Pioneer Museum Florence Colorado

Florence History

Florence, Colorado is a wonderful western sleepy town, as you stroll down Main Street today, you see history all around you with the Victorian architecture, the western-style brick buildings that line both sides of Main Street. Florence is truly a gem and a little town that time forgot. The friendly small-town vibe is engrained in most residents with hat tips for the ladies and welcoming smiles all around. There are wonderful restaurants and coffee shops sprinkled between tons of antique shops and the local art scene. It is just a fun place to visit when you just wanna slow down and stroll a bit.

The top image is of the school cafeteria and the middle and bottom are of the old High School

Both the Grims went to Florence High School back in the day, so it is like coming home, whenever we visit. We often joke about how the town has grown from the one-stoplight town of our youth to a few more now some 35+ years later. It provides us with nostalgic memories of our past.

Florence has an interesting 150-year history. In 1830, a French trader established the first trading post in Adobe creek just south of the present town of Florence. In 1838, there was a battle fought between the Sioux and Arapaho Indians with the locals hiding in the fort. The early settlers asked for assistance from the local Utes and with their assistance the settlers won. The first settlement on Adobe Creek was sometime between 1840 – 1846.

The first settlement of what is now Florence consisted of a few buildings in 1870. James McCandless developed his holdings and struck oil he plotted a 160-acre farm into a townsite. He asked other locals such as Edwin Lobach, to join him and donate land to make a real town. When the town was incorporated in 1887 it was named after McCandless’s young daughter, Florence.

First Oil Field West of the Mississippi

The Florence oil fields are the second oldest in the United States and home to the first oil well west of the Mississippi River. Oil was discovered back in 1862, and this oil well is still pumping today.

Pioneer Museum

What It Does For the Community

We spoke at length with Mrs. Gale MacKinnon about what the museum has to offer for the community. The museum volunteer staff are curating newspaper articles and other information to assist with genealogy, past events, and local history. The area the Florence museum is preserving is Eastern Fremont County and up to Wetmore with the deciding line being MacKenzie Avenue. So Penrose, Florence, Brewster, Rockvale, Coal Creek, Wetmore, and the Fon Hallow areas to name a few.

In fact, we visited to gather old newspaper articles for an upcoming post we are working on. Mrs. MacKinnon was super, awesome in assisting us in this endeavor. She had gathered the folder the staff had compiled and had it ready for us ahead of our visit. The personal touch was absolutely the best part of our visit there.

For the familial genealogy part, Mrs. MacKinnon had also pulled Grimming Mama’s family history folders for review. It was such an incredible experience to go through all they had compiled. Grimming Mama was asked to help organize some of the folders since the staff wasn’t familiar with the family tree for her family. To see elders of the family in their own yesteryear photos was incredibly moving.

The museum is asking for more historical information about minority residents with ties to the area. The museum would love to have more information on the different cultural families of the area, such as the Hispanic, Italian, and Native American families. They really want to have any and all folks with ties to the area represented equally. This was a sincerely heartfelt plea, so I am passing this along to any of the folks from the area to please consider donating any history from your own families so that future generations can have a personal experience when they look into their own history.

The museum is cared for with heart and love by the volunteers there and since they operate mostly off of donations they don’t currently offer any digitized archives. They are currently rotating through the inventory they put out on display so this will make each visit unique. It is a great place to spend an hour, but if you are into history that could easily turn into weeks. We will be going back that is for sure, as there are so many new stories we found there that are just waiting to be shared with our Grim Family. We have linked the Museum’s website below in case any of you would like to stop in.

https://www.florencepioneermuseum.org/

Local Mining History

The areas they have set up for mining were very informative with numerous photos and articles about local mining history. There is even a huge map that shows a great deal of the mines in Fremont County. They have some mining memorabilia from the 1800s through to modern times. They even have some fun stories about gold mining and the whole gold rush in this part of the Rockies.

Newspapers

Love the advertisement for a local newspaper company. All the old typewriters from very old to more modern. Just imagine all the old stories told with these. How awesome for storytellers like us.

Some Of The Old Businesses In Town

History of old businesses in Florence through the years from local car dealerships, volunteer fire department memorabilia, and even the local tailor. All the displays take the visitors back to another time.

Old Antiques

From an old safe, to machinery or even a pot belly stove the antiques are sometimes very ornate and interesting to try to understand and admire. There was even a display of old rifles and a set up of a vintage wedding ceremony the love for the local history shines through loud and clear.

Oddities

Like any small-town museum, you are bound to run across a few oddities. We found a taxidermied two-legged horse. This little colt was born without the front legs and likely didn’t live very long after. It is sad, yes, but also part of the dark side of animal husbandry.

Personally, some of the items I love, love, love are the little did you know facts scattered throughout. For example, caterpillars stopped trains from running? Wait, What! How is this possible? Or the explanation of the term link as a unit of measure? Things like this add to the small-town life. Not sure I will ever be able to use this information in a trivia contest but who knows maybe one day I will work them into a conversation.

Pioneer Museum Bring History Alive

Even though we love to visit old places like the, Pioneer Museum, we hope all the Grim Family enjoyed coming along with us too. One of the things Mrs. MacKinnon said really resonated in my soul. “History is about the people, people made history possible.”

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