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Outside projections indicate that President Obama’s recent designation of Chimney Rock as a national monument will double the economy benefit the iconic formation provides the region, bringing an additional $1.2 million to the area.
A recent letter in The SUN made a strong point based on a misunderstanding of the truth. The letter, about the DeVore house, insists Pagosa Springs has no interesting or important history. I beg to differ. The simple fact is that Pagosa Springs does a poor job of displaying its vibrant and interesting history.
The recent “Downtown Colorado Inc.” study has seven references to Pagosa’s disconnect with its history, it is that obvious. We have no downtown statue or obvious display of a historic character or events. We had a main street mural depicting facets of our history, but it was replaced by a beautiful, but non-historic painting of horses. We have no attractive coffee table-type book or video for sale displaying our history. Our museum desperately needs to be moved and improved.
Cultural and historic tourism is well known and a strong draw in many locations. Durango thrives on its history, why not here?
While our town council and its top tourism effort are invested in building amusement rides, we see a national monument with its attendant history, tourism draw and grant possibilities created in our backyard and, as far as I know, nothing is being done locally to address this amazing opportunity. There is a Chimney Rock National Monument exhibit opening in Boulder, Colo. I know, as I helped them. All the towns west and south of us display and market this Native American history, Pagosa doesn’t. Why not? Who’s going to get the lion’s share of that $1,200,000?
Many neighboring towns have murals and other displays of famous gunfighters, western scenes and even a cannibal. Most of this depicts a masculine or violent history. Our history is more feminine and about health, healing and recreation based on the hot spring. We have a related heroine and history of the life of Dr. Mary Winter Fisher. She embodies the very essence of Pagosa Springs. She is our own “medicine woman.” Her history is unique, interesting, romantic and dramatic. It fits the town and she is a perfect role model for young women. Pagosa should have a statue and display and all the Dr. Mary T-shirts, hats, coloring books, plates, cups, etc., the market can afford. She was a unique and great lady; she deserves to be remembered.
We have history variety from the ancient Native Americans to the first European settlers, to Summitville, to our Hispanic history, to the legendary Kit Carson, to lost treasures, to Fred Harman, to the Oppenheimers, etc. and, yes, even our own gunfight or two. We do not lack history, we lack any real effort to display and take economic advantage of it.