History Colorado Hart Awards

History Colorado Hart Awards

Maura Bennett
Maura Bennett

Japanese American farmers were well established in Colorado before WW2 when 7000 Japanese Americans were sent to the Granada War Relocation Center, also known as Camp Amache.

In fact, History Colorado says Japanese Americans were working Southeast Colorado’s farms as early as 1902. Japanese American farmers played a significant role in the development of agriculture and specifically, the much-loved Rocky Ford melons.

Otero County has been recognized for documenting the history of Japanese American farmers by History Colorado and has been awarded the Stephen H. Hart Awards. The awards are named for the state’s first Historic Preservation Officer.

Governor Jared Polis recorded a congratulations video used during this year’s virtual award presentations.

Polis: “These awards are so important to recognize outstanding projects and individual achievements in archeology and historic preservation throughout Colorado. The projects came from rural and urban areas including Boulder, Otero County, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and the Great Sand Dunes Area. We hope to bring more attention to the great work Colorado has achieved in the preservation realm and highlight how we’ve continued to adapt and grow in these difficult circumstances.”

The Otero County project conducted an archaeological and building survey of six sites associated with Japanese-American history, in Swink and Rocky Ford. The oral histories and the historic properties that were documented shed light on the contributions of Japanese-Americans in Colorado agriculture and beyond.

History Colorado also recognized the Coronado Lodge in Pueblo, one of the places for Blacks to stay and feel safe while traveling during the era of segregation.

Also recognized was the Boulder County Courthouse National Register Amendment. The Courthouse was the site where the first same-sex marriage licenses were issued in Colorado in 1975. It’s played an important role in the civil rights struggles of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community.

History Colorado has posted videos of the projects and their managers.

The ancient Lithophones of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and the Palmer Trash Discovery are also on this year’s list of Hart Awards.

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