Salida Museum completed installation of an exhibit honoring two of the museum’s founders, Harriet Alexander and her friend Byrd Fuqua in November, said board member Susan Jesuroga.
Alexander started the museum as the Frontier Museum in 1954 in two back rooms at the Hot Springs Pool. Fuqua came to help when she retired from Mount Princeton.
Jesuroga said the museum wanted to share with patrons some background on two of the founding members of the museum. “We wanted to show people that Harriet was more than just the person the airport was named after,” she said. “Harriet was modest and petite. Byrd was flamboyant — she would walk into a room and fill it.”
She said it took longer to get the items for the Alexander portion of the exhibit because the museum didn’t have many of the pictures or information the museum board thought they had.
“When her estate settled, the museum didn’t get many of her personal things,” she said. “It took a while to get the items to tell the full story about her and the museum.”
Alexander was the president of the Tuesday Evening Club, which built the library in Salida, said Jesuroga. Alexander was also the chairperson of the Red Cross for Chaffee County, involved with the Salida Women’s Club and part of the National Conference of Charities and Correction.
“She was involved with politics as a member of city council,” she added. In 1953, Alexander was the first woman ever elected to the Salida city council.
Items in her display, like the Buddha head and book from the Tuesday Evening Club, are just some of the many things that will tell the story about the founder of the museum, said Jesuroga.
According to Jesuroga, the half of the display featuring Fuqua took less time to put together because the museum already had many of the items used in the display.
Fuqua ran a lodge for wealthy boys who wouldn’t otherwise enjoy the outdoors and a dude ranch near Mt. Princeton Hot Springs.
“Her niche was running the dude ranch,” Jesuroga said. “She continued running the ranch until her husband died. She moved around a bit, in places like Boulder, before settling on Salida to help her friend with the museum.”
Fuqua had a collection of Native American artifacts which were some of the first things donated to the museum.
“There was a mountain lion hunt with the Denver Post,” Jesuroga said. “Some of the visiting hunters bet her $500 that she couldn’t catch a mountain lion alive. So she went out with trackers and brought back a live mountain lion. A few weeks later she gave the mountain lion to the St. Louis Zoo.”
The Salida Museum, 406 W. U.S. 50, is open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays during the winter.