Visit our special Arleigh Burke exhibit between now and September!

Museum Adds Exhibit Commemorating Civil War

In April 1861, the deadliest conflict in American history broke out. Angered by the election of abolitionist Abraham Lincoln to the highest office in the land, 11 Southern states broke away from the Union. What would follow were four years of bloody conflict that cost the lives of over half a million Americans.

Photo of Civil War artifacts

Colorado was also caught up in the war. President Lincoln nominated William Gilpin to become governor of the newly formed Colorado Territory, with orders that he protect the gold and silver assets from any attempt by the Confederates to invade the territory and seize them.

Gilpin raised a regiment of 1,000 men just in the nick of time, for a force of 3,000 Texans was marching from San Antonio up the Rio Grande Valley through New Mexico on their way to Colorado. Literally heading them off at the pass — Glorieta Pass, outside of Santa Fe — the Colorado volunteers turned back the would-be invaders in a two-day battle in March 1862 and saved the West for the Union.

The story of the “Pike’s Peakers” and “Gilpin’s Lambs,” as they were called, is currently on display at the museum, along with artifacts of the war. The exhibit will be up until mid-May 2021.

Cold War Fallout Shelter Opens at Museum

Pictured is the museum’s fully outfitted 1950s fallout shelter, where civilians could expect to spend two weeks or more in order to survive a nuclear attack.

Another recent addition to the museum is the full-scale fallout shelter in the Cold War Room.  This fallout shelter replicates in perfect detail the type of basement shelter that many Americans built during the 1950s and 1960s when fears of an imminent nuclear attack by the Soviet Union or Communist China were very real. The fallout shelter chillingly reminds visitors of a frightening time in U.S. history.