Four Mile Historic Park

Earlier this year, I was a chaperone for Medha's class on a field trip to the Four Mile Historic Park in Denver. It is named thus because it is four miles from downtown Denver.



Built in 1859, Four Mile House once served as a stage stop, wayside inn, and tavern for travelers on the Cherokee Trail on their way to Denver City.




We chose the pioneer sampler with the following activities: butter making, farm chores, pioneer games, prairie school and gold panning. Chaperones were assigned to each of the stations that had been set up all over the 12 acre park and my station, as you know, was the outdoor kitchen where we made sweet cream butter.

Most of the older homes had fully-equipped outdoor kitchens as the stoves were usually wood-burning stoves, making it unbearable to cook indoors in the summer heat. Quite frankly, even the outdoor kitchen was unbearable. We were there at the end of April with temperatures in the low 80s, without the stove on, and we couldn't wait to get into the shade!


There were a lot of cast-iron kitchen tools displayed in the outdoor kitchen that were probably forged on the farm itself. Like these tongs...

and this ladle...

and this gong! The kids had a great time 'calling everyone for dinner!'


This is an original butter churner that was used in those days to make butter. We were so busy in the outdoor kitchen that I did not get a chance to take a picture of the inside of the butter churner. The wooden shaft had an X-shaped stomper at the end that agitated the cream when it was moved up and down. We did not use this antique butter churner and instead made sweet cream butter in a jar.

It was a day of immense learning for all of us. Me, most of all, because I also learned that the homes that have sunk into the ground leaving only the roof are built like that by design. They aren't homes! They are root cellars!

I have vowed to go back to the Four Mile Historic Park again because I missed out on the other activities. Before leaving though, I took one last picture of an old wagon, a replica of the wagons used by the pioneers as they burnt the trail on their search for gold and riches.


Life on a farm in the early 1900s was very hard! We came away very grateful for all the amenities we have in our homes today, especially running water, electricity and heating. If you have an old working farm in your area, keep it in mind for a day trip as it is an eye-opener, both for kids as well as adults.

Other old-fashioned working farms we have visited in the past year are:
Walker Ranch, Boulder, Colorado
Ardenwood Historic Farm, Fremont, California

Have you been to a historic farm and learned something new? Do consider sharing your experience with the rest of us!

10 comments:

Anita said...

"...also learned that the homes that have sunk into the ground leaving only the roof are built like that by design." LOL.

Yes, we may romanticize the 'days bygone" but the truth is it was a hard life...even on present day farms, life is a lot of hard labour. Thank you, farmers and other such people, for bringing us the riches of the land.

And thank you, Manisha, for reminding us what we may have to re-teach ourselves when the electricity (oil and coal) runs out! Great picture of the wagon!

Kribha said...

Nice informative post. Enjoyed reading it.

Sandeepa said...

I like the NaBloMoPo, it makes you write every day and we get to read something nice every day.
Is it on for next month too ?

MarysMom said...

Have notb een to a working farm just yet. Been to Heritage Park in Calgary, Alberta where they have old houses and their original stoves, furniture, etc. When I see places like this, I shudder to think how much more difficult life was before--- the creature comforts, I mean.

Manisha said...

Anita, thank you! For always picking up on the underlying message of my post! I read in a rural electricity publication that Colorado will soon need more energy than its supply or it will have to have adequate cuts in demands. The latter is unlikely to happen as CO's population has been growing in the recent years. 70% of our electricity comes from coal and technology to capture carbon and store it is about 15 years away, later than when we need it. Apparently harnessing renewable energy is not a simple answer to the quandary. It's a bleak future that is staring us in the face.

Kribha, you're welcome. I hope you can go to a historic farm to experience it for yourself.

Sandeepa, it makes me write and you read? How very convenient! How about returning the favor in December? And I don't mean on DMC through various authors but on your personal blog!

Marymom, Walker Ranch is a great place to start off with. They open to the public for two weekends in September each year. Mary will be a year older, too. We take the creature comforts you mention for granted. Sometimes we need to make a trip back to the past to be reminded of how good we have and also, of how temporary it is.

musical said...

This is such a wonderful post, Manisha. Your response to Anita's comment brings forth some bitter truths.....And as for the life on a farm, i kinda' have experienced it. Back home, when i was lil', i used to visit my Grandma's place and they had just one light bulb and a table fan and rest everything was very earthy. The dung-cakes were used as fuel very commonly those days and a lil' bit of wood (that's naturally fallen from the trees) would make up the rest. It was a much simpler life. Even today, we don't have an A/c at home and i think we are better without it. And i love to use thehand pump at home, its a very good exercise :).

Sandeepa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sandeepa said...

ha ha Manisha...then no one gets to read "nice" stuff everyday, nice is the keyword here.

And like Musy, though I did not grew up in a farm, while growing up in our grandparents home and even later in some of the hill areas we stayed, running water was a luxury maybe just half an hour during the day. Electricity was equally bad, with the dim lights getting brighter only after 10PM. Most of the school work used to be finished by day light and then it was oil lamps.

Cleaning those lamps everyday was a chore for the help and a lot of effort would go into trimming the wick of the lamps, filling kerosene, etc.

It never felt unusual or hard and it was same for almost everyone in that hilly town. Once we get used to certain luxuries in life that we find going back harder.

Sandy C. said...

What a wonderful trip! And beautiful photos. I would love to take our daughter to a historic farm once she's a bit older. You've inspired me to look up some in New England :)

Treehugger said...

I liked this post, Manisha. Until recently, I thought the Cherokee Trail of Tears stopped in Oklahoma.

Have you heard of a type of bean the Cherokee brought with them to Colorado?