly a decade the town has been bringing notice to its charms with its remarkable Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering; plus its annual rodeo is the last stop in PRCA rodeo circuit. You can’t say these folks don’t know how to bring in the crowds!
Glenwood Springs, CO
Keep an eye on this town in 2013, with Glenwood Hot Springs celebrating its 125th anniversary and Hotel Colorado turning 120 years old.
No better time like the present than to visit Riverton, which hosts the 1838 Mountain Man Rendezvous that celebrates history dating back 175 years.
This town had the smarts to place its Denver & Rio Grande sites in context by gathering them all in one place back in the 1970s. And its Cattlemen’s Days rodeo is Colorado’s oldest and longest-running. Since Wyatt Earp spent some time here in 1882-83, we’re hoping Gunnison will commemorate his ties to the town in some way.
Council Grove, KS
Santa Fe Trail is this town’s Main Street, and Council Grove is truly a town lost in time. We’re hoping it will mark Augustini’s brief stay 150 years ago (1863) when he resided in “hermit’s cave” and then left Council Grove to walk with a wagon trail more than 550 miles on Santa Fe Trail to New Mexico.
Wild West Junction has been a fun place for folks to see an example of a pioneer town; we’ve heard the place is undergoing restorations and folks have been raving about its Drover’s Inn, so check it all out, and let us know what you think of the changes. Be sure to take a ride on the Grand Canyon Railway while you’re in town.
With Idaho Territory turning 150 in 2013, Boise is about one of the best historic places to visit, as it was founded in 1863; don’t miss its 1872 penitentiary.
Fort Sumner, NM
The 1862 fort is home to Billy the Kid’s grave and to the Bosque Redondo Memorial, which will, hopefully, begin commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Navajo Long Walk this year.
Don’t just see this as the mecca for cowboy poetry; in June 2012, the first federal facility devoted exclusively to the California Trail opened. The $20 million California Trail Interpretive Center overlooks the Hastings Cutoff, a shortcut blamed for putting the Donner Party behind schedule.
Our favorite time to visit Gonzales is during the October re-enactment that commemorates the first shot of the Texas Revolution. Yet “come and take it” has now taken on a new meaning with the city’s GPS-based tour app offered for smartphones. No matter when you’re in town, you get handy access to the city’s historic homes, museums, lodging and more.
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