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A Jolly Trolley Ride in Cheyenne, Wyoming: History, Hauntings & Hilarity

It’s been interesting to watch my first article about Cheyenne, “So You Think You Know Cheyenne, Wyoming?” circulate the interwebs. Some of the comments are a reminder of how many of us tend to become jaded about our own hometowns. Whether you agree with me or not about Cheyenne, I think the city is swell and has a lot to offer visitors.

A Jolly Trolley Ride in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Riding the trolley. HeidiTown.com

Trolley Selfie | I love riding trolleys!

One of Cheyenne’s major assets is its colorful past. When you get to town, just look up at the amazing architecture in downtown. The buildings here are a reminder of the city’s rich history; and it’s a history that should be celebrated.

A Jolly Trolley Ride in Cheyenne, Wyoming. architecture shot HeidiTown.com

When you visit Cheyenne don’t forget to look up. The buildings here are fantastic.

Nowhere is this history more celebrated than on the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley Tours. Ryan and I hopped this 90-minute trolley tour during our visit. Lucky for us, our conductor, Brenda Badgley, grew up in Cheyenne, and so in addition to all the historical facts, she gave us personal tidbits about growing up in the town in the 60s. Continue reading

Viking Helmets Never Had Horns & Other Things You’ll Learn at the New Vikings Exhibit in Denver

Note from the Mayor: This exhibit is in its final weeks at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The Vikings sail away for good on August 13 (final day of the exhibit).

So you think you know about the Vikings, but did you know that the word “viking” isn’t a noun? That’s right, it’s actually a verb. You’ll learn tidbits like this and a lot more at the new Vikings: Beyond the Legend exhibition at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

Viking Helmets Never Had Horns & Other Things You'll Learn at the New Vikings Exhibit in Denver, HeidiTown.com 1

This guy appears to have lost his entire crew. Photo: HeidiTown.com

My husband was ecstatic about this exhibit because he’s a history nerd and loves anything to do with Vikings, Barbarians, Romans, etc. If they carried swords, he’s into it. So we set up a tour of the new exhibit with curator Steve Nash. When you’d visit, I’d encourage you to pick up the audio guide before going through this exhibit. This is akin to a tour with a curator.

I’m not going to tell you all the things we learned while going through this exhibit, because I need to leave a few mysteries for you to discover for yourself. However, one fascinating tidbit is the meaning of the word “viking.” While it’s frequently used to define a group of people as in, “the Vikings.” In actuality, the people we call Vikings would “go on a viking.” It’s a verb used to describe the act of going on a journey (most likely a raid). Continue reading

Colorado Springs, Land of Museums

Founded as a resort town, Colorado Springs has long been a center for arts and culture. While Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows were taking place in Denver, Colorado Springs was hosting writers and artists.

I believe this predilection for the finer things in life is one reason the city has so many museums. Visit Colorado Springs has 24 area museums listed on their web site, making this city a must-visit for museum fanatics.

Colorado Springs, Land of Museums. FAC - HeidiTown.com

Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, Colorado

A Visit to the Money Museum in Colorado Springs

The Money Museum is all about money. It features one of the most complete U.S. gold coin collections ever assembled, including many one-of-a-kind specimens, and the History of Money exhibit will show and tell you how your “change has changed” over the years. We, however, visited this museum to see their Olympic Games exhibit which will run through March 2017. Continue reading

A tour of the Timberlane Farm Museum in Loveland, Colorado

Belgian Horse at Timberlane Farm Museum HeidiTown

Funny picture because I caught this horse in mid-chew.

Collections at museums often represent snapshots from different places and different people. To find a collection of historical artifacts from one family is rare. To find them at the farm where the family lived for more than 100 years is even rarer.

This is what makes Timberlane Farm Museum in Loveland, Colorado so special.

The farm has been in the same family since 1860, when Judge W.B. Osborn and his wife Margaret acquired a 160 acre homestead in the Thompson Valley. Over the years the farm grew, but today just 17 acres remain, but also remaining are thousands of stories and hundreds of genuine artifacts from one of the first families of Loveland.

The farm brand at Timberlane Farm Museum HeidiTown

The farm brand was a T. Pictured here.

A visit to Timberlane Farm Museum brings Loveland history and Larimer County history alive – literally. I was greeted by the moo of cows as I exited my car at the farm on a snowy April day.

Located at 1st Avenue and Denver Avenue, hundreds of Lovelanders drive by Timberlane Farm every day, but few know much about the place. The museum was established six years ago as a nonprofit by Louise Osborn Gardels, the great granddaughter of Judge W.B. Osborn. Now 90-years-old, Gardels lives in Loveland and plays a vital role at the museum.

This living history museum truly breathes life into Loveland’s history from the mid-1800s to the 1940s. I’m not going to give everything about the farm away in this post because you should go on a tour and get the real story. I will, however, share with you a few of my favorite things from my tour.   Continue reading

A stay at The Rush Casino in Cripple Creek, Colorado

The Rush Casino & Hotel by HeidiTown

The Rush Casino in Cripple Creek, Colorado. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved.

While in Cripple Creek I was incarcerated and lost some money, but I’d still go back. We arrived in Cripple Creek on a cloudy Friday afternoon. I had been invited to be a guest at the brand new Rush Casino, formerly the Gold Rush. The building had been shuttered for three years before the new owners bought it, renovated the place and opened in August 2012.

I had never been to Cripple Creek before, and I can’t say that about many Colorado towns, so I was extra excited as we past Manitou Springs and then Woodland Park. As we neared our destination we were greeted by this view, just outside of Cripple Creek.

view driving into Cripple Creek Colorado photo by HeidiTown

View driving into Cripple Creek, Colorado. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved.

When we arrived in town I was quite delighted by the look of the place. Cripple Creek is an authentic mining town, all red brick and Victorian charm. While they legalized gambling in the early 1990s, the town has managed to retain its historical appeal.

At The Rush we found a open-plan casino, with extra high, golden ceilings and lots of elbow room. I dislike feeling pinned in at a casino, so this was a pleasant surprise. Apparently every guest at The Rush receives a mini-bar gift basket, a practice I would encourage every hotel to establish. At check in we were asked what we would like in our gift basket and given a list of items we could choose from.

mini-bar gift basket at The Rush Casino in Cripple Creek photo by HeidiTown

Our mini-bar gift basket at The Rush. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved.

While the casino at The Rush has been fully remodeled, the boutique hotel upstairs hasn’t receive as much attention, but there is a fresh coat of paint and upscale amenities like flat screen televisions and high end bath products. Our large room overlooked Bennett Avenue and included a nice view of the vintage Gold Rush sign.

We spent the first night gambling at The Rush, and winning at everything with the exception of three-card poker. I had very good luck at the Elvis game; the King and I got on famously. I enjoy these new games that include a chair with surround sound. At this game you rock out to famous Elvis tunes while trying to hunt down the rabbit in the Hound Dog Hunt. It’s seriously fun.

Elvis machine at The Rush photo by HeidiTown

Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved.

In addition to your mini-bar gift basket, guests at The Rush get free “bottomless” breakfast at the casino’s restaurant. I really enjoyed the breakfasts during our stay, especially the fresh jalapenos in my omelet, and you can’t beat the $1.50 bloody Mary.

We spent the morning of our second day exploring Bennett Avenue. As we scouted out the other casinos and did some shopping at the boutiques along the northeast side town, it began to snow. The town was quickly blanketed in white and with the twinkling Christmas lights, it felt very much like an old-fashion kind of holiday.

There are some cute shops in Cripple Creek, including a candy store that we stopped at every day during our stay and 9494, my favorite store in town where I bought an adorable hat. The General Store is over 40 years old and squished between two casinos on the south side of Bennett. It is an entertaining place to shop and includes lot of stuff for kids.

Back at the casino we met up with my in-laws who had arrived from Denver. Lunch at The Rush got fairly high marks from our group, especially the chicken wrap.  After lunch, we left my mother-in-law at the slot machines and took my father-in-law with us to get into some trouble – and we succeeded, as the photos prove.

Heidi at the Cripple Creek jail museum photo by HeidiTown

Ryan at the Cripple Creek Jail Museum photo by HeidiTown

My father-in-law goofing off at the Cripple Creek jail museum by HeidiTown

As you can tell, we had a good laugh at the Outlaw & Lawmen Jail Museum.

That evening we spent time gambling at The Rush, and my husband had too much fun at the Monopoly slot machine and the black jack tables. Every Saturday night the casino brings in a DJ who takes requests and keeps things festive. The drinks and fun flowed, and despite not winning the hourly cash prize of $100, we had another great night.

The Rush Casino Cripple Creek December 2012 HeidiTown.com

The Rush Casino, formerly The Gold Rush. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved.

I’m very excited about the future of The Rush Casino in Cripple Creek. The Palladium is a 900-seat outdoor auditorium directly behind the casino and the owners plan to renovate it starting this spring. It should be open for summer concerts in 2013 – more than enough reason to go back and stay at The Rush again.

You can find The Rush online at TheRushCasino.com. You can also find them on Facebook HERE and follow them on Twitter.

PLEASE NOTE: The Rush Casino unexpectedly closed on Friday, January 4, 2013. I still highly recommend a trip to Cripple Creek, Colorado.

HeidiTown on the Radio – A random bunch of Colorado-related stuff

HeidiTown.com sign

Do you follow TheMayorofHeidiTown on Instagram? You should! Photo from HeidiTown.com on Instagram.

This week’s radio show on KRFC 88.9 FM covers a bunch of stuff including the new online Masters in Tourism Program at Colorado State University, the Hospitality, Events and Tourism program at Metropolitan State University, my upcoming weekend trip to Cripple Creek, Colorado, a review of my favorite post from this fall season and a little housekeeping. KRFC is asking for your help – if you are a listener, please take a moment and take the survey here.

Listen to this week’s radio segment HERE.

Featured Festival: Denver Christkindl Market

A grand welcome to the market by Ms. Laura Kantwerk.

A grand welcome to the market by Ms. Laura Kantwerk. Photos by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved.

It seems rather appropriate for the Mayor of a place called HeidiTown to have a connection to the German Chamber of Commerce – Colorado Chapter. Full disclosure: This organization has been advertising their events with HeidiTown for a while now and it’s a match made in heaven.

This organization puts together well-organized and top-notch events that I am more than happy to slap my endorsement on. Their Biergarten Festival is a summer party my husband and I look forward to every year.

The GACC-CO’s winter event is the Denver Christkindl Market. In operation for 12 years, this year there’s a new look, but the market hasn’t lost its intimate, European feel.

Christkindl markets have deep roots in Germany where the oldest recorded Christmas market dates back to 1310 in Munich. Held in front of churches, the markets were often part of a person’s church visit. Today, these markets are still held in town squares across Germany.

Tour the Denver Christkindl Market to find unique, handmade gifts for nearly everyone on your list. I found lots of knit hats and beautiful artisan jewelry that I’d love to find under the tree this Christmas.

Pastries at the Denver Christkindl Market

Pastries at the Denver Christkindl Market.

The best part of the market, in my illustrious opinion, is the food and the beer/entertainment tent. I’d recommend coming hungry, having some delicious European-style food and a beer or two and then going shopping.

While we were visiting the beer tent last weekend, the Chalet Dancers from Castle Rock were peforming and their authentic German dances impressed the crowd, me included. Under the tent you’ll find a full lineup of entertainment on the weekday evenings and weekends.

Sipping a beer or gluehwein (spiced wine), you’ll be transported to a different time and place, and this is what I love the most about the Denver Christkindl Market and the Biergarten Festival – it’s a chance to experience a little German culture right here in Colorado. Our state is rich with German heritage, but we don’t always get a chance to see it, taste it and feel it in action. I applaud the German Chamber of Commerce – Colorado Chapter for keeping this culture alive and well.

Keep in mind that the market is a wonderful event for children – from entertainment to delicious pastries, make the Denver Christkindl Market a part of their childhood memories this Christmas.

chalet dancers at Denver Christkindl Market

Chalet Dancers from Castle Rock, Colorado.

Denver Christkindl Market

Skyline Park (16th & Arapaho)

November 23 to December 22, 2012

Sunday – Wednesday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Thursday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Join the Denver Christkindl Market on Facebook

www.denverchristkindlmarket.com

Featured Festival: Gold Camp Christmas in Cripple Creek & Victor, Colorado

santas workshop cripple creek parade cunningham

Gold Camp Christmas, photo courtesy of Maria Cunningham & VisitCrippleCreek.com.

The holidays come alive in Cripple Creek and Victor on December 6-9, 2012, during Gold Camp Christmas. One hundred years ago, thousands of people converged on this area of Colorado in search of fortune in the form of gold. The area is rich in mining history and today visitors can explore mines or visit a number of museums that tell the wild story of Cripple Creek’s lively past.

Today, people visit Cripple Creek seeking treasure of a different sort. The town is popular with gamblers who want a friendly environment where the air has always been thick with the anticipation of a big jackpot.

The Sounds of Christmas“ is the theme of this year’s festivities in Cripple Creek and Victor. Please note that activities will be taking place in both towns throughout the weekend. Approximately five miles separate these two historic mining communities.

The party kicks off on Friday with activities during the day followed by the Parade of Lights down Victor Avenue at 6 p.m. Activities are planned throughout the day on Saturday including a Christmas bazaar, ice skating, an Elf Emporium, musical entertainment, a Christmas Parade at noon in Cripple Creek and more.

riders in Cripple Creek parade Charlie Chambers

Photo courtesy Charlie Chambers and VisitCrippleCreek.com.

 

Don’t miss the special Colorado Springs Chorale performance planned for 3 p.m. at the Cripple Creek Baptist Church. That evening, “A Cripple Creek Christmas Carol” is on stage at the Butte Theater (there are multiple shows on the calendar).

Visitors interested in going on the Lighted Mine Headframe Guided Tour on Friday evening can catch shuttles leaving the Aspen Mine Center located in Cripple Creek at 5:30 p.m. There are no reservations, it’s first come, first serve, so arrive early! More info at  1-877-858-4653.

View a comprehensive schedule of all the events planned for Gold Camp Christmas here.

Cripple Creek is a 2-hour drive from Denver and just 45 minutes west of Colorado Springs.

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I’m spending a weekend in Cripple Creek later this month, so watch for a fun travel piece about my adventures in this Wild West town.  

Be a tourist in your own town

Greeley Freight Train Museum

Greeley Freight Train Museum (Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved)

As tourists we take the time to learn the history and hidden secrets of the places we visit, but how many of us know the story of our own town?

Earlier this year I wrote a post entitled, “Become an advocate for your town,” and today’s post has a similar feel, although I fear I’m going to get preachier. In that piece I gave you five ways to become an advocate because your advocacy will result in a positive economic impact for your town.

Today, I want to inspire you to become a tourist in your own town because it will enrich your life. HeidiTown is about festival, events and travel in Colorado, however, this post is for people who live in Florida, California, or anywhere in between. Every town has a different tale to tell, but many of us don’t know our community’s story.

This post was inspired by two recent incidents. Earlier this fall I attended an event held at the Greeley Freight Station Museum in Greeley, Colorado. Most of those in attendance were from Greeley, but none of the thirty-some people there had ever been to the museum before.

Train enthusiasts come from around the world to visit the Greeley Freight Station Museum because it’s truly one-of-a-kind, but many who live in the region haven’t stepped foot in the building.

Tread of Pioneers Museum Colorado

Tread of Pioneers Museum in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. .Photo taken by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer in February 2011. All rights reserved.

I had a similar experience earlier this month in Steamboat Springs. While there I took a walking tour presented by the Tread of Pioneers Museum in downtown. I’ve been to Steamboat Springs a number of times, but was surprised to realize I knew very little about the history of Ski Town USA. I was even more startled when our tour guide informed us that she’s been giving these historical tours twice a week for about a year and no local has ever been on the walk. In fact, locals seldom visit the museum, unless it’s a group of school children.

It’s time we all became tourists in our own towns. There’s no doubt in my mind that knowing your town’s story and hidden treasures will enrich your life. It may even make you a little prouder about where you live. So this weekend, get out and discover your town; visit a museum, visit your town’s Visitors Center, and find out what hidden gems are right outside your front door.

Featured Festival: Emma Crawford Coffin Races in Manitou Springs, Colorado

Coffin Race in Manitou Springs

All photos courtesy of ManitouSprings.org.

Let’s be frank, Manitou Springs is quirky, and sometimes downright weird, but that’s a big part of why I like it. We’ve done several weekend trips to Manitou over the years, and it’s always a memorable experience. In fact, if you follow me on Twitter, the blue-haired lady I use as an avatar is from a photo I took in Manitou of a pinball machine.

Located just 15 minutes west of Colorado Springs, Manitou is an easy weekend trip for anyone living in the Denver metro area. It has some delightful B&Bs, the Cliff House, lots of yummy restaurants, art galleries and the Miramont Castle Museum, one of the best “house” museum tours I’ve taken in Colorado.

But I’m not writing about any of that today; today’s it’s all about Emma Crawford. She died on December 4, 1891, at the age of 19 of complications from tuberculosis. She was a rather unconventional gal who believed she was spiritually connected to Red Mountain and had asked her fiancé to bury her there should she die from her disease.

coffin races Manitou Springs Colorado

Scary scene from the Parade of Coffins.

Ms. Crawford was buried on top of Red Mountain per her wishes, but in 1912 her body was removed by a railroad company and reburied on the other side of the mountain. Unfortunately, poor Emma’s remains were washed down the mountainside during a rain storm in 1929. She is now buried in Crystal Valley Cemetery in Manitou Springs, but her soul is not at rest. It is said that she will haunt the town until her body is returned to the top of Red Mountain.

The WAKE of Emma Crawford

Today, Emma Crawford is celebrated annually during the Coffin Races held in her honor. This nutty event has been on my radar for quite a while, and unfortunately, I still haven’t been to it. The festivities start on Friday, October 26, 2012 with a Wake for Emma at Miramont Castle. For information and tickets to the wake, go here.

coffin races 3

The weird & wacky are on full display at this event.

The PARADE & RACES

On Saturday, October 27, the Parade of Coffins starts at noon, followed by the Coffins Race. Fifty teams compete in what has become a spectacle of the spooky and the bizarre. Immediately following the races, stay in downtown Manitou Springs for the Emma Crawford Estes Sidewalk Sale.

For more information on Manitou Springs go to ManitouSprings.org, like them on Facebook,  or follow them on Twitter @Visit_Manitou and @ILoveManitou.

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The historic information regarding Ms. Emma Crawford was discovered at MyteriousColorado.com. If you like ghosts and other things that go bump in the night, check them out!

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