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History Center's 'Tunnel Tales' plays off Colorado City's wild-time legends July 19

Dressed to resemble Laura Bell McDaniel, professional reenactor Roberta Hardy stands beside the gravestone of the famous Colorado City madam while telling her story in the first person as part of the Fairview Cemetery Crawl last September. The event is an annual fundraiser for the Old Colorado City Historical Society. A new fundraiser, playing off Colorado City's wild-times history, will be "Tunnel Tales" July 19.
Westside Pioneer file photo
       With “Tunnel Tales,” the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) is seeking to shed light on a decades-old mystery - where were those underground routes that men once used to secretly access the notoriously "shady" side of the avenue?
       Scheduled Sunday, July 19 from 1 to 3 p.m., the event will be a self-guided walking tour featuring five likely tunnel locations, according to OCCHS board member Sharon Swint.
       A fundraiser for the volunteer organization, ticket prices are $25, which also includes a booklet with maps and historic information and special offers from local merchants. An OCCHS press release states that one post-tour stop will present (in keeping with the spirit of Tunnel Tales) “dance-hall girls.”
       The event inspiration was a program this spring at the OCCHS' volunteer-run History Center by Salida author Tracy Beach, in which she described various tunnels that had been dug in towns around the state and suggested a few possible places that may have existed in Colorado City in the late 1800s or early 1900s.
       “When Tracy Beach presented her program and book in the spring, it was obvious that there was a shortage of info on OCC tunnels, so some of us decided that this was an opportunity to dig out some local history, educate the public and raise some money for OCCHS,” Swint said. “For two to three months, Leo Knudson [also an OCCHS volunteer] and I have been crawling through basements and businesses and searching city directories and old newspaper articles. What we have come up with is going to be presented during Tunnel Tales.”
       Their efforts narrowed the potential locations down to the five on the tour, but Swint explained that absolute certainty has been difficult to achieve. The tour booklet “clearly states that much of what we know is anecdotal,” she pointed out, adding that “on the map in the booklet we have marked what we know for sure with pictures, etc. and what is a possible tunnel area.”
       At each stop, “professional reenactors will present either the story of the former owner of the location or information on the building itself,” the OCCHS press release states. “In some cases it will be both.”
       Ticket-holders will be given arm bands for identification that day.
       Advance tickets are available at the History Center (open Tuesday to Saturday) at 1 S. 24th St. For more information, call, 636-1225.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 7/5/15; Community: Old Colorado City History Center)

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