Ever since they realized that the history of their community was being lost, the citizens of Golden, Colorado have been preserving their story for more than 75 years. Part of preserving the town’s legacy is protecting and preserving the possessions of its early and current citizens. On display at the Golden History Center is a sample of some 15,000 artifacts that the city has in its collection. As the welcome placard says, “[e]very one tells a story, if you take the time to listen.”
Golden is a dynamic town, but you wonder what Golden would be like today if not for its rich, diverse, and colorful past. The displayed artifacts help us to ponder that question. The sheepherder’s box tells the story of Golden’s ranching past, the Rosebud Pottery collection–some pieces are now rare and highly collectible–tells the story of Golden’s manufacturing industries, and the musical instrument display tells the story of Golden’s rich and varied musical traditions.
Some of the smallest items on display at the museum tell some of the most interesting and important tales about the history of this fantastic town. Stories that tell of the ingenuity and the resiliency of Golden residents.
In 1916, four years prior to Prohibition taking effect, Colorado banned the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages (obviously, the culture of the state was a bit different then). The Adolph Coors Brewing and Manufacturing Company, determined to stay in business, began manufacturing malted milk. Makes sense, as malted barley is one of the four main ingredients in beer. As a result of its flexibility, Coors became the supplier of malted milk to the Mars Candy Company. That is a big story contained inside the small, pristine malted milk can on display at the museum.
In 1949, Bill and Dorothy Harmsen started the Jolly Rancher ice cream shop. As a result of slow ice cream sales during the winter, they began making candies. They made several types of candy, but the most popular of their delicacies was a type of hard candy that today is one of the most popular hard candies in America. Today Jolly Rancher is a division of Hershey Foods. Another big story told in the guise of several small candy boxes displayed along side some of the tools used to make the popular candies.
In the farthest corner of the museum near the musical instrument display is a video presentation of the various musical styles found in Golden. You can select from several different high-definition, three-to-eight minute video presentations. One video tells the story of Golden native Adam Kinghorn’s evolution from rock musician to bluegrass performer who learned to appreciate music as a result of his mother’s musical talents and performances. Another video is about Golden’s First Methodist Church, the oldest, continually worshiping Protestant congregation in Colorado, and the restoration of their majestic pipe organ. Hear the Golden Overture composed by David Ackerman and performed by The Jefferson Symphony Orchestra in honor of Golden’s 150th anniversary. Also listen to the Golden City Brewery jam, an informal bluegrass session at the Golden City Brewery.
If you take in the 48 minute video Capturing The Golden Past, you will need at least two hours for your visit. Hear Golden residents tell their recollections of Golden lifestyle from 1900 to 1950.
I’ve only revealed part of what you will see at this fun and educational museum. I’ve always enjoyed visiting museums that center on local history. Golden is a great town, and there are reasons for it. It didn’t come to be by itself. Golden residents have a story to tell and this museum conveys that story.