Road trip – Grand Junction. 4/22/21

Today is our third day in Grand Junction so we are sort of hunting around for things to do. We decide to go to the Museum of Western Colorado, have lunch, and do a little urban archeology.

The Museum of Western Colorado has a very interesting section about the indigenous people of the area, the Utes. The first people, the Toltec, were born from seven caves and were the forerunners of the Aztecs. The Toltec despised the Aztecs and thought they were lower than dogs. The Aztecs, however, were fierce fighters and drove out the Toltec and adopted their creation story. Through studying the Utes, anthropologists have found not only a common cultural thread but also commonality of language with the Aztecs. The Utes were driven out of the Grand Junction area and white settlers were invited in by the US government in the 1880s.

Aztec and Ute Legends – the picture on the right shows the Aztec/Ute creation story of the seven caves.

Western Colorado has been the site of uranium mining since 1898. With new applications for radium the area saw a boom of mining in the early 20th century with radium being worth, in today’s dollars, $2700 per milligram. The mining boom busted in the 1920s due to discovery of deposits in the Belgian Congo. A new boom started in 1935 and continued after WWII due to the government stockpiling uranium for nuclear weapons.

John with info about the uranium boom

Next we head downtown to look at the older buildings in Grand Junction. Mostly the older buildings can be identified by their upper stories. The street level story has usually been repurposed. A lot of the buildings, John comments, have been 19060s-ified with ugly facades which is too bad.

A look along Main St. The original plan was to sell lots that were 25 feet wide and encourage merchants to buy more than one.
This bank building constructed in 1910 was originally only two windows wide. It was widened to four window in 1921.
The first wing of the Grand Hotel was built in 1895 and it was enlarged in 1906.

We catch a late lunch at the Main St. Cafe which is in one of the old buildings and has a 1950s theme. I have a salad and sandwich and enjoy reading the numerous signs that abound.

A tasty salad on a yellow Formica topped table
I enjoyed this sign.

We are both tired out and decide to go back to the hotel which is quite a distance from downtown. Later we go downstairs in the hotel and sit in the bar (!) and have a glass of wine and a burger.


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