Denver Story Trek – discovering Downtown Denver’s historical secrets

Originally Published July 1, 2009

Last Wednesday, I was invited to come along on Denver’s Story Trek. Having never heard of it before, I was interested and found it well worth the trip into Downtown Denver.

Started last year by Nobel-Erickson, the Denver area museums got together to help people learn about thehistory of Downtown Denver. As Denver as grown, many of it architectural and historical jewels have gotten a bit lost among the high rises and office buildings. Denver Story Trek helps people learn about them in a new way.
You can start your Denver Story Trek by heading to their interactive website –www.denverstorytrek.org   From there, you can choose to follow one of their featured treks, or choosing from their list of story sites, you can create your own trek. At each site, there is a signpost that marks it as a Denver Story Trek site, give you a phone number you can call, and tells you which story number to listen to. The stories include a scripted history of the site, as well as stories that have been recorded by those who have an historic connection to that site. Denver Story Trek is set up so that you can drive, walk or bike to each site and learn more about them. Currently, there are five museums on the trek that you can go into, as well as the governor’s mansion, five local parks and links along the Cherry Creek bike path.
Our group took the “Shedding the Frontier Rawness” tour, which started at the Molly Brown House Museum, and went to the Byers-Evans House Museum, Past Civic Center park, Cheeseman Park, the Governor’s mansion, Crawford Hill mansion, Stoiberhoff mansion, through the Denver Country Club neighborhood and circled back around to the Kirkland Museum.   Now as a teenager, I had worked in this neighborhood selling subscriptions to the Denver Post, but I didn’t know so many noteworthy historical sites were located so closely together. Taking the tour  – we did it by car – gave me a second look at the area and how nice it still is.
Now if you don’t have a cell phone, you can go to the website and download the MP3s for each site you wish to visit, and take them along on an MP3 player, playing them as you get to each site. You can also play them directly on the website at home to learn about the site before you take your trek.
If you sign into the site, you can use it to create your own trek, or leave comments about each site that you have visited. I signed in, just to see what I could do. Note, there is no prompt to check your email, but do so to activate your account. Making your own trek is easy. You choose “My Treks” from the list on the left, give it a name and description, and then by checking the boxes, you can choose which sites you’d like on your trek. Hit the “create” button, and your list is mapped as well as all the relevant sound bytes listed, just like on the premade treks. You can save them, make new ones, print your trek, even share the page on Facebook, Twitter and a myriad of other sites.
The site also has histories of people who were important to the forming and development of Denver, as well as other colorful characters that graced our city with their presence at one time or another.
Denver Story Trek is free, but they are offering a summer special in conjunction with the five museums on the list. For $52.80, two adults can get entry to all five of the museum. This is a reduced price ticket, and gives you the opportunity to see history from the inside as well as the outside.
Denver Story Trek currently has 16 historical sites listed and sign posted, with many more planned in the near future, as well as other tours planned for the future. More oral histories of the era are being added all the time, as well as famous and infamous people, so keep checking the site for new information.
I personally plan to take a day off sometime soon and tour all the sites, as well as go into all the museums and the governor’s mansion. So if you see me standing on a sidewalk somewhere with my IPod in my ear, you’ll know what I’m doing – and feel free to join me!
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