Saguache County Museum offers visitors a glimpse of the past

  By Colorado Caliber  |    Posted on June 14, 2017 at 09:58:57 AM

Category: General

We visited the Saguache County Museum during a recent road trip and had a great time meeting the staff and learning about this fascinating slice of Colorado history. Our thanks to June for taking us on a guided tour of the museum, and for her hospitality.

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The following overview is taken from the museum's website and promotional materials.

Before the white man, there were the Utes. The Saguache County Museum (pronounced Sa-watch) occupies an adobe building partially constructed in 1870. It has functioned over the years as a school, temporary courthouse, and a residence for jail-keepers and their families. The old jail, built in 1908, is an adobe building finished with stucco. The interior has a sheriff's office, a women's or VIP call, and a large room or "bull pen" with an escape-proof maximum security cage. The jail was used until 1958. Original graffiti done by prisoners still adorns the walls.

Historic, nostalgic, memorable, and educational are some of the words that describe a visit to the Saguache County Museum. In an age when we are spoiled with easily acquired (and soon discarded) possessions, we can step into the past here and learn from earlier generations. They had to be able to create most of the items they needed, first in order simply to survive, and later to bring more comfort into their lives. They used and cherished their possessions, passing them onto the next generation to save or use until they were worn out or no longer needed.

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The history of Saguache, and exhibits at the museum, are spiced with the story of railroad mogul Otto Mears, Ute Chief Ouray and Chipeta; Spanish and other Native American tribes. 

The museum includes historical artficacts concerning Alfred E. Packer, who was charged in 1874 with murdering, robbing and eating portions of his five prospecting companions. Staffers are prepared to relate the puzzling story of this man, who was at first condemned to death, escaped, recaptured and given the sentence of 40 years for voluntary manslaughter.

The Saguache County Museum also manages the restored Hazard House Museum (just down the block), built in 1913. The house was a gift to the Museum from Georgia Marie Hazard Givan in 1994. It was opened to the public in May 1997. The home depicts the affluent lifestyle and furnishings of the wealthier Saguache families of the 1920 and 1930s.

To learn more about this wonderful museum, click here. The museum is open from Memorial Day through the third weekend in September and is open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. daily. Admission is $7 for adults, $1 for children under 12. The Saguache County Museum is located at 405 8th St. (US Highway 285) in Saguache. 

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