Laurel Watson, curator of the Hayden Heritage Center, points out photos in an exhibit featuring the Elkhead community. A tour of the Elkhead Schoolhouse will be part of Hayden Heritage Days next weekend.

Photo by Nicole Inglis

Laurel Watson, curator of the Hayden Heritage Center, points out photos in an exhibit featuring the Elkhead community. A tour of the Elkhead Schoolhouse will be part of Hayden Heritage Days next weekend.

Hayden heritage comes to life at event

New weekend event to feature author, historic tour



Hayden Heritage Center/Courtesy

The Elkhead Schoolhouse is pictured here circa 1917. The schoolhouse is on private land but will be open for a public tour during Hayden Heritage Weekend next week.


Joan Hoffman/Courtesy

This painting by Joan Hoffman of the Elkhead Schoolhouse will be auctioned off during next week's Hayden Heritage Weekend.

If you go

Hayden Heritage Weekend:

July 5

■ “Writing History” workshop with Dorothy Wickenden, Harriet Freiberger and Dan Tyler ($15 to $20, Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, 6 p.m.)

July 6

■ Horse Heritage evening, including dinner, bird watching and quarter horse history exhibit ($60 to $75, Carpenter Ranch, 5 p.m.)

July 7

■ Elkhead ranch and schoolhouse tour ($125, meet at Hayden Granary, 9 a.m.)

■ Barn dance ($10 to $30, Hayden Granary, 6 p.m.)

July 8

■ Book signing with Dorothy Wickenden at Museum of Northwest Colorado, 1 to 3 p.m.


Register by Friday at

— Ever since Dorothy Wickenden’s historical book “Nothing Daunted” hit the shelves and The New York Times best-seller list last year, Hayden Heritage Center curator Laurel Watson said she’s been flooded with questions from visitors about the book and its Northwest Colorado roots.

The visitors’ curiosity was piqued by Wickenden’s story, which re-creates the Western pilgrimage of her grandmother and grandmother’s friend as they set out to be teachers in a small, progressive schoolhouse in the Elkhead community north of Hayden.

In response to the buzz, a group of local community leaders has joined together to offer the first Hayden Heritage Weekend, a several-day event organized by the Hayden Heritage Center, Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, Yampa Valley Feeds and the Nature Conservancy.

All of the organizers are looking to the spirit of the book’s central characters, Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood, for inspiration.

“It’s that spirit of community that’s highlighting this legacy,” said Betsy Blakeslee, facility manager of the Nature Conservancy’s Carpenter Ranch. “That sense of community is what’s putting this all back together.”

The event began as a book signing with Wickenden and took on a life of its own, expanding into a weekend of celebrating Hayden’s history.

The book signing will be July 5 at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, coinciding with a “Writing History” workshop with Wickenden and two local historical authors.

On July 6, Carpenter Ranch will host a Horse Heritage evening with dinner and an exhibit on the deep roots of quarter horses in the community.

July 7 will mark an exclusive opportunity to tour the now privately owned Elkhead Schoolhouse featured prominently in “Nothing Daunted.”

Wickenden, executive editor of the New Yorker, will be on hand for the tour as will Hayden historical expert Belle Zars.

“The throbbing heart is really that schoolhouse,” Zars said about Hayden Heritage Weekend. “And just to be able to sit inside it — it’s a beacon to the aspirations for young people in Routt County. It’s a big deal.

“This is the first time the schoolhouse has been open for a public tour.”

There will be a traditional barn dance at the Hayden Granary on Saturday night complete with an art auction to benefit the Heritage Center.

The art will come from local plein air painters who are creating work during the week.

July 8 is another Wickenden book signing at the Museum of Northwest Colorado in Craig.

Preregistration for the events ends Friday.

The organizers said they already are looking ahead and hope to plan another Hayden Heritage Weekend in 2013.


Tammie Delaney 4 years, 10 months ago

Registrations for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tour the Elkhead rock schoolhouse with descendents of the Woodruff; Carpenter and Perry families are still being taken at! All proceeds benefit the Hayden Heritage Center.


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