Votes for Women!

It’s been 241 years since Abigail Adams asked her husband John Adams to “remember the ladies” in a letter dated March 31, 1776. It’s also been 241 years since the Founding Fathers declared “all men are created equal” and conveniently forgot the ladies. It was another 144 years before that equality in regards to voting was finally achieved. To put it in perspective, it hasn’t even been 100 years since women gained the vote in the United States! So why is this topic on the forefront today? Well, August 18, 1920 was the day the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, was ratified by the two-thirds majority needed to make it national.

Some states had already granted women the right to vote but the next step was nationwide suffrage. On June 4, 1919, the senate passed the 19th Amendment, which meant the next step was for state ratification. By March of 1920, 35 states had approved the amendment and only one more state was needed to achieve two-thirds majority. On August 18th, Tennessee voted for the ratification and women nationwide gained the right to vote. The amendment was certified into law on August 26 and women were finally allowed to cast a vote during the November election.

The fight for suffrage was a long one. Women had long desired the right to vote but the first organization at a national level for women’s suffrage wasn’t until 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. Susan B. Anthony soon joined the ranks and throughout her life campaigned strongly for women’s rights. In fact, here in the museum we have a letter, written on National Women Suffrage Association letterhead and signed by Susan B. Anthony!

The letter was written to a prominent resident of Cañon City, Maria M. Sheetz, in which she is urged to keep pushing the 16th Amendment [1]. This letter was written in 1877, around the time Anthony was gathering petitions with signatures from multiple states towards suffrage. To have this piece of history right here in the museum is incredible. Sadly, Susan B. Anthony never lived to see women gain the right to vote nationwide as she died in 1906. However, Maria M. Sheetz lived to see both Colorado grant women the right to vote in 1893 and the nation grant women the right to vote in 1920!

Interested in learning more history facts? Stop by the museum, give us a call, or send us a message!

If you would like to see the letter mentioned above, we’ll have it on display during our presentation on Fremont County Women on August 26 at 1 PM here at the museum.

[1] Women’s suffrage was originally proposed as the 16th amendment though it later became the 19th amendment.

Can you help us?

Sometimes here at museum we find things we don’t know much about. Remember, we’ve been around since 1928. That’s a lot of time to collect things! So we thought we’d reach out for a little help. Does anyone have any idea what these were for or where they might be from? On one ribbon is a small cabin or schoolhouse and on the other ribbon appears to be a chestnut. Now, what would the significance of a chestnut have been here in Colorado? If you have any ideas on what these items might be, please reach out to us at (719) 269-9036,, or leave us a comment!


Exhibit Opening – “Around the World in 80 Artifacts”

Are you ready to travel the world without even having to leave the state? If so, stop by the museum this Friday, August 4 between 5:00-7:00 PM during First Friday to see our new exhibit “Around the World in 80 Artifacts”! These artifacts illustrate the diverse history of Fremont County and which objects people considered important. These artifacts came to Fremont County through a variety of means and each has its own story to tell. You never know what story will spark an interest and encourage further learning! There’s something for everyone with so many different objects from so many varied places.

Some of these objects traveled from far away with local families such as a bowl made from a gourd. A favorite of the Director, Lisa, this bowl traveled from the West Indies in 1826 to the east and then on to Cañon City in an ox cart in 1864. Intricate designs of animals, flowers, the sun and leaves were applied to the outer surface with a nail. This family heirloom traveled here with John H. Harrison, one of the first settlers of the area and stayed with the family for a century.

Another beautifully worked piece that is so unique from than anything found in this area is the camel driver’s robe from Egypt. The fabric and design are artfully worked which is why it appeals to the Curator, Nancy, who feels it brings a certain mystique to the exhibit. This cloak was sent home by Glenn Jones to his wife while he was stationed in Egypt during World War II.

Another artifact received while stationed overseas is a Japanese samurai helmet. This helmet was gifted to Major John Merriam by Kiyamoto Wakatabe. Rachel, the Archives Librarian and Visitor Services Manager, loves the helmet for its metalwork and intricate design. Decorated with a crescent moon ornament, this artifact is both striking and practical.

But don’t overlook some of the smaller objects which lend their stories to a larger narrative. One case is a small Russian doll pincushion, received by Laura Huntley by a friend Grace Bennett in 1963. This artifact, a favorite of Kathleen, the Education Coordinator, has a tag on the bottom that reads “Made in Soviet Union.” Though the Soviet Union has long since been dissolved, it spanned the greater part of the 20th century and left its mark in history. This little doll with its knitted cap and red belt is a little piece of that history.

But not everything is so benign, such as a set of katars from India. These daggers even include handgrips for the blades with pieces of steel extending out in an H shape instead of a typical handle. These blades, a favorite of Brandon, the Museum Assistant, were donated by Lawrence Villers who collected them while stationed in India during World War II. One has to imagine these weren’t typical souvenirs!

These are only a few of the artifacts that span history that are within this new exhibit. So feel free to stop by and visit the museum to find which artifact draws you in with its unique story.



The information presented within this article has been compiled with research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.

What’s in a Name?

A question that pops up frequently here is how to pronounce Cañon City. Occasionally the tilde (the little squiggly line above the n) is dropped which leads to confusion. Cañon, pronounced the same way as the English spelling, simply means canyon in Spanish. The name makes sense when you think of the city’s close proximity to the Royal Gorge which, you guessed it, is a large canyon of the Arkansas River.

And this confusion with the tilde isn’t new. There were enough newspaper articles about the tilde that it has its very own research folder right here at the museum. And this folder has some interesting stories. According to an article, the Postmaster-General Payne “authorized the changing of the spelling of the name ‘Cañon City’ to ‘Canyon City’ and it is expected that the post-office department will adopt the new spelling which is now in use by the Santa Fe railroad.” This article from the Canon City Clipper was printed on August 16, 1904. The city council protested against this action on behalf of the citizens and sent a resolution to Washington asking the action be reconsidered and the change annulled. And it was! But the Cañon City Daily Record didn’t use the tilde until 1969, 65 years later! A newspaper article published in 1969 proclaimed the tilde would once again be restored to the masthead of the Daily Record.

As one of the very few cities in the United States that use a tilde in their name, the name of Cañon City is special in its own way. So just like the name of our city, go inspire others to curiosity!

Do you have any other questions about the history of Cañon City? Stop by or call us to find out the answers!

National Day of the American Cowboy


The 13th annual National Day of the American Cowboy is this Saturday July 22nd and Colorado has certainly had our fair share of cowboys and cowgirls. The National Day of the Cowboy is set aside to “celebrate the contribution of the Cowboy and Cowgirl to America’s culture and heritage.”

The origins of the American cowboy generally come from the vaqueros, with roots that trace through Spain, and later through Mexico and California. But the image conjured up by most people upon hearing the word cowboy is the time period of 1866-1886 with the open range and big cattle drives. This gave rise to the cattle barons, men who owned ranches with large herds of cattle and paid the wages of the cowboys that dominate our image of the Wild West. But the life of cowboys, both past and present, allows some time for fun.

Rodeos arose as a way for cowboys to have fun while also having the chance to showcase their skills. Everyone loves a little bit of competition! In 1869 in Deer Trail, Colorado, a competition took place between the cowboys of Hash Knife and Mill Iron ranches. This event doesn’t bear much resemblance to the rodeos of today since there were no rules, no prizes, and no fees. It was simply competition. It’s unclear what made someone the winner, but it’s thought that Emilnie Gradenshire, an Englishman, won the contest. Since then rodeos have become a much bigger event with entry fees, prizes, and a variety of competitions.

Cañon City has held rodeos since 1872 when the event was known as the “Old Settler’s Reunion”. It later became a “Wild West Show” and then the “Royal Gorge Roundup”. In the present day, it’s known as the “Royal Gorge Rodeo” and still held annually. While we may no longer lead long cattle drives across the open plains, the traditions still exist and the history is still alive.

So if you’re interested in hearing some tales about the life of a cowboy, join us Saturday July 22nd at 1 PM here at the museum to hear Jim Morrissey share his experiences!


The information presented within this article has been compiled with research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.

Happy Birthday Mr. Rudd!

It’s time to say happy birthday to someone important to the history of Cañon City, someone who is turning 198 years old! It’s the birthday of Anson Rudd, one of the first settlers in the area who lived in both the log cabin and the house right here behind the museum.

Anson Rudd was born on July 12, 1819 in Erie County, Pennsylvania. He became engaged to Harriet Spencer in 1837 at the age of 18. Harriet was just a year older at 19 but the pair did not marry for quite some time. Anson joined the gold rush in California but never struck it rich and it wasn’t until 1857 that he finally married Harriet. She must have been exceedingly patient! The Rudd’s stopped in Cañon City in 1860 while on their way to California but Harriet liked it so much the pair stayed. It was here in Cañon City they built the log cabin that still stands behind the museum today.

That cabin was the first cabin in the area to have wooden floors, and in June of 1861 their son Anson Spencer Rudd was born. The Rudd family lived in the cabin throughout the Civil War and longer. When war broke out in 1861, most men moved back east to fight for both sides of the conflict and Cañon City was all but deserted. The Rudd family was one of the few to stay. It is thought the population dropped to as low as only a dozen people. Despite this, Rudd held on to the belief the town would grow again.

Although a blacksmith by trade, Rudd held a variety of positions throughout his life. He was elected as the first territorial lieutenant governor although he never served because the election was overturned. He was the first sheriff of Fremont County and served two terms as county commissioner. He even served as the warden of the Colorado Territory Penitentiary for a short time.

It was in 1881 that he built the stone house that resides beside the log cabin. It was three stories and held four bedrooms. Anson and Harriet resided in the house until 1904 when they moved to Boulder, and soon after, Louisville. Anson died in 1907 and Harriet in 1910 and are both buried in the Fairmount cemetery in Denver.

As one of the early settlers of Cañon City, Anson holds a special place within our history. He was instrumental in building the town back up after the Civil War and left us a wonderful chance to learn about life in early Cañon City with both the cabin and the house that sit on the museum property. So happy birthday Anson Rudd! Stop by and visit us to explore the cabin and learn more about the Rudd family and their life in Cañon City!

A Rudd                                                                                        Anson Rudd
                    Photo Copyright Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center


The information presented within this article has been compiled with research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center. 

A Surprising Find

25 years ago in July of 1992, a group of volunteers from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and from the Garden Park Paleontology Society began an excavation braving high temperatures, thunderstorms and flash floods. So what was considered so important?

One of the most complete Stegosaurus stenops skeletons ever found! Missing only its front legs, the stegosaurus was around 80% complete.

In June of 1992 Ken Carpenter was leading a field excursion with volunteers from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science along with his assistant Bryan Small. Imagine their surprise when they found an almost completely intact stegosaurus! While most of the body was encased in a thick layer of rock, the head and a few neck vertebrae were more easily excavated. The head and neck bones were separated from the rest of the body and taken to Denver. Excavation of the body and tail began in July of 1992 which continued through August. It was a long and arduous process since the body and tail were under a layer of rock which had to be removed carefully to not damage the bone underneath.

Once the bone had been excavated, the next big step was to remove the skeleton from the ravine it rested in. But that wasn’t going to be an easy task. Now that the skeleton was in its jacket (a casing made of plaster that protects the specimen), it weighed over 6 tons! An impressive course of action was decided upon. A CH-47 “Chinook” helicopter from Fort Carson Army Base lifted the jacketed body out of the ravine. A crane truck was used to lift the 3,000 pound tail jacket out of the ravine.

So why was this find so important? For one, it was only the second stegosaurus skull ever found! It was also the most complete stegosaurus skeleton found at the time and answered a variety of questions. The skeleton was found articulated meaning it was found in one piece with the bones arranged in order. This allowed the orientation of the plates to be confirmed which had been long debated. The plates on a stegosaurus were arranged upright, running on either side of the spine in an alternating pattern.  It was also determined that the tail of a stegosaurus had a limited amount of movement and was held upright rather than dragging.

Named Ms. Spike, this stegosaurus is an impressive specimen. To read more about the excavation and prep work of Ms. Spike visit the Hands on the Land – Garden Park Fossil Area website. To learn more and see a cast of this great beast who once roamed this area stop by and visit us at the museum Wednesday through Saturday between 10 am and 4 pm!

Spike                                                                                                  Image taken during the excavation of Ms. Spike in Garden Park. Photo copyright Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.

Spike 2                                                                                       Image taken during prep work of Ms. Spike in Cañon City. Photo copyright Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.


The information presented within this article has been researched by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center using information compiled about Garden Park Fossil Area by Hands on the Land.