Delta County was created by the Colorado legislature on February 11, 1883. The county was named for the City of Delta, which gets its moniker for its location on the delta of the Uncompahgre River. Delta County's story is about the pioneers of agriculture, mining, land and water development. More than 100 years ago the Delta County area was the homeland of the Ute Indian people. Today, visitors can learn about the cultural traditions of western Colorado by visiting Delta County.
The town of Delta, strategically located at the confluence of the Uncompahgre and Gunnison Rivers, was originally set up as a trading post for Utes and the early day settlers. Fort Uncompahgre was originally built in 1828 and was recreated in 1989. The modern day fort is a reconstruction of the original trading post that was used by traders, trappers and Native Americans. Step back in time at this history museum located at the entrance to the 265-acre Confluence Park, where visitors are led through the trading post by interpreters decked out in period clothing.
Delta's 200-year old Ute Council Tree is an historic cottonwood that was designated a Colorado Landmark and is dedicated in memory of the Ute tribe's Chief Ouray and his wife, Chipeta. Interestingly, Chipeta is said to be the only Indian woman ever permitted to sit in council meetings, which were held at this site.
Also in Delta, visit the Delta County Historical Museum, which is housed in an old fire house. Here, you can see many items of interest from Delta's pioneer days, such as house wares, toys, clothing and early farming and ranch utensils. Fossil, dinosaur bones and a world-class butterfly exhibit with specimens from all over the world are on display here. The museum also has on display a robe from the 1800s that was worn by the King of Siam. Additionally, there is an eight-foot tall clock that used to be in the French palace of Louis the 14th. It is said to be one of only three clocks he owned. The museum also displays a bridle crafted by the western legend Tom Horn. Many people stop in to hear the story of the McCarty Gang and the hero William Ray Simpson, a local hardware store owner who brought the gang down.
In Cedaredge, stop by Pioneer Town, to get a taste of frontier life during the past century. The museum's signature wooden silos are the last remaining structures of the Bar I Ranch, a cattle ranch that was established in the early 1880s. Walk along the wooden sidewalks of Main Street to visit the early-day businesses like a general store, print shop, saloon, bank, barbershop (which doubled as a dental office) and the jail house. The fossilized jawbone of a rare Mosasaur, a marine reptile, is also housed at the museum.
The Hotchkiss-Crawford Museum (970.872.3780) in Hotchkiss offer ample history experiences. Among the items on display are grinding stones, a lard press, post card photos from 1910, a butter churn, stamps used for fruit boxes and photos of Crawford from bygone days. Appointments can be arranged by calling the museum.
In Paonia the historic Bowie Schoolhouse has been moved to its current location from the Bowie mining camp. Here, visitors may see textbooks the students used, trophies they won and carvings on the desks. The museum is open through Labor Day 1-4 p.m.
Many of the buildings in Delta are on the local and state historic registers. The Fairlamb House Bed and Breakfast was built in 1906 and was the first house in the area built by workers on an eight-hour work day. The Victorian house is constructed of Delta Brick from the Delta Brick and Tile Company. The historic Westways Court Motel was built in 1946 and still boasts its signature iconic neon sign. Many of the buildings in Eckert are built using local volcanic rock. The Eckert Presbyterian Church is nearly 100 years old and also boasts some fine examples of this unique rockwork. The historic Eckert Creamery, now a site for retail space, sold butter to the public until the 1980s. The Surface Creek Winery and Gallery doubles as an Oddfellows Hall on Sundays and sells wine and art the rest of the week. The Bross Hotel in Paonia is more than 100 years old and has been used as a lodging establishment throughout its history. It is now Bed and Breakfast. The Lovett House in Cedaredge was the original post office for the community and now serves as a delightful B&B. While in Cedaredge stop into the AppleShed Art Complex, once an apple packing shed, it is now used as retail space selling art, furniture, gifts and lattes.
Delta County events and celebrations pay homage to the region's history and heritage. In May the Hotchkiss Sheep Camp Stock Dog Trials demonstrate the area's sheep ranching tradition. In June take in the Crawford Pioneer Days Celebration. This tribute to Crawford's western heritage includes a huge parade, elk calling contests, a melodrama, entertainment and local arts and crafts. The Western Slope Little Britches Rodeo, held every July in Cedaredge, is the longest continuous Little Britches rodeo in the country. The Council Tree Pow Wow & Cultural Festival, is held in Delta's Confluence Park every September. The festival is a three-day swirl of Indian regalia, ancient drum beats and authentic tribal dances.