The Otero Museum Association was incorporated March, 1984 to establish a museum in La Junta, Colorado. The Otero County Historical Society donated its collection of memorabilia to the Otero Museum, which was supplemented with thousands of items from local residents. The museum covers a time span of 1875 - 1945, and is dedicated to preserving the heritage of La Junta and the surrounding area.|
The artifacts at the museum are imaginatively displayed to portray life and business during the early years of the lower Arkansas Valley. We feature displays focusing on railroads, military, postal, agricultural, business, transportation, schools, and all other aspects of pioneer life. Our extensive collection is both educational and entertaining, and is definitely worth a visit.
Our transportation collection includes an 1867 "Old Overland Stage", built in Concord, NH by the Abbott Downing Coach Company. It was one of thirteen ordered by the Fargo Company at a price of $1,100. It first operated from Leavenworth, KS to Denver over the Smoky Hills route, and later from Denver to Leadville, when it was known as the "Little Pittsburgh" (named after Horace Tabor's "Little Pittsburgh" mine). This collection also includes a 1903 Surrey that was purchased through the Montgomery Ward catalogue for $60, 1916 Chuckwagon, 1905 REO Sidewinder, 1916 Dodge, the Colorado Bicentennial Wagon, and several other fascinating items.
Our railroad collection focuses on the A.T. & S. F. Railroad and the Kansas Pacific Railroad. It includes a 1939 Plymouth switch engine and boxcar, a cut-away view of engine parts and a telegraph station replica. We have an extensive collection of railroad implements including uniforms, lanterns, watches, a Santa Fe calendar collection spanning 1914 - 1993, a historical photograph collection and hundreds of other items. The kids (young and old) can push a button to "blow" the 1897 steam locomotive whistle.
The Sciumbato House/Grocery Store is on the National Historic Register. It was the home and business of Daniel and Mary Sciumbato from 1901 - 1974, and is furnished in the period of the early 1900's. It features a murphy bed, complete dining room, living room, kitchen with a kerosene range and ice box and fully furnished bedrooms, complete with clothing (including an 1890s black wedding dress) and a fascinating toy collection. The grocery store was originally added to the home in 1916, and we have it stocked with old tins, a meat counter, scales, and all of the things you would expect to find in an old fashioned neighborhood grocery store.
The Wickham House was originally built in Granada, Colorado in 1873 and was moved to La Junta by flat car in 1876. It served as a boarding house, run by Mrs. Nancy Wickham and her three daughters, for railroad workers until 1886, when the Fred Harvey House was built at the train station. The Wickham house was the first wooden framed house in La Junta. At the time of its arrival, all of La Junta's other residents lived in tents or adobe structures. This house is furnished in the period of the 1880s including a pie safe, fainting couch, spinning wheel, secretary, sewing machine, etc.
Our historic building collection includes the first La Junta schoolhouse, which had 13 students from 1876 - 1879. This one-room, primitive structure was built as a cabin and the owner donated it to the town in 1876 for use as a school. It includes typical school furnishings, old maps, a wood burning stove, and a 38 star flag.
We also have various military items from W.W.I and W.W.II, a postal collection that is set up as a mini post office and a fascinating medical display. Other displays include a collection of over 130 mustache cups, a nice set of Wedgwood Jasperware, bread plates, beer steins, and other fine glassware items. The organ from the Tabor Opera House in Leadville is located in our main building, along with a pre-Civil War loom, cameras, phonographs, clocks and numerous other items.
These are just a few of the thousands of items housed in the museum. Admission to the museum is free and donations are greatly appreciated. A knowledgeable, volunteer tour guide takes every visitor to the museum on a guided tour (also at no cost). We hope you will take some time to stop by and visit the Otero Museum. It is definitely worth the trip. Plan on at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours for your visit.
At the corner of Third and Anderson Streets
La Junta, CO 81050
June 1 - September 30
Monday - Saturday
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Special and off-season tours can be arranged by
calling the museum ahead of time.