lyons: Rich in history and culture
Where else can you go to see class pictures from Lyons High School dating back to 1914, a detailed exhibit about the railroad’s effects on settling the town, Edward S. Lyon’s personal journals and legal documents, and original copies of the Lyons Recorder which was first published in 1900? June marks the 40th Anniversary of the Lyons’ Redstone Museum established in our town’s original schoolhouse. Since the Lyons Community Foundation’s inception in 2006, historical preservation has been included in the many diverse programs that are supported annually. Funds from LCF, totaling more than $26,000 over the last decade, have allowed for the development of unique exhibits as well as important preservation and restoration work.
Lyons, unlike many Colorado towns with exploding growth, is holding on to its rich heritage by design. Our small town embraces our past and holds dear its character and tradition. We welcome visitors seeking a unique experience and feature a picturesque downtown made up of historical buildings with signature sandstone façades. By design, there are no chain stores or retailers, rather an eclectic mix of shops, galleries and eateries. Visitors feel they have arrived in a place that is set back in a simpler time.
Heritage Tourism, which the national Trust for Historic Preservation defines as “traveling to experience the places, artifacts and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past” is a popular tourist activity and brings many visitors to Lyons. The museum, open daily in the summer (except Sundays) is free to the public, which allows for wide access to visitors and tourists, but also offers a key resource for local residents and school children. In partnership with Lyons Elementary School, the museum hosts area kids on a monthly basis to explore the rich cultural and scientific resources as part of their experience-based curriculum.
The museum saw more 2347 guests last year. Destination visitors enjoy the unique collections and stories about early pioneers, the prominence of the quarries in town development, an opportunity to research family genealogy and the increasing availability of interactive exhibits. Through the support of LCF and other grants, the museum is putting forth a concerted effort to modernize collections and implement best practices in the important preservation of its vast resources.
The population of Lyons has changed considerably over the years, especially since the 2013 flood. As longtime residents disappear, the museum has put an emphasis on making the stories of the town’s origins in the quarries, railroads and as a major tourist destination available for the long term. There is also the force of LaVern Johnson, the town’s official matriarch who has championed causes ranging from keeping the school in Lyons, fighting the coffin top dam and other harmful development, as well as keeping square dancing and historical preservation a priority.
Grants from the LCF, the Town of Lyons, the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SFCD) and others have provided a means for the museum to offer new programming each year. This summer, there is an exhibit that features “Forty Years/Forty Artifacts” showcasing the breadth of the museum’s collections. Staff is working on a walking tour of the Lyons Historic District that will have an interactive/digital element. There are planned talks, walking tours, a kids summer history camp, and of course many activities around Lyons Annual Good Old Days celebration on Saturday, June 29th. For information on these events, go to townoflyons.com, lyonsredstonemuseum.com or follow the Redstone Museum on Facebook and Instagram.
Lyons Community foundation grants have also funded the Sandstone Summer Concert Series, which has grown in popularity since its inception. The free concerts held Thursday evenings for 10 weeks starting in June, feature a variety of local musicians. Lyons is rich in musical tradition, as the home of the world -class Planet Bluegrass festivals as well as becoming an enclave for many artists. This homegrown resource allows for the performances of talented musicians that grace our town and the Raul Vasquez stage. Each Thursday at 6:30pm throughout the summer, residents and visitors can enjoy music, food and a gathering of community.
The Lyons Community Foundation is a community based non-profit with a mission to “connect people who care with causes that matter”. Annual funds support the diverse interests of the residents of the greater Lyons area. Projects feature such a wide range of programming that includes public art installations, area ecology and the food pantry.
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Lyons Community Foundation