Archive for the 'Online resources' Category

From the Archive: Vertical Files Online!

by Lesley Drayton, Curator, Local History Archive

Did you know that one of the treasure troves in the Fort Collins Local History Archive is the collection of over 3,800 vertical files available to folks like you who are curious about local history?  These many file folders have been assembled over a long period of time and are continually expanded by Archive staff and volunteers. They cover a wide range of topics and are some of the most requested items by researchers interested in local history.

Check out our “Miles O’ Files”

The Subject Files are handy packets of information containing newspaper clippings, student papers, government reports, and more. They are a great place to start researching local topics like the sugar beet industry or neighborhood schools.

The Biographical Files contain clippings and reports on individuals and families from Fort Collins history. Some files include family histories created by researchers and donated to the Archive.

The Ephemera Files are organized by subject and surnames and include fragile primary source materials like calling cards, original advertising, pamphlets, receipts, and building abstracts.

In the past, the contents of these files were only available for perusal by visiting the Local History Archive in person, but Archive volunteers have embarked on a scanning project to put the key contents of some of the most popular vertical files online. Please note that these online resources are for educational use only and may not be duplicated or re-published.

Check out our first foray into virtual vertical files with the “Auntie” Elizabeth Stone Collection.

More files are being scanned for research purposes, including information on the Fort Collins Trolley, Annie the Railroad Dog, and the Virginia Dale Stage Station. Stay tuned for more online resources to make your journey into Fort Collins history easier than ever!

And be sure to visit the Fort Collins History Connection to explore the research collections and exhibits already online.


Today is “Ask a Curator” Day!

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

I work with a bunch of museum curators, and let me tell you, they know a LOT of interesting things. Multiply that by all the museums in the world, and you’ve got a major collection of smarty pants.

Today marks the launch of a cool online project called “Ask a Curator Day.” The project is using Twitter to give people a chance to ask curators all over the world those burning questions that only a museum geek can answer! Over 100 museums in the U.S. alone are participating, plus museums from all over Europe, Canada, South and Central America, Africa, and Australia. If you can’t get your question answered by one of these folks, well, I just don’t know what to say.

You can find out how to participate by visiting the “Ask a Curator” website. There you’ll find directions for using Twitter to ask your question, and see a list of all the museums that are part of the project. If you find out anything interesting, let us know!

Note: This from Wired.UK — “The #askacurator Twitter hash-tag has proven to be very popular, currently ranking as the sixth most popular trending topic in the UK, and the fourth worldwide. However, popularity on Twitter is as much a blessing as a curse, with the tag’s real-time results overrun with spam and joke messages. You’ll want to follow the tweets of a specific venue to receive any worthwhile answers.”

Trails Thursday: Museo de las Tres Colonias

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

Sugar beet workers, circa 1926. Photo from the Fort Collins Local History Archive

It’s almost sugar beet harvesting time, and if you’re not a long-time resident of Fort Collins (and I mean really long!) or a local history buff, you may have no idea how big a beet can be in the life of a town. Curious? Explore the Museo de las Tres Colonias, one of the stops on the Trails of Northern Colorado cultural heritage driving tour.

The sugar beet is at the heart of a story that helped bring two major ethno-cultural groups to Fort Collins: Germans from Russia (also sometimes known as the Volga Germans), and Hispanics. Both groups were brought here in the early decades of the 20th century to work in the sugar beet fields and processing plants owned by the Great Western Sugar Company, and both groups — first the Germans from Russia and then the Hispanics — lived in the small neighborhoods near the Great Western Plant that we know today as Andersonville, Alta Vista, and Buckingham: the tres colonias.

The Hispanic heritage and stories of these neighborhoods, and the part they played in the growth of Fort Collins, is preserved at the Museo de las Tres Colonias. The Museo is open on the 3rd Saturday of each month, from 12:30 to 3:00, and is located at 425 10th St.

Trails Thursday: Meet the Plaster King

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

Last month, the Museum launched our “Trails of Northern Colorado” website. The Trails website is a cultural and natural history driving tour of northern Colorado which links many of our favorite places and stories into a fun adventure, perfect for summer exploration. Many of the locations take you to our various and wonderful natural areas and open spaces, while others are more urban. Over the next couple of months, we’re going to highlight some of the stops on the tour; we hope you’ll go out and experience the rest!

Devil's Backbone Open Space (photo by Scott Bacon)

Devil’s Backbone Open Space is the southern-most stop on Tour 1 of the Trails of Northern Colorado, which covers the foothills region. Located a few miles west of Loveland, the dominant natural feature of this open space is a hogback ridge of hard Dakota sandstone. Just to the south is the Big Thompson River, and nestled in a valley to the west are stone quarries, beautiful agricultural land, and some really interesting historical stories. One of those stories involves Alfred Wild, also known as “Colorado’s Pioneer Hop Grower and Plaster King.”

Alfred Wild (photo courtesy of the Fort Collins Local History Archive)

In the late 1880s while digging an irrigation ditch on his land in this valley, Wild discovered a thick vein of high-quality gypsum. Being an entrepreneurial sort of fellow, he experimented with some small-scale methods of turning the gypsum into plaster. One thing led to another, including a partnership with the U.S. Gypsum Corporation, and Wild’s Buckhorn Mill operated until 1965.

Alfred Wild also established a successful orchard, grew hops which he sold to the country’s western breweries, and operated a brick kiln. And there’s even more to his story … so go explore, and add Devil’s Backbone Open Space to your list of “yep, I’ve done that!” as you travel the Trails of Northern Colorado.

“Trails of Northern Colorado” website launches

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

Now that summer is here, it’s time to get serious about getting out and seeing some sights. If you live in northern Colorado, or are planning on visiting us, we’re excited to announce a new Google Maps-based driving tour that will take you to some of the truly outstanding places in our area.

The Trails of Northern Colorado” is a website created by the Museum as part of a U.S. Park Service Preserve America grant. Literally over 12,000 years in the making, the website offers three different driving tours of the distinctive regions of northern Colorado — the foothills, the river, and the plains. Each tour consists of multiple stops, each with its own unique cultural and natural history story to tell. Taken together, the tour reveals many stories and hidden gems that even long-time residents may not be aware of.

I don’t want to give too much more away, other than to say “Go explore!” We really hope you’ll enjoy this great new resource.

You can read more about the project on the Museum’s website.

The Fort Collins History Connection is the ALA Digital Library of the Week!

by Lesley Drayton, Curator, Fort Collins Local History Archive

The Fort Collins History Connection website, an online collaboration between the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center and the Poudre River Public Library District, has been selected by the American Libraries Association as the Digital Library of the Week!

Check it out:

Feel free to leave a comment on their site about our site!

Oh, and if you haven’t been on the History Connection site yet, why not check it out today? A plethora of online, searchable resources about Fort Collins awaits you, including resources from the library, museum artifacts, and materials from the Local History Archive. Dig into history with photos, maps, oral histories, local anecdotes, and more!

Even more to explore! The Museum’s on Facebook

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

The Museum got started on Facebook about a month ago, and we’re really enjoying having another new way to share what’s going on — both with our local community, and with people from all over. Museums can project an intimidating image — big stone buildings, hushed galleries, sometimes a bit of that “ivory tower” feeling — but that’s definitely not what we’re all about at the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center. It’s great to have ways to reach outside of our stone building — this blog, our new Facebook page, and Slinky’s Twitter — and get a conversation going with you. As this new year really gets rolling we’re going to have a lot of updates about the new museum too, and we’ll be using the blog, Facebook, and our website to keep you informed. So, if you’ll forgive the shameless plug, go “fan” us on Facebook! And keep the conversation going. We love to hear from you.

100 Best Curator and Museum Blogs

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation


The Online Universities Blog posted their list of the 100 Best Curator and Museum Blogs, and guess who made the list? That’s right, yours truly: More to Explore: The Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center Blog (too bad there wasn’t a category for  longest blog name – we would’ve cleaned up)!

We’re thrilled to be listed amongst many of the blogs that we’re already fans of, and hope that the list will help you discover some new museum blogs to read. The list is divided into blog categories (you can find us at #74 under “Science”) so it’s easy to navigate.

Have fun exploring some of the other museum blogs, but remember to keep reading ours (after all, we did make the list of 100 Best Curator and Museum Blogs).

*image courtesy of International Art Therapy

Welcome to the Futility Closet

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

One of the many entertaining aspects of my job as editor of this blog is to follow other museum, science, and history-related blogs out there in the blogosphere. I found one today that’s just too good to keep to myself: it’s a blog called “Futility Closet,” and describes itself as “An idler’s miscellany of compendious amusements.” The author covers a wonderfully diverse range of topics, including history, science and math, language, literature, and technology. If you’re an intellectually curious person with a quirky sense of humor (and I think you are; you’re reading our blog, aren’t you?), this blog is for you.

Here’s a sample: “Hey!“, which attempts to answer the question, “If Martians are observing us, how can we show them we’re intelligent?” Enjoy.

More music

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

More music for your Wednesday — Education Coordinator Toby Swaford tipped us off to this amazing example of collective art created on the web: a project called “In B Flat.” It just held me mesmerized for the last 20 minutes. I won’t say anything more — just check it out for yourself!


March 2023

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