Our next stop in Colorado was a two-night stay in Craig starting August 17. We checked in at the KOA, which was an older RV park with new owners. They had already renovated the restrooms with new tile. The train tracks bordering the south end of the RV park gave us pause. Sounds of a train rumbling by in the middle of the night and disturbing our sleep didn’t seem like fun. As it turned out, the tracks only function as a spur line and no trains traveled the route during our stay.
Our drive from Fruita took us along the Colorado River on Interstate 70 east then we headed north on Colorado state route 13. While wide and shallow in some spots, the river moved swiftly in other places. A local from Grand Junction told us the river’s level was the lowest he’d seen since the mid-eighties. The low level is probably not a good sign for the Zonis and Calis that rely on the river for recreation, farming, and drinking water.
Verdant valleys with orchards, vineyards, shade trees and green grasses fanned out from the river. On the other side of the freeway, the terrain was more desert looking with yellow grasses, short shrubs, or just rock. The mountain cliffs continued to tower above the valley floor with a plateau here and there.
With a population of approximately 9,000, Craig serves as the Moffat County seat. A drive through town revealed a city in transition. While many of the residential streets contained well-maintained dwellings with tidy yards, other homes had slipped into disrepair. The downtown area was similarly checkerboard with businesses that looked like they had been around for years, others fairly new, and still others abandoned, like the Safeway grocery store. The City Market, however, stocks just about anything a person might want or need.
Some people consider the City of Craig as the Elk Hunting Capital of the World. Signs and posters on business property welcomed the hunters to town. We saw a group of elk trying to cross the road and plenty of pronghorn grazing in fields around town.
Other draws to the city include the Museum of Northwest Colorado and the Wyman Museum. June would be a good time to visit Craig. That’s when the city holds a Whittle the Wood Rendezvous chainsaw carving competition & festival. Several examples of past entries and winners occupy space in the downtown area.
The Museum of Northwest Colorado
Open year round, except for holidays and Sundays, with free admission, the Museum of Northwest Colorado is a great place to visit. I liked the wide aisles, display signs, and how neat and orderly the artifacts were displayed.
For instance, artifacts included a set of spurs once owned by Ann Basset, the queen of the cattle rustlers. The posters near the displays tell the stories of not only the artifact but also the owner and how the item came to the museum.
A whole room is dedicated to the western cowboy where saddles, spurs, and weapons are arranged.
Other displays included an entry from the June 2008 Whittle the Wood Rendezvous, mining equipment, stagecoach model, and information about prominent residents of the area.
The detail of this carving caught my eye. It amazed me to think it was created with a chainsaw.
Archie Smethurst was a stage driver and proprietor from 1904 – 1906.
Downstairs are posters of graduating classes dating back to the 1900s along with yearbooks that serve as a great resource for genealogists filling in the gaps of an ancestor’s past.
The Wyman Living History Museum
While the Museum of Northwest Colorado preserves the artifacts and legends of the old west, the Wyman Museum is an eclectic assortment of memorabilia collected by Lou Wyman since 1949. A military tank takes center stage in front of the museum entrance.
Outbuildings consist of an old barn, blacksmith building, schoolhouse complete with a three-stall outhouse, and a general store.
Also, on the property is Sherman Park, which contains a pond for fishing, a large population of leopard frogs, cattails, and other marsh grasses and plants. There is also a section dedicated to archery shooting.
Inside the museum, visitors find automobiles, a hearse, military memorabilia, farming implements, and equipment, old boat motors, mining display with tools and much, much, more.
The guys from American Pickers, the reality television program produced by A&E Television Networks and the History Channel, filmed an episode at the Wyman Living History Museum which aired with the title “One of Everything” on April 23, 2018. Take a look at the episode to see more of Lou Wyman’s collection.
That concludes our time in Craig, Colorado. A great place to stay for a little peace and quiet and a slower pace. Stay tuned for our next stop in Steamboat Springs.