Walking tour will visit historic sites

MEEKER I There will be lots of herding going on this week with the Meeker Classic Sheepdog Championship Trials at Ute Park.
There may also be lots of walking going on.
That is if visitors would like to stretch their legs and go on a walking tour of historic sites that were part of the original town.
For the past year, the Rio Blanco County Historical Society has been working on a project to organize a walking tour of historical sites. A brochure, which includes a map of the historic sites, will be available for $3 at the historical society’s vendor booth at the sheepdog trials.
“We have 21 sites at this point, and we’ll add two or three a year,” said Dave Steinman, retired doctor and member of the historical society. “So it’s a beginning, and we’re excited about it.”
The tour involves a “moderate amount of walking,” Steinman said.
“It starts at the museum,” Steinman said of the tour, which has stops every block or two.
“There are several sites that are on the national registry of historic places,” Steinman said, noting St. James Episcopal Church, Meeker Hotel and the White River Museum. “So those are included and what is known as the brick block on Main Street, across from the courthouse. That’s the one that has the Hugus Building, the hotel and the Meeker Cafe.”
Also included on the tour are the courthouse and the old grade school, located next door.
“The courthouse and the grade school were both built by Work Progress Administration grants in the late ’30s,” Steinman said. “Mr. (Fred) Carstens, who was the director of county welfare, provided the rock for both of the buildings, and the hospital later on, from his quarry upriver.”
As far as criteria used for selecting sites for the walking tour, Steinman said, “One was that the architecture would be of interest and the sites needed to be here for 50 years.”
Steinman thanked historical society members for their volunteer work on the project, as well as technology and services donated by Joy Surveying of Meeker.
“We’ve had an archiving group that did the research on each of the sites, then we had an editorial group that brought it together (for the brochure), so it has been a volunteer effort from historical society members,” Steinman said.
The effort will be ongoing, as the historical society has plans to expand the walking tour.
“We started out with these 21 sites, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t more that we hope to add,” Steinman said.
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In December, the White River Museum will host a Smithsonian traveling exhibit called Between Fences. The exhibit is part of the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street series. The exhibit will be here through February 2011.