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Women of the Gold Rush | Part 2

...continued from Part 1.

I’m not sure there are words I can put on paper to translate the feelings I had as I pulled into Frisco, Colorado last January. Elation mixed with the melancholy of relief. Like taking your first deep inhale after holding your breath. Like the long embrace of an old friend who needs no words to comfort you. These mountains are like that for me and driving while feeling these powerful feelings was not possible-so I pulled over.

Cried. Laughed. Talked with Wilder. And I took a picture.

As I said–this sequence was about to become habit.

My friends who had offered me a room in their home for three months,were not home yet so I parked and wandered around town by foot. The laundromat I would use was the same one I used many years ago and that made me smile. I felt like a local already. I wandered into a new cute bookshop that I could see myself sitting in, cuddled up in sunny corner designing my new line. The Frisco Historic Park & Museum was still right across the street as well. As a young ski instructor living in the mountains after college, I did visit the laundromat, the bars, the restaurants but this was not a place I had spent any time. Funny…I had just earned a degree in Art History…ya woulda thought…

The Frisco Historic Park has 12 buildings that each have their own history. The main museum is in the

schoolhouse and the others are mostly homes, each filled with the historical artifacts you would expect that help transport you into the people’s lives that built and loved them. I was immediately and totally engaged as I slowly combed over and devoured every detail in every home.

The Prestrud/Staley home had skiing artifacts-Peter Prestrud was the Norwegian immigrant who built the first ski jump in Colorado and went on to start local competitions. The Bailey house whose interior was lined with newpapers was much simpler. I stood there reading the yellowed print on the walls while people came and went around me.

The next place I visited was the jail. It was Frisco’s first and only jail and it featured four 7×10 foot jail cells and was built in 1881. The brothers who built it used square nail construction and recycled wagon wheels to hand-forge door and window hardware.

But what was in it was of the most interest to me….mining equipment! I recognized some things for what they were but it was only moments before I began to see jewelry.

Epiphanies are interesting things. One minute you don’t know something and the next you do. Lightning bolt…The Gold Rush! I knew I had found my inspiration and wondered why I didn’t see this sooner. Doh. I put my camera away and sat on the floor of the jail and began sketching jewelry ideas until my back reminded me I still had one last building to visit.

The last home was The Bailey House which I discovered had a new installation dedicated to women who contributed to Frisco’s history. Again, like a cosmic divination, I knew immediately that my new collection would not just be inspired by the gold rush era but by Women of the Gold Rush.

I cried, I talked to Wilder, I took more pictures.

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