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Curator's Favorite Artifacts

Stories about some favorite artifacts in the Ouray County History Museum.

Artifact #1

01 Fyrstop2.jpg
01 Fyrstop1.jpg

The AUTOFYRSTOP fire extinguisher is shown in the attached photos. It was manufactured by the Merchant and Evans Company in Philadelphia. They made these devices from the late 19th century into the 1940s. Our example was one of the later models.

The original AUROFYRSTOP globes were filled with carbon tetrachloride, also known as carbon tet. In the case of a fire one could break off the tip and sprinkle the carbon tet over the fire. You could also shake it and get a stream of carbon tet to direct at the fire. If the temperature in the area rose to above 180 degrees Fahrenheit a metal alloy would melt causing a spring to unwind sending a metal point into the globe smashing it and releasing all of the carbon tet. In theory the carbon tet would vaporize and since it is more dense than air the vapor would fall to the floor preventing any oxygen from reaching the fire which should put the fire out.


The jury is still out as to how effective this would have been and, as you probably know, carbon tet is a carcinogen. When we were carrying out a State Historic Fund Assessment Grant several years ago on the museum building we found more than a half dozen of these globes in the museum attic! The globe shown in the photos is in the museum Grocery Store area and it is filled with water and not carbon tet. The second photo shows the globe removed from the holder exposing the metal point held back by the coiled spring.

Artifact #2

02 SpaghettiTwister1.jpg
02 SpaghettiTwister2.jpg

Super Duper Spaghetti Twister shown in the close up photo to the left. One removed the fork from the stand, placed the fork in a plate of spaghetti and turned the crank to twist the spaghetti onto the fork.


The second photo shows seven Elk wives demonstrating the use of the twisters while dressed in Chef’s uniforms. Each twister came with detailed instruction for use. The Elks did not admit women as members until 1995 although they had Women’s  Auxiliary Memberships for many years before that.





The women are, back row, l. to r.: Betty Fulghum, Dorothy Davis, Evelyn Bates, Evelyn Scala and Lucille Fellin; front row, l. to r: Mildred McGee and Thelma Flor. These gag twisters were made in the 1950s by Citizens State Bank President Ralph Kullerstrand. (1894-1967). Ralph was a gifted wood worker and the museum has several display cabinets made by Ralph with intricate inlaid wood.

Artifact #3

03Powell Tea Box.jpg
03 Powell Tea Ad.png

E. H. Powell opened his first grocery store in Ouray in 1884. In 1895 he built his own building at 512 Main Street which he operated until his death in 1924.


The building is now part of the Rockin P Ranch store. The building has a beautiful Mesker Iron Front. Sometime in the early 1900s this large box of Japanese tea (photo below) was shipped to his store in Ouray.


The second photo shows an ad in the October 24, 1902 issue of the Ouray Plaindealer announcing that: "I import all of my own tea and will have a fresh lot, direct from Japan in a few days." He was a member of the Ouray City Council for many years served as the mayor of Ouray from 1895 to 1897. Powell was a lifelong member of the Ouray Elks Lodge and also an amateur architect having designed the Ouray Elks Building in 1905.

Artifact #4

04 Smith Model 10 Typewriter.jpg
04 Smith Model 10 Typewrite Adr.jpg

The Smith Premier Typewriter Company Model 10 Typewriter. The first practical typewriter was introduced by the Remington Company in 1868.


Our Smith Premier Model 10 typewriter, shown below in the photo, was manufactured between 1908 and 1917. Notice the unusual double keyboard with both lower case and uppercase keyboards. It is interesting that although the shift key was introduced as early as 1878, double keyboards persisted into the first quarter of the 20th century. The typewriter and original ad are on display in the Ouray County Room.

Artifact #5

05 Sad Iron Low Res.jpg
05 Mrs Potts Ad.jpg

Mrs. Potts and the Sad Iron. In the middle of the 1800s there were a number of "flatirons" available commercially, but the handles usually became hot while the iron was heating on the stove.  


In 1871 Mrs. Mary Potts patented an improvement on the "Sad Iron" [sad means "heavy" in this context]. The handle on her invention was removable allowing the user to have many iron bodies heating on the stove. When one cooled, all you had to do was remove the handle and attach it to a fully heated iron.


The Potts Patent Iron became one of the very earliest commercial successes in the growing post-Civil War economy. Mrs. Potts directed the company and was considered to be a very able executive.


The "One Size Fits All" handle enabled the user to select the iron that met the needs of the task (i.e. a large iron for flats or a small iron for cuffs). The user could rapidly switch between irons as they cooled and were heated.


The item is located in the museum hospital kitchen.

Artifact #6

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06 HogScraper2.jpg

This object is a bell-shaped hog scraper.


After the hog was killed and bled, it was placed in scalding water at just the right temperature (about 60 degrees Celsius) to loosen the hair but not so hot that the hair would set. Using tools like this one, several workers scraped the hair off the hog.


Then the hog was butchered.

Artifact #7


About ten years ago I replaced a broken frame on a poster in the Museum Grocery Store area advertising Mott’s Apple Sauce. When I took out the poster and turned it over, I found a home-made Monopoly Board.


It was created during the depression by some member of the Duckett Family and donated to the Museum in 1974 by Hazel Duckett Weston former wife of Fred Duckett.  Fred operated the Pioneer Grocery and Market in Ridgway from 1926 until sometime before his death in 1952 when he sold the store to his son Leland.  In 1951 Leland moved the store to Ouray and changed the name to Duckett’s Market.


Upon Leland’s death in 1970, his son Roger took over the store.  A few decades later Roger turned over the store to his daughter Kristin who sold Duckett’s Market to Tom and Alyssa Fedel Family in 2020.

Artifact #8


During both world wars American families posted a small flag in a front window containing a blue star for each family member serving in the military.


If a family member died the blue star would be replaced with a gold star.


On May 2, 1918 the Ouray Herald reported that St. John's Episcopal Church dedicated a service flag (shown to the left) containing a blue star for each member of the congregation serving in the war in Europe. At the time of the service none of them had been killed but two later died and their stars were painted over in gold.

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