Turn back the clock

Museum's 1964 exhibit opens Friday

The gunfighter artifacts and weathered saddles at the Museum of Northwest Colorado are sharing the second floor with the newer items that depict Craig in 1964.

Photographs of the town and its people line the walls of the museum's balcony. In 1964, a grocery store hosted a drawing for a Shetland pony and received 11,000 entries. Moffat County Commissioner Sam Steele shook hands with President Lyndon Johnson. Earthmovers broke ground at the location of the former Valley View Manor.

The museum staff had been planning an exhibit about the 1960s. But the display would have been so expansive, they decided to narrow it down to one year. It seemed fitting, because the Class of 1964 will be having a reunion this summer, said Assistant Director Jan Gerber.

When Gerber walked among the displays, the first things she pointed out were images of the winter of 1964. Giant snowflakes and heaping windrows of snow were captured in black-and-white photos of Yampa Avenue.

"That's back when we actually got snow," Gerber said.

In another winter picture, men stood on a hill south of Craig installing a beacon for the airport. It was set up overlooking Breeze Basin, and the light could be seen for 100 air miles, according to the photo's caption.

The beacon has since been replaced. But Moffat County officials donated the old beacon to the Wyman Living History Ranch, which has been taking shape east of Craig under the direction of Lou Wyman.

On Wednesday, Wyman brought the beacon to the Museum of Northwest Colorado for use in the 1964 exhibit. Wyman and three other men had to remove a banister and prop open the museum's double doors to unload the giant light.

Gerber said the 1964 exhibit was made possible by a generous donation from Chuck and Joann Stoddard. Chuck Stoddard started writing for the Craig Empire-Courier in 1950. He wrote articles, sports columns, editorial columns, and a piece called "Yesterday's News."

Much of the material for the exhibit came from the newspaper. The Stoddards also donated a collection of photos, Gerber said.

There were some artifacts the museum was not able to incorporate, said Mary Pat Dunn, who is helping construct the exhibit.

"We weren't able to find an old metal ice cube tray," Dunn said.

And the museum's collection of clothing predates the 1964 exhibit. Dunn said she had trouble finding examples of clothes in the post-World War II era.

But Dunn said she thinks the display is an interesting slice of American life in the 1960s.

"I think it reflects just about any small town in that era as seen through the eyes of the local newspaper," Dunn said.

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or jbrowning@craigdailypress.com

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