Library Corner: Resources for Grand County history lessons

Tallie Gray
Director of Library Resources
Cozens Ranch is shown in this photo dated 1903. The picture features some of the original outbuildings as well as the main home.
Grand County Historical Association

“History is a symphony of echoes heard and unheard. It is a poem with events as verses.” — Charles Angoff

Grand County residents are fortunate to have many resources to learn from the area’s past in order to help plan for the future.

Both Grand County Library District (GCLD) and Grand County Historical Association (GCHA) can be utilized to answer questions as to what made this pioneering county, founded in 1874, a magnet for people around the world, then and now.

Home to Utes and Arapahos, Doc Susie, David Moffat, Rocky Mountain National Park, Spirit Lake, the Colorado River, “Sportsman’s Paradise,” Fossil Ridge, Mary Jane, and a plethora of spectacular settings, Grand County residents can honor our heritage by taking time to learn about our local history.

As Marcus Garvey wrote, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”

And Grand County has long and deep roots to explore and remember.

Samantha Missey, the programming and education manager for GCHA, wrote to me about the future of preserving the WWII German POW camp in Fraser, stating “… all we as an organization can really do is attempt to educate and bring awareness to the community about the history of the area. Once we have done what we can to raise awareness and provide the history and importance of an area, it becomes the responsibility of the property owners to decide how to proceed.”

For community members who want to heed Missey’s words and are curious about the territory before 1874 and the development of Grand County since then, here are some resources to discover:

• GCLD’s Access Grand library pass program has free tickets to Grand County Historical Association Museums, including Cozens Ranch Museum in Fraser, Heritage Park Museum in Kremmling, and Pioneer Village Museum in Hot Sulphur Springs. Visit these well-preserved historical buildings to learn about the history of Native Americans, pioneers, homesteaders, the ski industry, and more.

• Each GCLD library has a solid collection of books and journals on history of Grand County, including “Then & Now: A Quick History” by local Penny Rafferty Hamilton; “In Their Own Spirit: Voices of Courage from a Rocky Mountain Village” first-person oral history interviews with many accompanying photos from the late 1800s to mid-1950s by Avis and Ryan Gray, and “Doc Susie” by Virginia Cornell.

• Interested in learning about the importance of the Colorado River and other rivers? Reserve tickets to the Headwaters River Journey, an interactive water and wildlife experience in Winter Park, using Access Grand. Then search the GCLD catalog for titles of interest.

• Did you enjoy the Middle Park Fair last week? Research and learn more about the fair and rodeo pioneers, the history of ranching, water rights controversies (yes, they have been going on for over 100 years, but have yet to diminish), the Middle Park Times declaring in 1914 that “Grand County is the best dairy section in the West,” and any topic you choose to investigate by using Plains to Peaks Historic Newspapers Collection and Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection (Experience Colorado as It Happened).

• Partake in recording Grand County visual history by checking out a GCLD Sketchbook Art Project Kit from any of our libraries. Art supplies are included so that you can get creative and preserve a memory to share with future generations.

Shanna Ganne, Executive Director of GCHA offers this wisdom: “The Fraser Valley Parkway and other development projects around the county imperil the history that happened long ago. Cultural surveys such as this one help us identify – for the present and future generations — what is or what could be at risk. Based on the findings, we then must decide as a community what we value.”

Visit your local library, local museums, and to learn more about Grand County’s rich history.

Visit Cozens Ranch Museum in Fraser or other Grand County museums, using Access Grand library passes on

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