Pine River Valley sheep are baaack, this time in a museum exhibition.
The Pine River Valley Heritage Society Museum opens for the summer on Saturday, featuring a new exhibit on sheep trailing, complete with a re-creation of part of a sheep wagon.
Much of the exhibit was created by museum volunteers Anne Schrier and Joanne McCoy, with help from Schrier's husband, Tony, who built the wagon.
The exhibit starts with a picture of arboglyphs in Moonlick Park east of Bayfield. Arboglyphs, or carvings into trees, were often created by sheep herders whiling away their time in the mountains. The earliest one recorded in this show is from 1917, while others photographed are from the 1920s.
Then come exhibits on two local families who are still ranching sheep in the area, the Browns and the Jones-Parry families. McCoy worked on the research of the Jones family, starting with patriarch Arthur, who starting ranching here in the early 1900s. Today his grandson, Richard Parry, runs Foxfire Farms near Ignacio with his family.
Pictures of two of Jones' daughters holding a pet coyote and a pretty well-grown domesticated mountain lion are quite interesting, considering that most ranchers today would shoot the predators on sight.
The Brown family history has pictures of Casey Brown trailing sheep from the 1970s and 1980s, and his descendants carry on the tradition today.
Tony Schrier built the back of a sheep wagon using pieces of an old shed donated to the museum, and Rollie and Ella Roth are loaning antique tins like the kind that would have been used by a sheep herder in the mountains. Videos also play inside the wagon. They alternate between footage of a modern sheep trailing, and a film shot by Jesse Lasater of his family's sheep herd grazing in the mountains north of the Pine River Valley.
The sheep exhibit is funded by a grant administered by the San Juan Mountains Association with funding from the Colorado Historical Society, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the U.S. Forest Service. After the museum closes this fall, part of the exhibit might be displayed at the Animas Museum in Durango.
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday throughout the summer. Tomorrow, free ice cream will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and volunteers from the Animas Museum will demonstrate the craft of spinning wool into yarn. Admission is free, but donations are always appreciated.