Age taking toll on Last Frontiers group

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After 18 years as president of the Preserving the Last Frontiers group, Vic Beckett of Craig is afraid the organization might be nearing an end.

At 78, he's the youngest member and recognizes that it is getting difficult for many members to make the trips the group plans each month.

"We wanted to try and mark places of history in the country," Beckett said.

"We've done some, but not as many as we'd like."

Founded by Val Fitzpatrick more than 18 years ago, the group aimed to visit historical sites in the area and preserve areas of historical interest.

One of their largest projects was protecting coke ovens southeast of Greystone on land owned by the Mines brothers of Kansas.

The group constructed fences around the four 100-year-old structures to keep livestock from bothering them. They posted informational signage at the site, as well as on various roads pointing the way to visit the ovens.

The brothers deeded the 5-acre plot to the group when they were interested in selling it. Last Frontiers had to incorporate to take over the deed, and managed to get the coke oven site on the National Registry as a historical site.

The group also makes contributions to museums in Craig, Hayden and Steamboat Springs. The group tries to donate to a variety of locations, because members come from Routt County, Meeker and the Snake River area in addition to Craig.

The group makes trips as often as possible in the summer months to places such as Flaming Gorge and museums in Vernal, Utah, and Savery, Wyo. This year the group visited Browns Park and the encampment in Saratoga, Wyo.

During months in which they do not have trips planned, members have a meeting on the last Saturday of the month. Last Frontiers includes 28 members, who pay $5 each in dues for the year.

Beckett said new members are always welcome, and anyone --member or not -- can join the group's trips to historical sites.

He said the purpose of the group is not only to preserve historical sites, but to educate younger generations about the importance of history.

"I bet a lot of young people think we're just a bunch of old fogies grumbling," Beckett said. "I just hope some of it rubs off."

To get involved with Last Frontiers, call Beckett at 824-6631.

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