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Americana at its Best: Cowboy-Style at Aztec Museum

5/26/2022

The Aztec Museum complex houses one of the finest collections of authentic western Americana in the country. Tour a dozen structures in the “Village,” among them a doctor’s office, general store, black smith and foundry, Aztec’s first jailhouse, and the old Cedar Hill Church. The Museum also offers a summer concert series. Donna K. Hewett. This story is sponsored by ServiceMaster Restore and Distil Beer Wine Spirits

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The past is never the past at the Aztec Museum in Pioneer Village, where you can catch sight of what life was like in the early 20th century of the true west. You're watching the Local News Network, brought to you by ServiceMaster Restore and Distil Beer Wine Spirits. I'm Wendy Graham-Settle. The village behind the Aztec Museum contains some of the actual buildings from the area, including a pioneer cabin built in 1880, the old Cedar Hill Church, and Aztecs first jailhouse, constructed in 1912.

We're in the old Aztec original jail that was moved down here from up off of Main Street up here. Actually, it was on Church Street, I think, at one time. Made out of two-by-sixes just laid on top of each other and nailed together. You wouldn't have want to have been here at any time, I don't think. It would not have been a pleasant place. There was a bed, there was a wood stove in here, which you had to, if you were a prisoner, you would've had to have fed the stove all night long to keep warm. But I don't know of anybody whoever broke out of this jail, as such.

The original log cabin gives visitors a closer look at the harsher realities of the pioneer home life.

So this is the Hamlet cabin and what's really unique about this is that this is the actual 1880 cabin that has been moved to this site. And again, this gives you this great idea of what it was like to move out here as homesteaders in the 1880s. You have dirt floors, you have the one bed here. You have a whole family, generations of families, living inside this cabin. And this is the real thing, this was a cabin, I believe it was moved from area between Farmington and Bloomfield and everything in here is authentic, and so this is one of the best ways for both adults and kids to see what life would've been like back then and what conditions were like and just how sturdy and hearty and what grit these early homesteaders had to survive in this climate.

The Hamlet cabin is also known as the site of a Christmas Eve gunfight involving the infamous Stockton Gang. Quaint structures, such as the Aztec Citizens Bank and the post office were built using furnishings from the original buildings. The museum's newest acquisition is a 1927 Model TT truck used to haul apples to the railway depot. How rare is it?

I'm really not an expert on, you know, the numbers or anything, but I don't think there's another one in San Juan county like this. It runs, we've had it in parades and we've got a nice building along with the donation from Mrs. Root. So we'd have a place to store it and keep it safe, keep it out of the sun and the elements. So we're very grateful for her gift in memory of her husband.

Inside the museum is a large, beautifully preserved collection of locally owned items gathered during the past 50 years, curated by volunteers who value preserving the community's diverse history. Aztec Museum recently kicked off its summer concert series with outdoor performances in the village the second Friday of each month.

I'm going to put a plug in for your music because the music ventures out here are fabulous. I went to all of them last summer. I can't come to one tonight but I'm going to come to all the rest of them. Well worth it.

The Aztec Museum located at 125 North Main Avenue is looking for volunteers. For more information, go to aztecmuseum.org. Thanks for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I'm Wendy Graham-Settle.

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