Rolling meadows, weathered barns, waving wheat and country farmhouses distinguish Colorado’s eastern plains. This area, known as Colorado’s Outback country, was home for many of the state’s first settlers who forged their existence from the earth.
You can get a feel for the way they lived at the Old Town Museum in Burlington, Colorado, which portrays “life in the past lane” with its turn-of-the-century buildings and early-1900s artifacts that are housed in both original restored structures and replicas.
This 21-building complex houses everything from old-time farm machinery to little rooms of antique furniture. Special interactive exhibits offer children an opportunity to learn first-hand about pioneer life on the Colorado prairie.
Childhood memories of life on the plains came rushing back to me as my husband and I walked down wooden sidewalks to a refurbished original one-room school, a drugstore with a marble soda fountain where you can buy old-fashioned sodas, an old general store, a post office, a doll museum, a newspaper office, the railroad depot, a wooden country church, and an enormous old red barn. This giant barn was moved from a farm in nearby Kanorado, Kansas, and it boasts a 3,000-square-foot hayloft where melodramas are performed during the summer.The Manor House, which is one of the most elegant buildings in Old Town, was built in the early-1900s and later enlarged to accommodate two families. The two-story manor is furnished with many stunning artifacts and lovely Smithsonian reproduction wallpapers.
Another highlight is the re-created Longhorn Saloon. When visitors walk in, they can imagine being in the old Wild West where fights were settled with guns and rowdy cowboys gulped down drinks as they watched dancing girls. On summer weekends, the saloon hosts can-can girl dancing shows and cowboy shootouts. Visitors are welcome to belly up to the bar to buy some liquid refreshments, fresh popcorn and peanuts.
Also not to be missed in Burlington is the Kit Carson County Carousel at the Kit Carson County Fairgrounds. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, Belgian horses pull visitors in the Old Town Express Wagon to the carousel, which was built in 1905 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company for Elitch Gardens in Denver.
For a mere 25 cents, adults and children may ride this beautiful, restored carousel with 46 carved animals and fanciful creatures. Hand-painted decorations can be found on each of the carousel figures and saddle trappings are reminiscent of those used on cavalry mounts. The animals have intricate carvings with detailed coats, plus there are real antlers on the deer and real tails on many of the horses. Four chariots accommodate riders who would rather not climb onto an animal. Nostalgic music is provided by a 1909 Wurlitzer Monster Military Band Organ.
If You Go
Burlington’s Old Town is located on a 6.5-acre site at 420 S. 14th St., just off Interstate 70 near the Burlington Visitor Center. It is open year-round from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
Old Town Museum
420 South 14th Street
Burlington, CO 80807
For more information on the historic carousel, visit www.kitcarsoncountycarousel.com or call 800-825-0208.
Text and Photos Courtesy of Margaret Malsam