The Animas Museum currently houses 55 cassette tapes of audio interviews. Our plan is to get these cassette tapes digitized for the sake of preservation and accessibility. The tapes are invaluable primary source recordings covering many aspects of local history.
Working together with Casey Carroll and Steve Rich from the San Juan County Historical Society & Museum in Silverton, we have 37 of our cassette tapes digitized. This activity started in July of 2019 as part of a Colorado-Wyoming Association of Museums grant (CWAM).
Ten of the tapes are of Richard Wetherill Jr., whose name is practically synonymous with that of Mesa Verde. These tapes cover a variety of topics ranging from prehistoric ruins to living in a culturally diverse area among Puebloans, Navajos, Hispanics, and Anglos.
There are also tapes of Native American weaving and culture by Joe Ben Wheat. Several tapes preserve the history of archaeology in the southwest with interviews of Zeke Flora, Dr. Robert H. Lister, Dr. Art Rohn, and Jack Smith; names no aspiring archaeologist attending FLC can go without hearing.
One tape covers sacred Native traditions with interviews from the Southern Ute Council, which is an invaluable asset to a culture that has until recently relied entirely on oral retellings.
Tapes also include prominent Durango residents like Dr. Duane Smith, Dr. Susan Riches, Lester J. (Bus) Gardenswartz, A. Lewis Soens, Robert Soens, Art Lancaster, Alva F. Lyons, Edith Rhodes, and Colorado State Representative Arthur Wyatt. These tapes cover a wide span of local history, including: life in Durango, the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, Durango Vanadium Plant, the King Coal Mine, and the development of other businesses in the area.