Archive for the ‘Fort Collins Museum’ tag
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine played hooky from work and suggested we hike at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area. If you’re not familiar with Soapstone, it’s probably because it only opened to the public in 2009. However, archaeologists have been talking about the Lindenmeier Archaeological Site, which is part of Soapstone, since the Smithsonian and Colorado Museum of Natural History excavated it in the 1930s.
I really enjoyed Soapstone, but before I went the first time, I wish I would have researched it to get even more out of the experience. I thought it was a very peaceful place to hike with some great views. There is something about prairie grass swaying in the breeze that makes it easy to forget your troubles… But I had no idea the Lindenmeier Archaeological Site is considered “One of the most important archaeological finds in the Western Hemisphere,” according The Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center.
Learn a little about Soapstone before you go
Soapstone is about 25 miles from downtown Fort Collins, but there is much you can learn about it before you get there. I suggest some quick visits to the Fort Collins Convention & Visitors Bureau Downtown Information Center (19 Old Town Square) and The Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center (200 Mathews Street). At the end of this post, I include a suggested itinerary to get the most out of your day at Soapstone. Particularly for families, Soapstone offers a great mix of adventure and education.
The Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center put together a great booklet about the excavation that can also be downloaded online: http://www.fcmdsc.org/museum/lindenmeier.pdf. To see first hand some of the artifacts found at the Lindenmeier site and immerse yourself in its history, visit the museum’s The Discovery exhibit - its collection is only rivaled by the Smithsonian. Additional artifacts were added to the exhibit last year to celebrate the opening of Soapstone Prairie Natural Area.
Stop by the Downtown Information Center to pick up a map and ask questions about Soapstone. The map can also be found on the City of Fort Collins Web site along with background information and an overview of the different trails.
According to the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center, the Lindenmeier excavation site was “the smoking gun that proved humans had lived on this continent for at least 10,500 years.” It is an Ice Age Indian site that archaeologists say sheds light on a culture many didn’t believe existed in North America. According to the booklet from the museum, at the time it was believed humans had only been on the continent 3,000 to 4,000 years, thus the extreme interest from the Smithsonian in this site.
What was also significant according to the museum booklet, is how much more advanced people of the Ice Age were than what was previously thought. Archaeologists learned people of this time stayed in one place longer (but weren’t afraid to travel), were more socially inclined and had a wide variety of functional and decorative items. It wasn’t just about hunting and gathering – apparently even back then in Fort Collins, lifestyle mattered.
Make a Day Out of It
- Download a map, determine which trail(s) you want to hike and get directions.
- Pack some lunches to eat at Soapstone.
- Visit The Discovery exhibit at The Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center in the morning to see artifacts from the Lindenmeier excavation and learn more about the history of the site. Take a copy of The Excavation at Lindenmeier booklet with you or better yet, download it here and read it before you go: http://www.fcmdsc.org/museum/lindenmeier.pdf
- Before or after your hike, have lunch at the Lindenmeier Overlook (0.3 miles from the trailhead), a unique picnic area with some great views.
- Hike the Towhee Loop, the Mahogany Loop or part of both. Be sure to spend a little time on the Canyon Trail, which can be your connection between the two loops.
- The Lindenmeier Archaeological Site is part of the Fort Collins’ Soapstone Prairie Natural Area (SPNA). You can also hike between Soapstone and the Red Mountain Open Space.
- Soapstone Prairie National Park is open daily March through November from dawn until dusk.
- Admission is free and parking is available.
- Different trails are open to hiking, biking and horseback riding. Dogs are not allowed on the trails or in cars parked at Soapstone.
- For directions, a map and summary of the trails, visit http://www.fcgov.com/naturalareas/finder/soapstone
Soapstone opened in March for the 2010 season. We went late in the day, so we mainly hiked the Towhee Loop. However, we did connect to the Canyon Trail for a bit at the top, which even inspired us to jog. It looks like it’s going to be a nice weekend, so I say there is no time like the present to hit the trails. Where do you like to hike? Have you been to Soapstone? Share your experiences here. Also if you have any questions, I will try to find the answers.
Recently on routine trips to Target to buy groceries or laundry detergent, I have been easily distracted by the giant signs and bright displays in the store’s back corner. I know that there is something over there way more exciting than my basic home necessities. As I wander further towards the back, I finally get a glimpse of what I knew was coming up ahead. School supplies! Yes, it is back to school time. As I perused the section, I noticed a young girl running down the aisle with the biggest smile on her face, arms clutched around her new prize- a neon pink Hannah Montana backpack. I am sure I once exhibited the same elated behavior: for me it was a plastic Wonder Woman lunch box. In fact, it seems like children now are just as excited as past generations about the first day of school. Last Sunday I was up half the night on a visit to my parents’ house, watching my little niece strategically plan out which new outfit to wear each day for the whole first week of classes, and trying to calm her down as she claimed, “I just can’t sleep, I’m too excited!” I wonder how many late hours have been spent over the years as kids lay awake, thinking about that first day of school.
I have to admit, though, that Hannah Montana backpack was way cooler (and likely way more pricey) than my Wonder Woman lunch box. It had near twenty pockets in it, with special compartments for water bottles and cell phones. It was difficult to think of what I had when I was a kid that was so complex. Just seeing freshly sharpened pencils was pretty thrilling, much less an entire box to store them in. I would have probably gone completely wild if someone told me I could buy markers that smelled like fruit, or better yet a calculator that could do most of my math problems for me!
As exhilarating as these things are, it would be unfair to say that these gadgets and tools are the most essential part of the school season. After all, their trendiness does not seem to detract students from being completely energetic and engaged in the experience of education both in and out of class. As if there was not enough to do (with new homework assignments now piling up), there are sports or dance practices, and endless clubs to sign up for.
If anyone is looking for a break from hanging out on campus, Fort Collins is full of fun and interesting events that provide continual learning long after the last bell rings. The Poudre River Public Library District hosts International Night, where each month you can learn the ins and outs of countries around the world. There is also a series on health and nutrition that may help your family stay healthy through the busy and sometimes stressful school season. I love that these opportunities are not limited to children or adults; instead there is something for everyone to learn. And in case your little ones aren’t quite ready for that Hannah Montana backpack, young children’s activities, like story time, pick back up in September. The Poudre River Public Library District has a great Calendar, so check it out if you want more details on their events.
Looking for more ways to entertain your brain? Here are other activities that will get you going:
With so many educational opportunities for all ages, it is no surprise that back to school excitement goes beyond just new backpacks. Sure we all love the latest stuff, but there is so much more to the school season. Though we may be pretty busy right now, we always seem to find time to continually grow in our education and in our communities. With so many new things in Fort Collins to experience, there is no end to how much you can learn.
“The boy lay with his eyes wide open. He saw before him a long stream of people, a great dark multitude, that moved in one direction; then they came to the dark edge of the world and went over. He saw them passing on before him, and there was nothing that could stop them. He thought of how that stream had rolled on through all the long ages of the past–how the old Greeks and Romans had gone over; the countless millions of China and India, they were going over now. Since he had come to bed, how many had gone! “
excerpt from The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner
The insightful comments in response to my last post have kept me thinking about humans interacting with and within the landscape. If there’s one book that has most influenced me it’s The Story of an African Farm, written by Ralph Iron, Olive Schreiner’s pseudonym. I read the book as a young child and it has been a touchstone throughout my life, including the source of my daughter’s name! As a South African, Victorian, and woman, Schreiner wrote to define her sense of place literally and culturally within an unforgiving landscape. She wrote against the confines of the hypocritical social expectations for women of her times and she paid intense attention to the harsh beauty of the semi-arid landscape she and her characters inhabited–a landscape that humans had wrestled with for eons. The political, social, and environmental struggles of her times are echoed in the challenges of the physical geography that Schreiner loved so deeply. Schreiner writes about a country fraught with the conditions of colonization–expansion and exploitation–in her version of an ” African Western.”
Several archaeological sites are a part of Soapstone Prairie. The Lindenmeier site was excavated by the Smithsonian Institute in the 1930s when artifacts from the Folsom culture (along with the unique fluted point called the Folsom Point) were uncovered. CSU archaeology professor Jason LaBelle says that the site contained “the best and earliest decorated beads in North America.” These beads are considered some of the earliest examples of objects decorated by humans in North America–very early signs of art making. Northern Coloradoans can claim to have been making art for the longest time in North America! You can learn more of this layered history from the Fort Collins Museum’s Soapstone Prairie Oral History Project–where collected stories illuminate the tale.
As of June 6, 2009, Soapstone Prairie and Red Mountain Open Space is open to the public and the adjoining areas are a magnificent place to contemplate the expansive time of human aspiration in our area. The space is also a Laramie Mountains to Plains conservation effort, where a corridor of protected lands links plains to the mountains. Fort Collins and Larimer County dedicated open space sales taxes, while Great Outdoors Colorado, The Nature Conservancy, Legacy Land Trust and private landowners provided funding to make preservation and access possible. The area is also habitat for numerous threatened plants and wildlife species, including pronghorn, elk, swift fox, burrowing owls, and golden eagles. Red Mountain provides 8 miles of trails for hikers, bikers and equestrians which connect to another 35+ miles of trail on the adjacent Soapstone Prairie Natural Area. Hours are dawn to dusk, March through November. To protect the fragile wildlife, dogs are not allowed (not even in cars). The cultural heritage at Soapstone Prairie is of world importance, especially since excavations provided broader understanding of the ancient lives of PaleoIndians who up until then weren’t considered very complex. To respect and preserve that heritage, all visitors must stay on designated paths at all times.
What an amazing cultural treasures and resources right in our “neighborhood!” I hope visits to Soapstone Prairie will help instill my children with the same sense of time and respect for humanity that Olive Schreiner wrote about. I’ve heard that there’s some possibility that Soapstone Prairie could be designated a World Heritage site in their lifetime–as they make their journey to the edge of their world!
Soapstone Prairie is 25 miles north of Fort Collins. From Fort Collins, take Hwy 1/Terry Lake Road to County Road 15 north (towards Waverly). From CR 15, turn north onto Rawhide Flats Road and continue north to the entrance station. When travelling on gravel roads, observing the speed limit will prevent dust!
Everything is connected!
Thank you for the great Karoo photo Jomilo75
Look at the photo on the left. It is a photo of a mural from the wall of the Guinness factory in Dublin, Ireland. The picture is particularly meaningful when we consider what it means to be ‘at home’ and to find ‘a home’ as we consider our multiple diverse stories in a community.
Last week, we previewed a sample of the Finding Home series and we hope you had an opportunity to enjoy the art on display last Friday on the Gallery Walk (one of my colleagues exhibited some of his work which we are all very proud of!), the Fort Collins Museum’s presentation of “The Move to Fort Collins: Local History Series of Immigration” in collaboration with OpenStage Theatre, and of course, the inaugural open house of the Museo de las Tres Colonias on Saturday!
As we move through April, the Traveling Heritage Quilt Project continues in our community as does the season of Anon(ymous) at the OpenStage Theatre & Company. On Wednesday, April 8th, Science Café will meet to discuss differences in migration patterns among Latin Americans. If you have not attended the Science Café before, it is an international community of scientists and interested citizens who meet monthly for informal discussions of lively and interesting issues in contemporary science. They host top-notch local and internationally recognized scientists, from academia and industry, in a quest to transform scientific discourse into “polite conversation.” This is no mean feat!
This week, the Science Café will be held at the Stonehouse Grille and the evening begins informally at 5:30 with a chance to order some refreshments and meet other participants. The lecture by Dr. Fernando Riosmena, an Assistant Professor of Geography and Faculty Associate at the Population Program in the Institute of Behavioral Science at UC-Boulder will begin at 6pm, followed by group discussion, and of course, a lively Q&A session! Participation is free of charge and the Café concludes at 7pm. Wednesday’s lecture will specifically explore the different reasons Latin Americans come to the US as well as the challenges they face on arrival. Dr. Riosmena’s research examines the relationship between migration and social mobility, well-being and development in both Latin American societies and immigrant communities of same in the US. As we have discussed in earlier blogs, these issues of social mobility, well-being and development depend heavily on the creative community resources present for immigrant populations as they adjust to life in a new ‘home’.
Our ‘old home’ continues to be celebrated in multiple ways as well over the next week, with the Museo continuing its open house this weekend and on Monday April 13, Poudre Valley Regional Library District will present its panel discussion entitled “Immigration in Colorado: The Historical Diversity in Colorado from it’s Earliest Beginnings”. This discussion on the nature of immigrants, how immigration has impacted Colorado from its earliest settlement and how things are different today will feature a range of voices including professors, lawyers, historians and members of the immigrant community. The event will be start at 6:30pm and will run until 9pm at the Elks Club at 140 East Oak Street in Fort Collins. It will be moderated by Dr. Paul Alexander, Director of the Institute for the Common Good at Regis University with English/Spanish interpretation provided by Irene Romsa. We look forward to learning how our collective past can influence our collective present and future as community members!
As always, you can find out the details for any of these events on our Finding Home Series Calendar. We look forward to seeing you this week at our discussions of new and old homes, as well as new and old communities!
With thanks to johndecember for his wonderful image!
Wherever you go, there you are!
Last week when I interviewed Tom Borrup and he discussed the impact of globalization as well as the ways in which all communities have often untapped and obscured pockets of creativity, I was reminded of the ways in which my own community manages to surprise me on a weekly, if not daily, basis.
Recently I read a research brief by Maria Rosario Jackson on the impacts on arts on communities. Sometimes we think that the creativity of a community lives in artist neighborhoods, amateur arts practices and companies, even audience participation in downtown venues and events; but in fact, creativity lives and runs through not only these events but some more ‘mundane’ places and practices as well. For both Tom Borrup and Maria Rosario Jackson, these pockets of everyday cultural creativity are reservoirs for the creative spirit and presence of multicultural diversity in ‘our homes’. They can be festivals, gatherings, community celebrations, informal but recurrent gatherings in parks and community centers, church based artistic activities — anything that maintains and invents group traditions. As Maria Rosario Jackson puts it, these are ” often important aspects of communities that go overlooked and are missed only when they are gone.”
These simpler forms of community arts and creativity provide important grounding devices for newcomers as well — they communicate home, help build social capital and individual as well as collective efficacy in terms of making a home for one’s family. They also socialize newcomers into dimensions of work and the working life of the community, mitigate crime and improve public safety. I remember living in Japan and even in the early hours of the morning, there were always lights on in houses, people out in the streets talking and walking. You were never alone. Someone was always watching for you. You were always safe.
When we first moved to Fort Collins, we lived in Colorado State University Village where many international families make their homes. The same sense of community prevails there also. Residents attend multicultural events, celebrating all their diverse cultures; children learn new games and ways of working with diverse others and languages; residents share belongings, food, toys, children run around all day between the buildings, in and out of homes, gardens and communal spaces. Everyone shares in the responsibility of the community.
This weekend I went to the International Children’s Carnival and as always, I am amazed at the diversity of people present. Sometimes when I attend these events, I can barely believe that this is the Fort Collins in which I live. The rich tapestry of peoples, languages and performances that surrounds me at these events ground myself and my family in what we consider ‘our world home’ and remind us of the often unseen gems of our community. Over the course of April, we encourage you to take some detours in your everyday life and walk some less familiar paths, sharing in some diverse celebrations of art, crafts, narrative, architecture and performance. Just this week alone, the Traveling Heritage Quilt Project presences itself in our community, there is our usual First Friday Gallery Walk on the 3rd, the Fort Collins Museum and Open Stage Theatre present “The Move to Fort Collins – Local History Stories of Immigration” and we celebrate the first open house of the Museo de las Tres Colonias this Saturday. Finally, OpenStage Theatre & Company begins their season of Anon(ymous) which will run over the course of this month.
Remember…Wherever you go, there you are!