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ABOUT BIG TIMBERS MUSEUM

Big Timbers Museum was named for the huge stands of cottonwoods, and other trees,
which grew up to three quarters of a mile wide extending eastward and westward along the Arkansas River.

Last of Big Timbers - Copy

"Last of the Big Timbers" painted by Mrs. Paul (Mildred) Steward.
This painting is part of the Prowers County Historical Society's collection on display at
Big Timbers Museum. The depicted cottonwood tree was located northeast of the Amity Canal
headgate near the Prowers-Bent county line and measured 16 feet in circumference.

The Big Timbers were at one time the site of 600 Native American lodges, and the scene of many
Indian Councils and annual feasts. Cheyenne, Comanche, Arapaho, Kiowa, and other tribes of the plains
found refuge in the Big Timbers during the winter. Explorer Zebulon Pike and others used the area
as a bivouac for their expeditions as they traveled along the Arkansas River.
William Bent built his New Fort in this area which later became known as Fort Wise 1852 – 1866.

Black and white image of Fort Wise in Prowers County
This photograph of Fort Wise is part of the Prowers County Historical Society's collection on display at Big Timbers Museum.

Pioneers and settlers traveling along the Santa Fe Trail on the Arkansas River found the Big Timbers to be the finest place
to camp after leaving Council Groves, Kansas. The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (N.S.D.A.R)
and The National Old Trails Road Association determined that the historical incidents that took place in the Big Timbers
were significant and chose Lamar, Colorado as an outstanding site for one of their twelve “Madonna of the Trail” markers
on the National Old Trails Road. The twelve statues are a memorial to the “Pioneer Mothers of the Covered Wagon Days”.

Black and White image of sculptor August Leimbach working on a Madonna of the trails statue in 1927
This 1927 photograph of sculptor August Leimbach working in his St. Louis, Missouri, studio on one of the National
“Madonna of the Trails” Memorial Monuments is part of the Prowers County Historical Society collection at Big Timbers Museum.
The Madonna of the Trail monument stands in the center of Lamar near the Welcome Center and train depot.

In cooperation with Prowers County, Big Timbers Museum is sponsored by Prowers County Historical Society and features
the Society’s collection of archives and artifacts which focus on the legacy of the High Plains of Eastern Colorado.
Exhibits range from ancient Native American inhabitants; pioneers and homesteaders; an 1890’s Charles Fredrick Worth
lace wedding gown; military history including a WWI poster collection; artifacts related to the N.S.D.A.R. Madonna of the Trail Monument
and National Old Trails Road Markers; a variety of artifacts related to the Fleagle Gang robbery of the First National Bank in Lamar
(their cases were the first ever in which the Bureau of Investigation, later called the FBI, used a single fingerprint as part of the
evidence leading to a conviction); the dust bowl; a large collection of local newspapers; and other area history as Prowers County
and its High Plains neighbors have grown into the 21st century.

Color photograph of a blue and black 1927 Buick that was owned by the Fleagle Gang
This blue 1927 Buick was owned by the notorious Fleagle Gang that robbed the First National Bank in Lamar.
The vehicle is on display at the Big Timbers Transportation Museum.

In 2011, the Big Timbers Museum added the Big Timbers Transportation Museum which features antique wagons,
buggies, cars, trucks, and items related to traveling on the Santa Fe Trail.


Plan your visit to Big Timbers Museum north of Lamar, Colorado today!
See the Big Timbers Museum main page for hours of operation.