Summer at the museum | News

Summer at the museum |  News

A pair of August events are looming large on the Telluride Historical Museum’s summer calendar, capping a season of activity at the top end of North Fir Street.

First up, on Aug. 5, is the Tour du Tommyknocker, a nod to the tommyknockers of mining folklore, the mythical underground creature that were part thieving tricksters, part kindly ghosts whose knocking indicated if a mine tunnel was safe.

The event begins at 5 pm at the museum with a quick refreshment.

Eventgoers, who are encouraging to wear a tommyknocker-themed costume, then take to their bicycles to ride around town, enjoy fun challenges, playing games and chatting about local history. The evening finishes at the Telluride Brewing Company in Lawson Hill.

Tickets are $25 and all proceeds go towards supporting the work of the museum.

“It’s a silly and fun event — definitely in the vein of keeping Telluride weird,” said the museum’s director of public engagement, Mary Higgins.

Then, on Aug. 25, is the Telluride Dinner Party, the museum’s annual fundraiser formerly known as Feasting on History. The event begins at 5 pm with a cocktail hour and opportunity to view the museum’s annual exhibit, The Long Run: 50 Years of the Telluride Ski Area.

After that, attendees move to a nearby private home for dinner and talks by speakers versed in the history of the Telluride Ski Resort, which, as the exhibit title suggests, celebrates its 50th anniversary in December.

While the dinner is exclusively for museum members and donors, Higgins points out that the ability to attend the event might provide timely motivation for those interested in the museum and its work to sign up or donate.

“It’s going to be a great night,” she said. “I hope people see the dinner as a reason to become a member or donor.”

As Higgins and her colleagues begin preparations for these upcoming events, they are also wrapping up the Telluride Dog Museum, which has run for the past two weeks.

“We know that telluride people love their dogs, but when they visit the museum, they can’t bring their dogs in,” Higgins said. “The idea was to create something that was dog friendly and outdoors.”

In addition to setting up an agility course and a canine-centric iteration of the popular mining sluice, museum staff pulled photos of dogs from their trove of historical images, including some dating back to the mining era.

They then organized them into subject-specific collections and complemented each with a “smelling station” — a basket with related artifacts or realia — so that dogs could use their powerful sense of smell and have something fun to enjoy alongside their history-minded humans.

“We have photos from Telluride’s early days of mules and the dogs that were herding them,” Higgins said of one of the collections. “So, we put horseshoes in a basket at the base of the exhibit to connect with the photos. The dogs really liked that one.”

One of the quirkier collections, she noted, dates back to the setting up of a “dog court” in the early 1970s.

“There were so many dogs running loose then and they were leaving excrement on the street and causing trouble,” she said. “Someone rounded the dogs up and made a dog court, complete with a judge with a gavel. The photos are hilarious.”

Higgins added that the museum also partnered with Telluride Avalanche Dogs, working with Kim Richard on highlighting the role that these specially trained pups play working with Telluride Ski Patrol on the mountain and in the backcountry.

“A lot of our visitors from out of town were very curious about the avalanche dogs,” Higgins said. “It was something they didn’t know about until they saw the exhibit.”

While the Telluride Dog Museum will likely finish today or tomorrow, depending on the weather, other summer programs are ongoing, Higgins noted.

In addition to The Long Run: 50 Years of the Telluride Ski Area, which opened in June and runs until next April, there are the twice-weekly Historic Walking Tours, the Lone Tree Cemetery Tours, which are monthly through August and weekly in September and October, and the well-attended Hike into History series.

“The next Hike into History that we have, coming up at the end of August, is a hike in Ophir with Helitrax’s snow safety director and guide, Matt Steen,” said Higgins. “He’s going to be talking about the history and geology of the Ophir area. It’s going to be a fascinating hike.”

Sounds like a fun month ahead.

For more on the museum’s programs and events, including tickets, membership and to donate, visit


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