By Shari Pierce
Special to The PREVIEW
The good ol’ days.
Things were simpler then.
Or, were they? You be the judge.
You might enjoy a walk around the San Juan Historical Society Museum yard. Several farm implements from days past are resting after years of toil. You’ll see a mower, rake, hay tedder, potato digger and thresher among the displays. And these items are those that were used to help the farmer to be more efficient. Imagine life before these inventions.
The hay press is a favorite of these displays. The hay press moved the farmer from stacks of hay to bales of hay.
Hay presses were manufactured from the mid 1800s into the early 1900s. Hay was fed with manpower into the press, which was then powered by horses (in later years, motors) to compact the hay into bales. Manpower was then required to tie the bales and stack them. And, this was an improvement as it made transportation, storage and sale of hay easier.
After you’ve marveled at the outside exhibits, you’ll find a continuation of the farming and ranching exhibit inside featuring saddles, cream separator, seed separator and hand implements followed by the forge and branding irons.
Are you tired yet? This is just a sampling of the artifacts from “the good ol’ days” housed inside the museum that give the visitor a feel for the day-to-day hard work it took to live here. From the bank to the general store, household items and more, visitors are treated to a delightful glimpse of the pieces of our past.
A wonderful community quilt that was donated to the museum a few years back is Pine Trees of Pagosa Springs. This is a friendship quilt, which is traditionally a simple, pieced block with a signature block incorporated into it or under it. The signatures may be written in ink, or embroidered.
This quilt is done in a pine-tree block. At the base of each tree is a signature block with the names embroidered on it. There are 82 names of early families to settle in this area and include Fern Hott, Charles Day, E.M. Taylor, Phil Burns, Lenna Catchpole, Ida Born and more.
Hazel Macht made the pine tree block friendship quilt in 1935 and she gave it the name “Pine Trees of Pagosa Springs.”
Hazella Haptenstall, a granddaughter of early Pagosa Springs pioneers Joe and Hazel Macht, donated this quilt to the museum’s permanent collection.
The Pine Trees quilt is one of this summer’s special quilt exhibit — “Stitches in Time.” This show features quilts from Pagosa Springs resident Judy Jordan, along with quilts from the Macht family and the museum’s own collection. This is a delightful collection with a lot of variety that you won’t want to miss.
After you’ve toured the museum, be sure to spend some time browsing the gift shop. New merchandise, including regional history books, has arrived in the past two weeks. This supplements the locally handcrafted items and the museum’s souvenir playing cards giving an excellent selection of merchandise for yourself or gifts.
Souvenir playing cards were created by the Society as a fund-raiser for the museum. The deck is a regular playing deck with photos of early Pagosa Springs that were sponsored by local individuals and businesses. The decks are available for $10 each.
The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and is located at the corner of U.S. 160 and Pagosa Street on the eastern end of town. Admission is free although donations are greatly appreciated and are used to offset the operating expenses of the museum. The Society does not receive funding from the town or county and must raise all monies necessary to continue operation of this facility.
You are invited to stop in to the museum and enjoy getting to know more about our community’s history.