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Grants Effectiveness: Colorado

The Preserve America grant awarded to the City of Denver, which has been used to create the Denver Story Trek program, has made a significant impact on Denver's heritage tourism capacity, serving as a catalyst for a city-wide heritage tourism effort that impacts five historic site museums, dozens of local landmarks and the historic core neighborhoods in the city. To date, the funds from Preserve America have allowed us to leverage more than $131,500 in additional program support. These funds have preserved jobs at local non-profit agencies and have been invested into local businesses working on Denver Story Trek.
-- City of Denver, after the completion of the “Denver Heritage Trail” Preserve America Grant

Preserve America Grants assist local governments in implementing projects that strengthen their heritage tourism and preservation efforts. In Colorado, many of the grants awarded to communities in the state focus on promoting a better appreciation for history and educating people about unique local resources through both their physical remains and the stories that bring them to life. Grant projects in Colorado exemplify how Preserve America Grants assist in sustainable preservation and related tourism activities at the local level that are not funded by any other national program.

The Molly Brown House Museum is one stop on the "Denver Story Trek," three heritage trails developed using a Preserve America Grant.
Denver received a grant to create three historic trails for car, bus, or bicycle called “Denver Story Trek.” The trails highlight five local museums, dozens of local landmarks, and several historic neighborhoods, with a brochure revealing a thematic history of the city of Denver. During the planning stage, students from across Colorado were asked to provide feedback to make the tour more enticing to the younger generation. Through the students’ feedback, the tour name was changed from “Denver Heritage Trail” to “Denver Story Trek,” in addition to changes made to the trails themselves and the way public information is provided. This completed grant has already had a major impact on local historic sites visitation, increased partnerships among historic resources, and increased public interest in the overall history and preservation of Denver as part of the local economic engine.

Pueblo, Colorado used a grant to develop educational materials about the city's rich steel industry history.
The city of Pueblo received a grant for “Forged in Steel: 121 Years of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company and Bessemer Neighborhood.” The history of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF & I) and the workers’ housing in the Bessemer neighborhood is a major part of Pueblo’s history. The Preserve America Grant allowed the Bessemer Historical Society to publish educational material on the CF & I archives, the Steelworks Museum of Industry and Culture, and the historic Bessemer neighborhood. The material will educate the community and travelers about the city’s rich history in the steel industry.

Silverton received a Preserve America Grant to study the mining heritage of their community and nearby San Juan County. The historic mining camp of Animas Forks, for example, is a major tourism element in the community; however, it has deteriorated from years of visitation and weatherization. The Bureau of Land Management and volunteers have already contributed to efforts to monitor and preserve the site. The grant will allow a historic structure assessment and preservation plan to be completed for Animas Forks, a vital step in the long-term preservation of the site. A documentary video highlighting the history of mining and focusing on the local area will be created as an additional promotional and interpretive tool.

Durango, Colorado steam excursion train, a historic narrow gauge railroad.
The city of Durango received a grant for the “Durango Discovery Museum Interpretive Plan and Education Project.” The city of Durango is already a popular regional tourist attraction due to the Durango and Silverton Railroad steam excursion train and the city’s location in the Four Corners area. The historic Colorado Ute Power Plant, recently rehabilitated at a cost of more than $1 million, will be adaptively used as the Durango Discovery Museum. The museum’s focus on science and industry for children makes the power plant an appropriate location for the museum. With the grant, the museum will develop an
The Durango Discovery Museum, housed in the former Colorado Ute Power Plant. A grant will fund an interpretive plan and materials.
interpretive plan, produce a historic documentary video, and publish a history booklet. The video and booklet will be used as tourism resources, as they will be placed in hotels and other local destinations to draw visitors. The project is thus combining outstanding historic preservation with an exciting new and sustainable use.

Through these grant projects, these four Preserve America communities were able to highlight the unique, local heritage assets in their midst and use them in new ways to support local revitalization and build local partnerships. The projects helpfully remind us once again that it is possible to use the past to help build a community’s future. All that is required, along with some financial support, is an appreciation for possibilities and some creativity.

Posted June 23, 2009

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