There is a wealth of history behind every small town. Even so, it is not uncommon to live somewhere for decades and still not know much about the people and events that shaped the place. While there may be statues and monuments in the town park commemorating important moments and individuals, the origins of simple things like street names are largely uncelebrated and seemingly lost to history. But every corner, house, and hill has a past and historians have a shared understanding that past fosters connection, reveals shared experiences, and teaches us more about the human condition.
When we learn about the local inhabitants who first broke ground in our hometowns, we realize that they raised kids, worked hard, immigrated to a new place, built businesses and houses, succeeded, failed, farmed, loved, and lost. Even if you are not a generational native of a place, learning the details of your hometown creates an understanding that the people who came before you were living their lives in much the same way that you are now and a deeper connection to that place results.
If you have ever visited a local museum, you need only to scratch the surface there before a broader understanding of the circumstances that shaped the city’s history comes into focus. Most of these little museums offer impressive collections of personal letters, photographs of families and businesses and newspaper articles that show us how the people of the past people lived their lives. Visitors can’t help but develop a sense of empathy for the people in the photos and realize that they could easily be staring at themselves in another time.
History is wherever you are. You don’t need to visit the Parthenon in Athens or the pyramids of Giza to gain perspective on the past, when your own community offers a myriad of opportunities to learn about the people and events that shaped the place that has relevance to you - a place you now call home. The history of the world is largely composed of stories from seemingly obscure places and individuals like you who are a part of the next story - a story that someday, may just be worth looking back on.
Delta County is rich in history and several top-notch museums and historical societies have preserved a wealth of artifacts, photographs and information to help you explore the past of your home town. They offer invaluable hands on experiences that can not be found in textbooks or online. Your very own story may be there some day.
Delta County Historical Society Museum - 215 Meeker St. in Delta
Pioneer Town Museum - 388 S. Grand Mesa Dr. in Cedaredge
Hotchkiss Crawford Historical Museum - 180 2nd St. in Hotchkiss
Paonia Museum (North Fork Historical Society) - 700 Shady Lane in Paonia