By Mary Pope-Cornum
Sitting in the middle of the main street of Sanford, Colorado is a white-washed, Spanish-style adobe building. A hand-painted sign above the door declares this the Sanford Museum. The sign was arranged for by one of the museum’s originators, Gary Bailey, and painted by a missionary who was in the area at the time. The museum was initiated by Sanford native Mary June Peterson Miller, who wrote a historical book about Sanford titled We Call it Home. She passed away in 2015.
The building, which houses the museum is a museum in-and-of itself as part of the area’s history. It was built in 1937 as a government project through the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Since that time it has housed a community center, firehouse, town hall, church meetings and band practice rooms for local students. An aerial lookout tower was built around 1955.
The decision to convert the building to a museum was made in 1995. The building has four rooms including a Pike’s Stockade room, with a mock-up of Zebulon Pike’s stockade and information regarding it. In other rooms, military uniforms hang along walls, with pictures and tributes to those who wore them. A plat of the town shows all the properties and their residents and visitors like to look for relatives’ houses on it.
Artifacts such as dresses, dolls and pictures were contributed by many families to commemorate their ancestors. Displays include an old cast iron stove, irons, dishes, appliances, and pictures of days gone by. Most of the history on display starts in the years after Sanford was settled in the late 1880s, with only a little of the earliest history of the town, which was settled by early Mormons migrating from Utah and the southern states, including a band of Catawba Indians who were part of the early Mormon settlers. Descendants of the Catawba still live in the area.