New museum magazine to examine how history shaped western Colorado

The Museum of Western Colorado this week launched a striking new magazine: Entrada: Heritage of the Upper Colorado River Basin.

It’s not only a nice-looking publication, with full-color artwork and historic photos, Entrada picks up where other museum publications left off by offering well-written stories about the particular history of the region with insight into how that history has shaped us today.

“Entrada is a way for us to explore many topics that relate to our museum’s mission in-depth and in a way that provides a permanent written account of the people, places and activities that make western Colorado such a wonderful place to live,” said Ronna Lee Sharpe, editor for the magazine and coordinator of membership and special events for the museum.

“We are reaching out to the community to involve writers and resources so their voices can enrich the story,” she said.

Each issue of the magazine will have a theme, said Peter Booth, executive director of the museum. This issue’s theme is Hispanic heritage on the Western Slope.

Stories include a first-person narrative by the museum’s Curator of History David Bailey about the investigation of a mysterious Kannah Creek relic that appeared to be a fragment of a 17th century cross from the Dominguez and Escalante Expedition.

Accompanying that story is a piece about the role of myth in Spanish exploration of the American West and a timeline of Hispanic history in Colorado.

Bringing the theme to more contemporary times, Bob Silbernagel of The Daily Sentinel wrote about the Chicano Movement in Grand Junction, with an extended interview of Phil Lujan, early president of La Voz de la Raza — the Voice of the People.

“In the 1950s and 1960s, bars on Main Street in Grand Junction and dance halls out in the country posted signs that read, ‘No Mexicans or Dogs Allowed,’ Phil Lujan recalled.”

Silbernagel also has a story about the history of the Latin-Anglo Alliance, founded in 1956, with interviews of members Alfred LeFebre and Connie Martinez. From the beginning, the top goal of the alliance has been to grant scholarships to young Hispanic people. “So many students have become professional people,” Martinez says in the story. “I’m so glad so many of our young people have made the choice to go to school and better their lives.”

Some of the Hispanic history featured in the magazine can be seen and hiked by traversing the North Branch of the Old Spanish Trail on Orchard Mesa. Vicki Felmlee, owner of TCS Marketing Group Inc. and an advocate for establishment of historic status for the trail, wrote about the history of the trail, how it came to be part of the National Historic Trail system, and how it can be enjoyed today.

“Less than 10 minutes from downtown Grand Junction, two coyotes are loping across a bluff, heading for the Gunnison River,” Felmlee writes. “Only a few minutes away, centuries-old petroglyphs grace a cliff-side wall ... A few miles to the west lies the wide expanse of a campsite used in the 1850s by a military expedition of 300 men and a thousand horses and mules.”

An excerpt from the now-defunct Journal of the Western Slope — it was formerly produced in concert with then-Mesa State College and the museum — is included as well. Liz Herrera wrote in 1991 about the history of Hispanic people in Grand Junction by highlighting their lives in the Colonia area of south downtown.

Some of this area north of the Colorado River will be preserved as Las Colonias Park, writes Traci Wieland, recreation superintendent for the city of Grand Junction. “The park’s master plan includes numerous riverfront amenities such as an outdoor amphitheatre, native arboretum, restrooms, shelters, 18-hole disc golf course, new trails and trail connections to the existing Riverfront Trail, wetlands area, boat launch and abundant recreation opportunities.”

Bridging history and the present is an important goal of the magazine, Booth said. “Entrada will take the stories found in the museum out to the community, helping the community learn more about itself and discover more about its past. In time, we want the community to embrace this as a way they can interact with the museum outside the museum’s walls.”

In the opening welcome to the magazine, Booth explains the significance of the name Entrada. “First, Entrada describes the beautiful salmon-colored layer of sandstone that is located throughout the Basin. ... Second, Entrada is a Spanish word referring to ‘expedition’ or ‘journey.’ ... And third, Entrada means ‘entrance’ or ‘enter.’ We hope that our publication will provide an inviting entry point for you to explore the heritage of this fascinating home of ours.”

Entrada’s publication was made possible by a grant from Chevron. An editorial board, of which I’m a member, helped with the content, editing and proofreading. Other members of that board are Kristen Ashbeck, Booth, Ken Johnson, Steven Schulte, Stephen Scroggins, Sharpe, Silbernagel and Steve Werman. The magazine was designed by Nita Kroninger.

Copies of Entrada are available for $5 at all museum gift shops and soon will be at area retailers. Museum members, at a level of $100 annually or higher, will receive the magazine free of charge as part of their membership. Those copies should be going out mid-month, Sharpe said. The next edition is expected in the fall.

Do you have news about local authors, bookstores, book clubs or writing groups? Email Laurena Mayne Davis at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Davis is the director of marketing and product development for The Daily Sentinel.


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