50 ARTIFACTS FOR 50 YEARS

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In 1896, the signature building at the top of Fir Street was constructed. This brick structure housed Telluride’s hospital until 1964 when, due to a diminishing population, the hospital was closed.  In 1966 the hospital re-opened as the Telluride Historical Museum.

2016 marks the Telluride Historical Museum’s fiftieth anniversary! To celebrate this momentous occasion, we are kicking off 50 Artifacts for 50 Years. Each week one of our fabulous artifacts will be profiled on Facebook and Instagram, then compiled on our website.

Explore each artifact below:

  • Week 1: Mercury Flask
Week 20: Liberty Bell Token

Liberty Bell Mining was established in 1898, one of three major Telluride mines at the turn of the 20th century. D.W. Danielson managed the Commissary, trading tokens from the mine’s employees for goods at the mine’s commissary. In current dollars, this token may be worth $3.16. Liquidated over the years between 1921 and 1930, few artifacts from the Liberty Bell survive. Catastrophic snowslides in 1902 took sixteen lives including two rescuers caught in a second slide, and Henry Bauer, a cook who died of injuries sustained. Golden’s Colorado School of Mines has a plaque commemorating their graduates who died here in 1902.

Week 19: Fiber Sandal

This sandal is made of extremely fragile, twisted juniper bark. It measures 10.5 x 5.5 x 1.875 inches. A smaller sandal sole is plaited of yucca fiber. Also frayed, it carries extraneous fibers within mud. Its maker may have inserted animal hairs between individual strands for warmth. Found in 1959 in a cave near Naturita by Telluride student Felix Lopez, and the sandals were later donated by the Telluride School District.

Week 18: Tremain Stamp Mill

Telluride area stamp mills were permanent and active machines. Some exercised 60 stamps or more. This Tremain two stamp mill was patented in August of 1893. The apparatus and a boiler required hundreds of gallons of water per hour, 800–1000 by some estimates, and it weighed about 7,000 pounds. It had the advantage of portability. Tremain mills could pulverize from 10–15 tons of gold quartz to 40-mesh in one hour, given a power variance of 7–10 horsepower, depending on the running speed.

Week 17: Pottery Sherds

The ceramic sherds in the museum's collection date largely from the Pueblo III period, AD 1150 - 1300. Most are painted or corrugated wares. The McElmo black-on-white (AD 1075 - 1225) pieces frequently show thick framing lines above and below banded designs. The later, more numerous Mesa Verde black-on-white ceramics are from AD 1180 - 1300 and feature both thick and thin framing lines, along with straight line hachure, both grouped and continuous rim ticking, and exterior as well as interior designs. Rim pieces are especially useful in identifying the original form. Paints were organic, (plant-based) or mineral based, with some "fugitive red," or powdered hematite dusted onto the surface. The hematite rubs off when touched. A small number of Mancos pieces may date from Pueblo II. These relics of the native world were collected during the 1940s - 1950s.

Week 16: Silverjack Sandwich Basket

Silver Jack Trading, a popular restaurant on E. Colorado Avenue in the 1970s, was on the south side of the avenue and it was the only building on the block. A Butch Cassidy Steakburger was $1.75 and cheese cost no extra. The Camp Bird Delight was $2.05 and the San Miguel Shrimp was $2.50. These gold pan sandwich baskets were hard to keep, as diners appropriated them, according to owner John Micetic.

Week 15: Masonic Belt

Worn during special events and ceremonies, this belt was used by Telluride’s Masonic Lodge #56. It measures 50 by 2.875 inches without the dangling chains. Fraternal organizations offered a sense of belonging to many diverse ethnic groups. Begun as a guild for stonemasons, the Freemasonry organization traces back to 18thc Europe, the world’s oldest and largest fraternity. The Masons still meet in the hall above Ace Hardware on Colorado Avenue. Ask a Mason about earning his “third degree.”

Week 14: Doeskin Doll

Johann Daniel Kestner Jr. of Waltershausen, Thuringia, Germany began making papier mache and wood dolls as early as 1816. Kestner eventually went on to employ nearly three quarters of the inhabitants of the Waltershausen region which earned him the nickname "King Kestner". The Kestners produced wax over papier mache doll heads, and by 1860 they acquired the Ohrdruf porcelain factory and began to produce the bisque dolls known by collectors today. This Kestner leather kid body doll bears mold number 154 dep 4. Unique to Kestner are the doll heads plaster like pates. This doll has human hair.

Week 13: Sanden Electric Therapy

From the Herculex Company of New York and per 1899 advertisements, here is the famous Dr. Sanden electric belt, the great home treatment for weak men. “This belt is worn at night curing while you sleep, all results of Youthful Errors, Lack of Vigor, Manly Strength, etc. Over 7,000 gave testimony in 1899.” The copper piece measures 19.3 inches by 2.6 inches by .2 inches deep.

Week 12: Apothecary Scale

This Becker’s Sons, Rotterdam Scale has front and back sliding glass panels that prevent dust from affecting the precision of the scale. This model was first manufactured in the 1840s in the Netherlands. It can measure the weight of drug powders as fine as 1 mg up to 100+ grams. Donated by the family of the late Dennis Lisack, the piece has a foot guard, two pans, weights that measure scruples and full grams and a mahogany case. (A scruple is 1.3 grams or 20 grains.)

Week 11: Telluride Brewery

The Telluride Brewery was owned in 1897 by earlier saloon keepers Miller and Walter; a separate Telluride Bottling Works was owned by McNeil & Company. In 1903, Geo. Tallman took over the Bottling Works and C. Miller ran the Brewery. In 1907, the City Brewery was run by Wichman and Lagershausen, and the Wunderlichs launched the Telluride Beer Hall. In 1923 Clemens Wichmann leased the brewery to M. Oberto, to make carbonated beverages and near beer. The brewery, once publicized as a “dive,” (1904), was nearly destroyed in a 1910 fire, and was alleged to be a stash site of highgraded ore in 1923. The building is pictured in 1982. It was transformed into a house in the early 1990s. Still visible is a waterline once used by the Brewery. The Museum holds a full bottle of Telluride beer, donated by Diane Rousseau Tutt.

Week 10: Tomboy Tray

This unmarked tin tray shows the Tomboy Mine complex in Savage Basin near the beginning of the 20th century. The Tomboy was near the Flora Japan Mine which was located in 1887 as the Flora Mine. The owners of the Flora were Thomas Thomas and Thomas E. James of San Miguel City. Note the decorative border and floral corners. Much early tinwork was imported from Britain. The consolidated Tomboy Gold Mine Company was an investment of the Rothschilds. [Photo credit is Joseph E. Byers.] The Tomboy produced silver, gold bearing quartz and some tellurium yielding $24M over 33 years.

Week 9: Gambling Device

This wood and glass gambling device spun in a circle when a nickel was placed through a slot on the top of the wheel. The wheel spun around to land on either a "1" or a "2" which indicated how many cigars were to be dispensed to the player. Note how infrequently the "2" appears. Used in Telluride at the early smoke shop on Colorado Avenue, the device measures over 20 inches in height and 13 inches in width. The “Decatur Fairest Wheel” was an early day cigar trade stimulator.

Week 8: Columbia Harness

The town of Columbia, Colorado was platted in 1878, three years after the Remine brothers claimed Lon's placer on the San Miguel River. This strap was attached to a yoke to which working animals were harnessed. Mules, burros and pack horses conveyed freight, supplies and ore prior to the construction of the railroad. The strap is roughly 24 inches in length and 2.5 inches wide, with raised white lettering on a red ground and it is bordered in blue. The town's name was changed to Telluride to alleviate postal service confusion with a mining town in California, also called Columbia. Dave Wood's wagon train, pictured in the museum's historic photographs, shows one wagon lettered with "Columbia" and the other with "Telluride."

Week 7: LL Nunn's Last Will and Testament

Photographed here is a copy of L.L. Nunn's last will and testament. Lucien Lucius Nunn was a prominent figure in early Telluride, owning the First National Bank (now the Sunglass HQ), managing the Gold King Mine, as well as coordinating the Ames hydroelectric power experiment, which brought electricity to Telluride in the 1890s. He and his brother went on to work on other hydroelectric projects throughout the country, including Niagara Falls. In his will, Nunn bequethed $88,000 to family and friends, mostly in stocks and bonds in the Telluride and Natrona Power Companies.

Week 6: Surgical Hand Drill

Once Telluride's hospital, the Museum now houses a significant collection of medical instruments and paraphernalia, including this surgical drill. Hand-crank drills were introduced in the 19th century, and were quickly adopted around the world. Known as a "breast drill" or "egg beater drill," this surgical steel piece is equipped with a crutch-like handle, enabling the operator to apply a significant amount of force. Tedious to use and difficult to control, these drills were replaced in the 20th century with the electronic versions we know today.

Week 5: Bear Skin Gloves

These bear-skin gloves were a gift from prominent newspaper man Charles F. Painter in 1933. Complete with leather palms and thick corduroy lining, they were surely a welcome gift for Telluride winters. Known as "driving gloves," most gloves of this kind were used by horsemen or stagecoach drivers of the 19th century. While not largely fashionable, bear fur was predominately used by Native Americans and mountain men for bedding, coats, and travel blankets.

Week 4: Toy Sewing Machine

This Casige toy sewing machine was manufactured in Germany during the 1930s. It's pressed steal frame was one of many different body types, and is decorated in the art deco style popular during the 1920s and 30s. Casige sewing machines were sold around the world, and were used to teach young girls to sew. Casige was forced to convert to arms manufacturing during World War II, but afterwards continued making toys into the 1970s.

Week 3: Allosaurus Fossils

In 2011, a local student discovered an "Allosaurus fragilis" fossil along the Galloping Goose trail. This is the first dinosaur fossil found in the Telluride area. The bones are tinted blue from manganese oxide, a mineral that was deposited during fossilization. Averaging 28 feet from snout to tail, Allosaurus was slightly smaller than its younger cousin Tyrannosaurus Rex, and was by far the most common large predator of the Jurassic Period. See the bones firsthand in our "Forces of Nature: Telluride's Prehistoric Journey," on display through March of 2016.

Week 2: Colorado Mining Directory

This rare book catalogs mining claims by county across Colorado. According to this text, San Miguel County boasted 1,000 citizens in 1883, and included 365 named mining claims and many cross references to others in the area. Also listed are the claim's owners, mineral content, paysteak and facilities, if any.

Week 1: Mercury Flask

This small round flask, measuring 4" in diameter, once contained Mercury for use in the Tomboy Mine. Mercury, though highly poisonous, was a popular chemical used to extract gold and other valuable minerals from raw ore. Through a process called "amalgamation," mercury bonded to metals like gold, picking up even trace amounts and allowing waste materials to be washed away.