You might be surprised how many good actors, writers, and musicians live and work in Clear Creek County and you’ll find them in unusual places. Bert Weaver has volunteered his time for thirteen melodramas. You’ll find him at work as the Clear Creek County Planner. Ed Rapp, former Clear Creek County Commissioner, has been in five plays. Bruce Bell created the Java Mountain Roasters in Idaho Springs and taught in the Rock House School. Carolyn Gingrich is a substitute postmaster.
So many more: a counselor from Denver, a cook for the Sheriff’s Office, a truck driver, a llama breeder, a junior high student, a recent graduate, all volunteers.
There is more history lurking in the audience. Joanne Sorenson, another former County Commissioner, sits with her husband Tom. Brenda Gorman, an honored guest, glances at a photo of her late husband Skipper that sits on top of the piano nearby. Larrice Sell, president of the MCVHS, introduces her to the audience and dedicates that night’s performance to Skipper for his long time support of their efforts.
Another couple sitting in the front row, is Buff Rutherford, a third generation Georgetown resident with his wife Mary Lou who came out as a teenager with her family from Chicago and met her cowboy. Her family stayed at the local boarding house at that time, the Hamill House, now a well-restored museum.
Royalty sits among the audience. Les and Arlie Clark are the crowned King and Queen of Clear Creek County’s 150 Year of Mining History. Les Clark, “It’s only spelled with one ‘s’,” he jokes, was born and raised in Idaho Springs. Les met his wife in Northern California when he was in the Forest Service. His wife, Arlie, (she did spell it for me) was born in Las Vegas. “I think I was the 59th baby born in the new city,” she proudly boosts. They returned a few years ago to Idaho Springs. Sitting next to them is their son, Dean Clark, who moved to Lakewood to be near his folks.
Larrice M. Sell wrote this year’s melodrama, “White Gold or We’re Going Down Hill Fast.” Before it starts, Linda Goymerac, hits the ivories on the upright piano and the sing-a-long begins getting everyone into a joyful mood. The light’s go down and the music from the Sound of Music, sets the scene. Throughout the melodrama patter, a couple of jibs at the nearby towns bring even more laughter. Lines forgotten only bring out the wild side of the actors who joke with the audience. The Inspector Dufus, master of disguise, was simply amazing as he held a sheet high and turned to the wall. The back of the sheet blended perfectly into the same patterned wallpaper and he did disappear.
The efforts of the dedicated people, who make up the Mill Creek Valley Historical Society, are not disappearing. They have restored the 100-year-old One Room School House in Dumont where they hold their annual melodramas.
In the late 1980s, they moved the Colburn Cabin onto the property as an additional piece of history. This cabin was Clear Creek County Commissioner, Joan Drury’s, great, great grandmother’s house in Lawson. The log cabin was built for Margaret Colburn between the houses of her two daughters. Colburn was somewhat of a folk doctor using herbs to help people get well. After I-70 came through, the log cabin was moved to Georgetown and now it’s back to take a place of honor next to the schoolhouse.
Next on their agenda is the restoration of Sarah Greene’s family roadhouse at the east entrance to Dumont. Just this April it was listed on the National Registry of Historic Buildings. Originally, there were two log cabins joined together. These roadhouses in the 1800s were always located out of town and by a well-traveled road. Sometime they were a full service stage-stop, offering food, rooms and drinks. Others were only bars with food, and maybe a pool table.
Ed Rapp wrapped up his feelings, “In broader terms, I’m involved in the Historical Society not because I’m a preservationist, but because I’m always a conservationist.” He explains, “I look back 7 generations and forward 7 generations and think about decisions and values so my future grandchildren will have resources to live a decent life.”
Think about helping these restoration efforts for your future grandchildren. Go and enjoy this next weekend’s performance. It’s more than a play; it’s a part of your community. Take a bow Mill Creek Valley Players. We're proud of you. Call for reservations: 303-567-4026. Tickets are also available at the door.
There are other roadhouses in Clear Creek County. Grumpy’s Roadhouse in Silver Plume was originally a garage. Inside there was a tall rectangle tabletop, over a car lift. When it began as a roadhouse, it was not only a bar, but also a meeting place to musicians of all types. Sometimes a local resident would bring a crock-pot of food to share with all who walked in the door that night. Now it is closed, and another part of history has past on. Kermit’s Roadhouse is open, operating a bar, foodservice and pool table. It still fits the definition of a roadhouse, right off I-70 and certainly not near any town.