Neton’s Then and Now: Welcome to Moffat County history |

Neton’s Then and Now: Welcome to Moffat County history

James Neton
James Neton

As a social studies teacher at MCHS, the invariable question that always arises from students is, “Why do we have to learn this stuff? It doesn’t mean anything to my life.” Even though social studies teachers groan at this question, it is one we must try to answer for students each and every day. Some days we are successful. Some days we are not.

This question is valid for adults as well. During the past year, as issues such as the sage grouse, litigation against our local coal mines and EPA emissions standards for power plants came to hover over our corner of Colorado, questions started to come to mind. I started to think about how our community would respond to these detriments to our town. Then, I began to ponder how we have responded to any variety of difficulties in our history, and could that give insight into how we will respond to our present situation? Just like high school students ask, I started to ask myself, “What meaning does the past have on our present? How has our local history shaped and helped determine how we go about interacting with the world at large?” After a while, the idea for this column was born.

Moffat County has a fascinating history. For me, local history is where the massive world and national events become real. It is here, at the local level, where we can still feel those long ago moments through people, names, and places that resonate with us. How our small part of the world was involved in massive worldwide or national events strips away the sometimes nameless, faceless, factual nature of history that can be devoid of the emotions and drama we feel when the events are actually occurring. From our local history we can better relate to the world at large and then learn about how we currently think and behave.

It is our great fortune that we have a place that allows us to dig into and experience what was, where we can still find and feel the emotion of our past — the Museum of Northwest Colorado. Dan Davidson and his staff have preserved and displayed our history and made this type of column possible. With their enthusiastic help and access to the archives, it is my goal to get us thinking about the past, present, and our future as a community.

The Museum staff is currently planning and working to commission a World War II memorial for our town by January 2016. As monumental as the World War II era was to the United States and the rest of the world, so it was with Moffat County. That’s where we will start and examine how the vortex of war reached down into Moffat County.

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