History of Florence Part Two

 The Florence Oil Fields are the second oldest in the United States and home to the first oil well west of the Mississippi River. Discovered in 1862, this oil well is still pumping today. Florence is located on a bluff-protected bend of the Arkansas River as it breaks out of the Rocky Mountains of Central Colorado on its way to the Mississippi River. The river’s unique position and history have produced many rare natural, physical, and cultural resources enjoyed by Florence.
 The oil, coal, fossils, and topography left behind by the Paleozoic seas have provided the natural resources for many cultures, from early Native American tribes, seeking wintering grounds and oil for medicinal and waterproofing, through the Spanish (1562), French (1682), Mexican (1821), and Texans (1836) settlers. In 1861, Colorado became a territory and later achieved statehood in 1876.
 The site that later became Florence, on the southern bank of the Arkansas River, occupied natural access routes North and South along the Front Range and East to West from the Mississippi. These routes were used by many like Zebulon Pike (1806), LeDuc (1851), gold seekers (1859), and later William Jackson Palmer with the railroads (1872).
 1894 saw the opening of the Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad which opened the flow of Cripple Creek gold into Florence’s nine processing mills. With the many refining and reduction mills, the town flourished until the turn of the century. At that point, ore from the gold mines decreased and fires took their toll on many of the local mills.
 WWI created a demand for oil and the Continental Oil Company closed sections of Florence to accommodate pipelines and equipment. Florence prospered until an explosion in 1925 leveled East Main Street. Florence further declined during the  Great Depression of 1929 and its farming suffered in the Dust Bowl of 1931.
 Since then, Florence has become a destination for travelers and antique collectors, an ideal location for small business owners, the Antique Capital of Colorado, and most importantly, the place 3,800 people call home. Citizens of Florence take pride in the rich history of the town and work hard to preserve the original splendor.
 The various antique dealers in original Victorian buildings on Main Street seem to bring back to life the Florence of the 1880s when the town was in its prime. Art galleries are filling in the spaces as artists find room for studios and workshops. The people of Florence can walk to restaurants, shops, and parks while taking in scenes from a town preserved in time!
 Welcome to Florence Pioneer Museum and Research Center
 Our mission is to collect, preserve and interpret the rich historical heritage of Florence Colorado, the surrounding mining towns and eastern Fremont County.
 Florence Pioneer Museum offers an ever-changing lineup of exhibits. Location: 100 E Front St., Florence, CO 81226
 Museum History
 Charles Price had a dream. He wanted preserve the history of Florence, Colorado. He was a member of the Pioneer Day  Board and was told they would sponsor if he would produce!
 He and Darrell Lindsey, another board member, set to work collecting money to the old Eagles Lodge building at Pikes Peak Ave. and Front St.
 A “100 for $15” Club was formed and the $1,500 needed to purchase the building was acquired. More members were needed to pay for the new roof, floor and paint so “Chopper ” (Mr. Price) kept collecting!
 Volunteers worked the summer of 1964 many long hours to prepare the main floor for opening day. Lindsey worked so hard he fell off the scaffold while paining the ceiling!
 Donations to the museum were catalogued and prepared for exhibit by Velma “Toni” Price.
Finally, the museum was ready.
 The Florence Pioneer Museum was dedicated on September 12, 1964. The museum contains donations of historical significance and pioneer relics of interest.
 In 1976, The State Centennial Commissions presented a check for $3,200 as a grant for an addition to the museum. Gifts, donations and money-making events raised the additional $3,700 needed to pay for the new room.
 Cinco de Mayo!
 May 5th, Friday, 1:00-6:00 pm come and check out our new bi-lingual texts for our displays. Olivia Johnson has provided Spanish texts for some of our displays. Gracias, Olivia! Sangria and light tapitas will be served after 4:00 pm.

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