Museum of the Mountain West: 970-240-3400
Located two miles east of Montrose at the intersection of Highway 50 and East Miami Road, it’s a must see stop for all those interested in the early days of settlement here in Western Colorado. The mission of the Museum is to preserve the historic western memorabilia, a collection of more than 500,000 artifacts from the old west, and buildings for the enjoyment and education of visitors for generations to come. One of the significant buildings at the Museum is the Diehl Carriage Works (1895) which was a Studebaker Wagon Dealership. It was in the Diehl building that Jack Dempsey, the Manassa Mauler, trained whilst in Montrose. Dempsey fought and beat Fred Woods on August 1, 1918 in Montrose.
Montrose County Historical Society Museum: 970-249-2085
Located in the historic downtown Montrose at 21 North Rio Grande Avenue, the building is a classic example of the “mission revival” style which was used in many passenger depots in the American West. The focus at the museum is the early pioneer life here in Montrose. Included in the Museum are two log cabins, vintage farm machinery, and various displays on the settling of the Uncompahgre Valley.
Ute Indian Museum: 970-249-3098
The Ute Indian Museum provides a rare opportunity to learn the culture and the history of one tribe. Located on Highway 550 and Chipeta Drive in Montrose, the museum sits on the site of the original 8.6 acre homestead that once belonged to Chief Ouray and his wife Chipeta. In the 1920’s the Uncompahgre Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution were able to purchase the farm land and bring the remains of Chipeta and bury her on the old homestead. The local DAR also erected a monument to Chief Ouray on the same site. Local interest in the site prompted the creation of a small museum that was presented to the Colorado Historical Society in 1945. The present museum was opened in 1956. Also housed on site is the Montrose Visitor Information Center. Open all year, this museum gives visitors a glimpse into the late 19th Century struggles of the Ute Indian Tribe in Western Colorado.
Cimarron Railroad Exhibit: 970-249-4074 or 970-641-2337
Taking Highway 50 east of Montrose to Cimarron visitors has the unique opportunity to see the restored Locomotive 278 (Baldwin Locomotive Works, Philadelphia, 1882) of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. The locomotive with its coal tender, boxcar and caboose sit on the last section of trestle along the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The locomotive and cars are restored to the condition they would have been in 1940, and retired from service in 1952 from the railroad. The Trestle constructed in 1895 replaced the original wooden trestle constructed in 1882. The route from Gunnison to Montrose was the main connection to the east until the highway improvements of the mid 20th Century.
Please note that the locomotive and cars have been removed from the exhibit for a complete restoration. The Park Service has indicated that the Locomotive and Tender will be on display at the secure yard in Cimarron by mid June or early July. Once the cars have been restored the exhibit will be updated and moved to the trestle.
The rail line came down the Gunnison River Canyon and crossed the river to creep up the Cimarron River Canyon. The survey of 1881 was sent by the railroad builder William Jackson Palmer from Sapinero to Cimarron to scout the route. Over the year with workers numbering a thousand the line was completed. The first train reached Cimarron in August 1882 with passengers from Gunnison. Later in 1882, the line was completed to Montrose with tracks continuing over Cerro Summit. This scenic route was called the Black Canyon Route of the D&RG Western. Cimarron became an important shipping point for both cattle and sheep with the decline of the mining industry. Animals were shipped to eastern markets, usually Kansas City was the end point for Cimarron livestock. The last train ran through the Black Canyon in 1949, marking the end of the importance of railroads to this part of the Western Slope.
Junior Ranger Program:
Junior Ranger information is available at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park South Rim Visitor Center, the Cimarron Visitor Center and the Elk Creek Visitor Center at the Curecanti National Recreation Center on Highway 50. The goal of the program is to broaden the park experience for children grades 4th through 6th. Each NPS area offers worksheets that are designed to enhance the park experience for elementary school children. At the end of their visit, these packets are inspected and badges awarded to the individual. It is a positive way for children to interact and become part of the park environment, an activity that enhances the child’s visit and stay in the park.