The Castle Rock Historical Society and Museum have housed in a structure that by any account is its prime artifact. The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad had just been built between Denver and Old Colorado City in 1871. It was the first narrow-gauge line in the United States and was built by, General William Jackson Palmer. The Town of Castle Rock was designated the county seat for the newly realigned Douglas County in 1874. By 1875 a trim small depot was erected on the third street in the bustling new village of Castle Rock. It was constructed of Rhyolite building stone native to the area around Castle Rock and designed in the style of the period with wide eaves supported by drop-pendant brackets. The stonework was finely detailed on corners and building edges and around sills and lintels.
The Depot was moved from trackside to its present location in 1970 and was carefully restored by the Castle Rock Historical Society in 1996 for use as a local history museum. The building still retains the original interior features such as the old ticket window and baggage area with 145 years of graffiti on its walls. The Denver and Rio Grande Depot was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and the Castle Rock Register of Local Landmarks in 1994. The Castle Rock Historical Society and Museum were formed in 1991 by a group of concerned citizens. The group wanted to highlight the wonderful history of Castle Rock and work to preserve the historic buildings which form the heart of downtown Castle Rock. The society organized activities such as house tours in the historic Craig and Gould neighborhood, bus tours, and significant speakers. After a degree of paperwork, the society obtained its non-profit status with the IRS.
In 1996 the opportunity to fulfill a dream became a reality. The society was able to purchase the old Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Depot and create a museum for Castle Rock and the neighboring area. Through a Colorado State Historical Fund grant and generous gifts from businesses and the Town of Castle Rock the society restored the building and opened the museum in October 1997. Society continues to operate the museum and expand its activities. The society remains dedicated to the history and preservation of Castle Rock. The Society is especially indebted to Starr and Lionel Oberlin who guided the society and the museum from its early days. Their drive and vision made both a reality.
Through a series of permanent and changing exhibits, Castle Rock Historical Society and Museum highlight Castle Rock’s history, culture, and people. Past and present exhibits include Rhyolite, Continental Divide Raceway, Patriotic Quilts, and History of Firefighting in Castle Rock. Rhyolite is a permanent exhibit that features fascinating information about the rock used to build the depot, quarried in Castle Rock from 1872-to 1906. While Continental Divide Raceway is a legendary race track that ran for almost 3 miles between Denver and Colorado Springs. It closed in 1983, but its memory lives on in this permanent display. There’s also Patriotic Quilts which past display showcased the Busy Fingers Quilting Bee, a group of crafters who create special quilts for veterans and their families. Last is the History of Firefighting in Castle Rock. This popular exhibit featured documents, photographs, and artifacts from the Castle Rock Fire Department. Spend an hour or two exploring this family-friendly museum, and learn the hidden history of Castle Rock.
Furthermore, annual and special occasion events take place throughout the year. The calendar is updated regularly to reflect changes. Native Americans in Colorado, for example, is a monthly presentation with alternating presenters discussing the contributions of Native Americans to Colorado’s history and landscape. Walking Tours which is a free, 45-minute summer walking tour of downtown Castle Rock, led by an experienced docent. Annual Trolley Tour, which is the museum’s annual trolley tour highlights buildings, parks, and places of historical significance around Castle Rock, and finally, the Cemetery Tours which happen each October where cemeteries in Sedalia and Castle Rock invite guests on a historical walking tour led by museum staff.
Admission to Castle Rock Historical Society and Museum is free, though donations are welcome. The museum is open on Wednesdays to Fridays, from 12:00-5:00, and on Saturdays from 11:00-4:00.
Next – Philip S. Miller Park