The walking tour will highlight the mining history of Oak Creek
This Saturday, June 11, Friends of the Library will welcome Routt County historian and author, Paul Bonnifield, to share his knowledge of Oak Creek’s rich mining heritage as part of the library’s programming.
Bonnifield said the event is a chance to highlight the history of monuments that people drive by every day with no idea what they are seeing or the role the monument has played in Routt County history.
The walking tour will begin at 9 a.m. at the Oak Creek Library at 17 Main Street, downtown. Participants will then travel to Colorado Highway 131 and Routt County Road 27 before traveling to where the Moffat Company mine was located. Bonnifield said he got permission from the town of Oak Creek, just this once, to do the short walk to where the mine was.
“We’ll meet at the library and have a quick chat,” Bonnifield said. “Then we will descend and begin the hike. We’ll talk about the story and stuff as we go along rather than trying to stand in one place and tell the story – then go over there and see what you’ve already heard talk.
“I was talking to some people the other day, and they didn’t know where the Moffat mine was or anything about it, even though they passed it every day, or every other day when they were going to Steamboat,” Bonnifield added. “So for people who drive around and get out and actually see where they’re driving, it’s going to be quite an experience for them.”
Attendees will also have the opportunity to learn about other mines in Oak Creek from Bonnifield who wrote the book “Coal: The Cream of Northwestern Colorado”, alongside his wife Ellen Bonnifield.
“He actually wrote a book about coal mining in South Routt,” said South Routt Library District Board Member Janet Panabaker, delighted to see him speak. “Not only do we have our first history program…but it’s a local author.”
Panabaker said the ideas behind free library programs often come from his interaction with the community.
“Most of the time these programs start with a conversation I have with someone,” Panabaker said. “And I think I would like to be on a program about that, and then we try to put it together.”
The Oak Creek Library normally hosts one program per month, and most of the time it is during the first two weeks of the month. Last month the event covered bike tune-ups and in July Opera Steamboat will host a program.
Panabaker said this month’s mining event will be the first story-based topic since the program series began a year ago.
“We are all a product of our past,” Bonnifield said. “When we lose touch with our past, we lose touch with who we are – we’re just out there in the middle of nowhere… When we know where we came from, we get a sense of the where we are going.”
Bonnifield hopes Saturday’s walking tour will educate people about places that have a place in Routt County’s history, and also educate those who come to the tour about their own role in shaping the future.
“If we know this place, we’ll understand all of this better, and it will make a little more sense to us,” Bonnifield said. “History isn’t just a story – it’s a piece of who we are.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.