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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The White River Museum is located at 565 Park Street, behind the red
flagstone Rio Blanco County Courthouse, one block from downtown Meeker.
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
Admission is free. Donations are greatly appreciated. Thank
you from the Rio Blanco County Historical
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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