A piece of homestead history

New display at Museum of Northwest Colorado depicts life in a wild and rough country


David Kline was a 64-year-old widower when he took his pension from the A&P grocery stores and headed west from Pennsylvania.

Ending up in Moffat County in 1917, he staked his claim to a 160-acre homestead near Cedar Mountain north of Craig.


Kline's story is being told each day in photographs and artifacts from his cabin at the Museum of Northwest Colorado's new exhibit located upstairs.

The Moffat County Home-

steader exhibit depicts life in a wild and rough country, where people used whatever was available to build a shelter.

'What's very interesting is the different types of structures in the display," Dan Davidson, museum director said. "There were dugouts, vintage Craig homesteads made from logs, and around 1910 a whole bunch of board and batten buildings appeared in locations around the county."

Homestead history enthusiasts will be taken back in time by the photos of the Templeton homestead near Sunbeam, where Will and Henry built a double-long homestead so they and their wives were not overcrowded living together in one room.

Building materials of all kinds were used on homesteads.

The Farrell homestead near Maybell was an adobe-brick structure constructed in 1892.

Tyree and Margaret Berry of Massadona in 1910 used rough-hewn logs to build the house that would eventually be home to their 12 children.

Taking ideas from his native Great Britain, Thomas Emerson built his homestead out of flagstones, and his thatched-roof contained dirt more than a foot-thick. The Emerson homestead walls still stand today north of Lay.

As the photograph's detail, lumber mills changed the way homesteaders "proved up" their property. Rough-sawn lumber was used on the Scott homestead near Cedar Mountain in 1917, but Frank "Doc" Barnes had rough-sawn planks on his dugout in Lily Park by 1902 when he established a post office there.

Some structures were planks with tarpaper covering the gaps between boards.

On the Jack Mathers' homestead southwest of Great Divide 2,000 cottonwood saplings were planted at the location on Spring Creek in 1916.

The Shelton homestead on Wolf Mountain was a rare, two-story structure built from wood salvaged from the Shuffelbeam Hotel in Maybell.

Lewis Hellebust's interior photo shows a bachelor's homestead, with guns and fishing rods prominently displayed. Hellebust stopped in Craig while bicycling around the west in 1910 taking pictures.

And always aware of the camera's presence, a photo from the Van Tassel homestead shows a man plowing a field in a fine hat and overcoat.

The photographs are a compilation of pictures from the Museum of Northwest Colorado, the White River Museum and the Denver Public Library.

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