From the editor: History alive and well in Moffat County
January 30, 2018
When I was a kid, I hated history — absolutely loathed it — and I think my hatred of the subject arose from my own poor understanding of what it was all about.
Back then, I saw history — and, more specifically, the classes in which I was coerced into learning about it — as an ill-conceived racket designed to make kids memorize the names of an endless procession of people long dead, as well as the dates upon which those long-dead people had done things nobody in his right mind would care about in the first place.
Suffice it to say that, as I grew older, I amended that opinion, eventually arriving at a point at which I could begin to appreciate history, to see it not as a bunch of meaningless names and dates to be memorized and regurgitated on demand, but instead, as a collection of stories, stories about real people — people whose existences were no less real to them than my own is to me.
Once I realized that — that history was a boundless book, filled with stories of adventure, sacrifice, courage, deceit, crime, punishment, love, hate — I realized I had to know those stories — not so much the dates and the names, but the stories.
Those stories are alive and well in Moffat County — stories of pioneers, gunfighters, lawmen, gold mines, coal mines, cattle drives — the list goes on and on. And, beginning this Friday, the Craig Press — through an arrangement with the Museum of Northwest Colorado — will begin hauling those stories out of the museum and back into the spotlight.
Once per month, on the first Friday of the month, the newspaper will publish the History Page, a new feature that will spotlight a historic person or event featured among the museum's impressive collection of exhibits.
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In our first installment of this feature, to be published Friday, we will bring you the story of David Lant and Harry Tracy, a pair of notorious outlaws who, near end of the 19th century, blazed a trail of murder and mayhem across Northwest Colorado, escaping prison three times in the process.
I'm excited to write the story: As Dan Davidson and Paul Knowles, of the Museum of Northwest Colorado, told it to me, I couldn't help thinking the whole thing sounded a lot like a screenplay for a John Wayne movie — full of jailbreaks, posses, gunfights, villains and heroes — and the idea that it all happened right here where we live makes the story all the more engaging.
I really hope you'll enjoy these stories from our shared past, and if you have a subject of particular interest to you that you'd like to see us spotlight, shoot me an email and tell me about it.
And, while you're at it, stop by the museum and take a look at the Lant and Tracy exhibit. I can promise you two things: One, it'll be worth your time; and, two, no one will ask you to memorize a single name or date.
Jim Patterson is editor of the Craig Press. Contact him at 970-875-1790 or jpatterson@CraigDailyPress.com.