Museum of Northwest Colorado: Keeping the Town’s Cars Running
Chet Klock’s “Familiar Faces” column ran for almost half a year in The Empire-Courier newspaper in 1956 and 1957. The second cartoon article of this brief series highlighted Russell Miller, Sr. who owned a local auto parts store. Miller was born in Helena, Montana in 1902 and moved to Craig in the spring of 1931 to work as a bookkeeper for Rocky Mountain Gas. Shortly after his arrival in Craig, Russell met Irene Ferguson and they married the following year. The couple moved to Laramie, Wyoming for a brief while, but after the loss of their infant daughter, they returned to Craig. They purchased the wholesale business of B.K. Sweeney in 1954. The new business, re-named Miller Auto Parts was moved to the old post office building at 465 Yampa in 1955. The Millers ran the business until 1968 when they retired.
In his light-hearted newspaper article, cartoonist Chet Klock described Russell as “a man of solid character and agreeable personality, and easy to get along with.” Klock referred to Irene as white haired and gracious, mentioning that she kept the books for the business under the careful scrutiny of the store’s cat “Sandy.”
Russell died in 1977 after living in Craig for almost five decades. Business people such as Russell are a small but vital part of any rural community. They serve the needs of the local customer in ways that a large corporate big-box store is unable to do. Klock celebrated our local businessmen of the mid-1950s and the large contributions they made to our town, in terms of service and involvement. It is a rich heritage, which many of our local business people carry on today. For displays and information on the history of local businesses, visit the Museum of Northwest Colorado in downtown Craig. The Wyman Museum of Craig and the Hayden Heritage Museum in Hayden are also great places to learn more about our local businesses and their varied histories. The Museum of Northwest Colorado is open Monday through Saturday and as always, admission is free.