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Rio Blanco County Historical Society & White River Museum

White River Museum
A Collection of the Pioneer West!

Rio Blanco County Historical Society "Between Fences" photography contest accepting entries now through December 20, 2010. The Smithsonian traveling exhibit "Between Fences" is here from December 11, 2010 until February 26, 2011.  This is one of only 6 in the state where the traveling exhibit will be displayed.  Winners of the photography contest will be announced after the new year and will be on display at Fawn Creek Gallery, 6th & Main St. in Meeker.  Mark your calendar to attend the official opening of the exhibit on December 11th.

E-Mail: wrmuseum@nctelecom.net

The Last Major Indian Uprising and the Meeker Massacre from the RBC Historical Society

One hundred years ago Meeker, Colorado was a typical western town of frame buildings and dirt roads with nary a tree in sight.  Now it is a beautiful and thriving community, rich in history.

The History of Meeker can be seen first hand by visiting the White River Museum!  You won't be able to miss the rough hewn log buildings which store the treasures of the White River Valley.  Stop in when you're in Meeker and take a look at the picture by the door.  It was taken 4 years after the military left in 1883.  There's another large picture that's on the wall to the right as you go into the last room.  It was taken from the steps of the Garrison and you can see where the people put false fronts on the old adobe enlisted men's barracks.  It's fascinating!

The original structure was built in 1880 as quarters for U.S. Army officers.  The army pulled out in 1883 and sold to the town, the officers' quarters for $100 each and the adobe enlisted men's barracks (on the block where the bank is) for $50 each.  The museum was a private residence until 1945.  The Garrison building, which recently underwent major renovation, was a residence until 1995, and the corner building continues to be a private home.

Photos of early settlers and structures garnish the walls.  A small room is devoted to pictures and information about the town, Nathan C. Meeker and his family.  The pictures you see below are of Nathan C. Meeker and his daughter, Josephine Meeker, who was captured by the Utes during the Meeker Massacre.

Nathan C. MeekerJosephine Meeker

Mrs. Arvilla Meeker, Flora Ellen Price and her two young children were also captured.  Though Flora Ellen Price was the mother of two children, she was only 16 years old and as innocent as they were.  At the White River Agency, Johnnie and May Price were pets of all the Utes, who tried to buy them at high prices!  Pictures below are of Mrs. Meeker, Mrs. Price and her two children.

           

You'll find dresses, wedding gowns, hats and jewelry, from the late 1800's through the 40's, and on.  If you don't find the large Victorian wreath made of human hair, make sure and ask someone.  It truly is exquisite.  There are uniforms from every branch of the service, worn by Meeker men in wars going back to WWI.

Concord StagecoachThrough personal belongings you'll meet people who've added color to the Meeker landscape.  You can see Rory White's bear hide coat.  Rory was the stagecoach driver between Rifle and Meeker at the turn of the century.  Only in high summer was he seen without his bear hide coat!  You can read articles about the "real" facts behind the Meeker Massacre, and on the spot coverage of the Meeker bank robbery in 1896.

Chief ColorowYou won't want to miss seeing Chief Colorow's peace pipe, or the pair of moccasins made by a Ute woman for a pioneer boy.  You can see the original hand printing press brought to Meeker in 1885 from Leadville by wagon to print The Meeker Herald weekly newspaper - which, by the way, is still in circulation under the name of The Herald Times.

Antique pianoNo matter what strikes your interest as you walk through the museum, let your imagination take hold.  These pieces of furniture, pictures, and personal treasures are truly the pioneer west!  Below is the plow that was used by Nathan Meeker to dig up the Ute Indians' pony racetrack.  This act led to the Meeker Massacre and Mr. Meeker's death in 1879.

Nathan Meeker's Plow

 

The White River Museum is located at 565 Park Street, behind the red flagstone Rio Blanco County Courthouse, one block from downtown Meeker.

The museum is open daily year around.  Our hours are 9AM-5PM Mid-April through end of November, 10AM-4PM through the winter.

Please call the White River Museum at 970-878-9982 with any questions. You can also e-mail: wrmuseum@nctelecom.net

Admission is free.  Donations are greatly appreciated.  Thank you from the Rio Blanco County Historical Society.

Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt

 

Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt loved the Northwest Colorado area and spent time in Meeker while hunting mountain lions and other big game.  He stayed at the historic Meeker Hotel while here.  The museum has several pictures of President Roosevelt, some of which include his handwritten comments.

 

 

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