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Parker Diorama

In 1997, Ruth Miller suggested that the Parker Area Historical Society build some sort of diorama of the early town of Parker. A committee was formed consisting of Ruth, her husband Whit, Larry T. Smith, and his wife, Susan. A general idea of content and size was identified, as well as an approximate time frame. A scale of N. gauge, (1-160), was proposed. A place to put the finished project was identified when the Parker Library gave permission to put it at their facility. The second step was to put out a call for old photos to be used to identify town layout, building configurations, and other town amenities. A significant search was conducted. To make the layout as accurate as possible, four building views would have been ideal, but were seldom found.  If two elevations were identified, we considered ourselves grateful.  We often used pictures to identify buildings, their relationship to other buildings, and appurtenances in the background. It took months to find all the available photos and then months more to develop specific structure sizes, roof pitches, exterior wall construction details, color schemes, and the countless other decisions that had to be made. One of those early decisions was the timeframe in history, and the 1917 / 1918 time period was chosen.  All of this data was entered into a computer program that enabled the laser cutting of each of the thousands of individual pieces that made up the structures to be included in the diorama. Chris Stames and Larry Smith spent 250 hours designing and drawing the blueprints and Larry spent another 100 hours in research.  The diorama eventually required 2250 hours to assemble.

Then it was time to identify model builders with the desired capabilities and obtain bids to identify a projected cost of the project. Four capable providers were identified with costs associated running from about $29,000 to more than $40,000, for just the model, delivery, and setup. The base for the model to set on was to be another cost item. The model builder chosen was Chris Stames of Exhibit A Model Builders and he was willing to fulfill our contract requirements at a cost of $28,630. Grants were received for $8.000 from the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, $2000 from Wal-Mart, and $1700 from Wells Fargo. Carriages and Calvary gave $1000. Individuals also contributed. The Historical Society sold calendars and books and auctioned off sponsorships of various structures on the diorama.


The contract called for a layout of 6 X 8 feet, a model in N gauge, (1-160), to include approximately 80 structures with accompanying appurtenances such as windmills, water tanks, telephone poles, people, animals, wagons, buggies, a train track with a Colorado & Southern train, and associated items. A plastic dome cover was to be provided to cover the entire layout. A second contract was awarded to Dick Ketchum to provide a rolling base cabinet made of Oak containing six cabinets for storage at a cost of $1400.


During the construction process, the Parker Library informed the Society that due to pressing needs for additional space we could no longer plan on putting the diorama in the library. 


Since its installation in 2003, the diorama has been a significant and well-appreciated addition to the early history of Parker and has been viewed by thousands of individuals.


Information for this brief obtained from the personal records of Larry T. Smith, and A Guide to Historic Sites in the Parker Area by Frank McLaughlin.

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