Hayden "I want to lay down in the street every time they tear down one of the old buildings," said Donna Hellyer, tour guide at the Hayden Heritage Center Museum. "They say it's a safety issue, but in the East you see things that are 300 years old. I don't understand it."
Looking around the museum, it's apparent that several people in Hayden feel exactly the same way. The former train depot is covered floor to ceiling with the tangible record of the area's past.
Hellyer has always been interested in history, she said, and three years ago when she saw an advertisement for a tour guide at the museum, she made the call immediately.
"It's like I'm surrounded by all my friends," she said, sweeping her hand around a room of railroad memorabilia, an antique switchboard and the remnants of a country mercantile.
The thing that makes the Hayden Heritage Center Museum special is that it has "roots," Hellyer said. Most of the names on the photographs are family names of current Hayden residents.
Outside the museum sits an aging thrasher that was burned in the Meeker massacre of 1879. Legend goes that Nathan Meeker wanted to train the Ute Indians to be farmers rather than nomads.
When he plowed over the natives' racetrack, they retaliated. The thrasher was destroyed in the resulting fire.
Years later, the thrasher was restored by the Fiske brothers, homesteaders of the Carpenter Ranch. Hellyer said one of Hayden's 80-year-old residents remembers her father driving it into town.
Near the thrasher is the school bell from the Edison School, a small one-room schoolhouse that stood where the Hayden Library stands today.
The museum is a memento map of the way things were.
There are fading black and white pictures of Coke Roberts, "father of the quarterhorse" and area resident. One corner is dedicated to Mr. Harris, a coal-mining town complete with company store that disappeared when the mine closed. The empty foundations of the houses are a walk away from Hayden.
Walking through the museum feels a little like a visit to a ghost town. Women's clothes stand next to soldier's uniforms. A hair brush. A pendant. A wedding dress. And lines and lines of tiny buttonhook shoes.
"Every time you come you see new things," Hellyer said.
The back rooms are a visit to the rest of the town as it was at the turn of the century: metal hospital gear, saddles made by local craftsmen and kitchen paraphernalia. Against the back wall is a long steel printing press. Heavy and intimidating, it was the first press to come to the valley.
The latest addition to the museum is also the last thing visitors see: a newly sorted and labeled geological collection.
This time last year, the minerals and fossils were piled in bins, but Tom de Lancey donated the past few months to creating a proper display and educational resource for the town of Hayden.
The museum opened Memorial Day weekend and will remain open through Sept. 29. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 276-4380.