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Elbert County Museum
Kiowa, CO

The Elbert County Historical Society evolved from an early “Pioneer’s Picnic” in 1956. This group of men and women, many the descendants of early settlers, had a vision of preserving the history of Elbert County. Through the years, photographs and artifacts were collected and stored in barns and garages across the county, waiting for the museum that would be established.

The Historical Society acquired the original Kiowa High School building in 1991. Designed by the Denver architect team of Gardner & Parry, the Spanish colonial revival style structure was built in 1921 with all the modern conveniences…electricity, steam heat, indoor plumbing, and even a gymaniusm included in the basement! The school saw the consolidation of the one-room school houses in the Kiowa area, and was used until the mid-1980s.

515 Comanche Street (Highway 86)
Kiowa, CO 80117
Open Memorial Day Sunday through Labor Day Sunday
Thursday-Sunday 1-4 p.m. or by appointment 303-621-2229

get a map  |  driving directions

After the Society obtained the old school, work began on the building and plans were made for its first displays. The Elbert County Museum opened its doors in June 1993 with its first permanent exhibit, “Windows to the Past—Door to the Future.” In 2000, the building was designated an Elbert County Landmark, and since that time, restoration work continues.

The story of Elbert County’s trails is depicted in a series of hand-carved dioramas. Gold seekers eager to make their fortunes in the Rocky Mountains traveled the harsh and often dangerous trails of the eastern plains. Cutting through Elbert County, one of the more traveled of these early trails included the three branches of the Smoky Hill Trail. Extreme hardships along one of the branches resulted in its nickname, “Starvation Trail.”

A colorful stage curtain that originally hung in the Elizabeth Town Hall adorns one full wall in the museum. The stage curtain was rescued from a dumpster by a community member who recognized the significance of the curtain in Elizabeth’s history.

Historical Society members in Elbert County are a patient lot; they waited nearly four decades for their museum to open. Modern explorers don’t need to wait that long, however, for the collection is available for viewing at the former high school building, a stop on the Our Journey itinerary.

The Judge’s Bench and Courtroom furniture date back to Elbert County’s 1912 Courthouse. Legend has it that the bench, witness stand and jury box were original furnishings in a courthouse at Cripple Creek, Colorado. Following construction and dedication of the Elbert County Courthouse, the furniture was hauled to the new courtroom by Elbert County Under Sheriff Roy Brown. The beautifully detailed, interior oak façade of the Elbert Post Office is reminiscent of other early businesses in the county. Replaced by a modern post office in the late 1990s, this antique false front offers a glimpse into an age when customer service was hands-on.

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