2022 GCHA President’s Report
B. Travis Wright, MPS presented his 2022 GCHA President’s Report for the Grand County Historical Association on November 12, 2022.
As President of the Grand County Historical Association, I am excited to present my annual report for 2022. Thank you to GCHA staff, volunteers, board, and membership for making this organization one that I am immensely proud of representing.
This year, we not only continued to build on the successes of previous years; but we also passionately advocated for the history within Grand County. Beginning in January, we had a public call with the US Army Corps of Engineers about the Fraser Valley Parkway project. As I mentioned in last year’s report, this would negatively impact the German Prisoner of War Camp that once existed—eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and perhaps one of the best preserved in Colorado. Some in attendance were “opposed to the opposition” of this project—in short, they argued World War II wasn’t ancient history and isn’t worth remembering or saving. After hearing many of the opinions, it was time for the GCHA to provide our response. I began, “Eyes of history and of future generations are looking at us today: on this International Holocaust Remembrance Day—and here we have a German POW camp in our backyards. How will this chapter of Grand County history be best preserved and remembered?” I passionately believe it is our job as the keepers of the county’s history and as professional historians to ensure that the voices of the past continue to have a voice today, and far into the future.
The calendar turns to April and I find myself at the other end of the Moffat Tunnel, where I took our history across the pond: many previews of GCHA’s incredible image collection was shown and credited in an international documentary, “World’s Most Scenic Railway Journeys (Season 4, Episode 5)” that debuted on Channel 5 in the United Kingdom. The episode showcased the Rocky Mountaineer; and as the Moffat Tunnel Historian, I discussed how the tunnel is a cathedral to engineering and a realization of David Moffat’s dream—as well as a uniquely American achievement from nearly a century ago.
In early June, I met with Dr. Mike Childers and CSU student, Addie Brian on leveraging technology to best identify what historic resources at risk across Grand County need our help or watchful eye. I won’t steal any more of Addie’s thunder, as she presents to you momentarily—suffice it to say that I’m immensely pleased with her work and incredibly proud of what she has built for all of us.
As you’ll hear from Shanna later on this evening, financially 2021 was our best year yet and we are on track for a strong 2022. However, time continues to exert a pressure on the historic buildings under our care—including this one. Listen closely and the building doesn’t creak as much as it sighs—heavy with age and in need of a new roof to protect her from the fierce winter snows and summer storms that roll off of Byers Peak. For us and for historic preservation both inside and outside of Grand County, it is important to save both the vernacular structures such as this one, as well as edifices that undoubtedly project power, such as President Eisenhower’s Western White House. It’s also important to preserve and protect landscapes, rail cars, photograph collections, Native American artifacts, wedding dresses, and so many other artifacts, because what we safeguard from loss—what we refuse to destroy—speaks volumes about who we are now and who we are yet to become.
The pages of the calendar flutter by—and we’ve arrived at yet another November. Thank you for standing alongside us, pitching in, cheering us on, supporting us, and trusting us to continually renew our wonder and reverence for the past with you, with Grand County, and with our visitors from across the world. Thank you.
B. Travis Wright, MPS
Saturday, November 12, 2022