Mesa County Oral History Project

The Mesa County Oral History Project began as a joint project of the Museums of Western Colorado and Mesa County Libraries (MCL) in 1975. The Oral History Project collected tape-recorded interviews with pioneers of Mesa County and surrounding areas, and interviews with the children of pioneers. The Central Library housed the duplicate audio cassettes and provided patron access to the histories. The Museum stored the master tapes and kept files and transcripts related to the oral history collection. The Mesa County Historical Society also contributed significantly to the Oral History Project by collaborating with the library and museum to select interviewees, and by providing interviewers and other volunteers.

Mesa County Libraries no longer partner with the Museum in housing duplicate copies of tapes. But the library now works with the Museum to digitize interviews from the Mesa County Oral History Project and to provide online access to the interviews through Pika, the library catalog. The Museum continues to house the original audio cassettes, interview transcripts, and other source material for the project. The Library and the Museums of Western Colorado still record oral histories with residents who have important knowledge of the area’s history.

Please note that some interviews contain language that listeners or readers may consider offensive. Mesa County Libraries does not condone such language, but has included interviews in their entirety in the interest of preserving history.

Featured Oral Histories


US Representative Wayne Aspinall: He grew up in Palisade and became one of the most influential and powerful representatives in Washington

Harold Bryant: A prominent Western painter who grew up in the Appleton area and returned after his career as a New York illustrator

Chipeta: Ute Indian leader, and wife of Chief Ouray

J.A.K. Crawford: One of Grand Junction's founders, the builder of the Riverside neighborhood, and owner of one of the town's first brick factories

Wallace A.E. De Beque: An early local doctor and founder of the Town of De Beque

J.W. "Big Kid" Eames: The notorious but kind and community-minded owner of The Biltmore gambling parlor on Grand Junction's Main Street

Lucy (Ferril) Ela: Daughter of a pioneer ranching family in Glade Park and a prominent Mesa County resident

Chet Enstrom: The founder of Enstrom Candies and the famous Enstrom's Toffee

John "Peg-leg" Foster: The Outlaw of Outlaw Mesa and one of Paradox's most colorful residents

Al Look: Grand Junction's renaissance man - An amateur archeologist, paleontologist, historian, author and painter.

Lucille (Hunter) Mahannah: A Hunter District pioneer,, Superintendent of Mesa County Schools, first female caseworker in the US Army, Director of Public Welfare in Mesa County, a founder of the Izaak Walton League's local chapter, and active in local ecological and conservation causes.

John Otto: Locally renowned eccentric whose work building trails and in advocacy for local public lands resulted in the creation of the Colorado National Monument

William McGinley: One of Grand Junction’s founders

Charlie Glass: A skilled cowboy and African-American pioneer who worked for ranching outfits in eastern Utah and western Colorado

Dalton Trumbo: The Daily Sentinel cub reporter who went on to become an Oscar winning screenwriter responsible for Spartacus and other scripts.

Jean Urruty: Basque sheepherder and immigrant who overcame poverty and discrimination to become a hotel owner on Colorado Boulevard

Walter Walker: The Daily Sentinel owner and editor who brought the newspaper to prominence. He was also the founder, and then enemy, of Grand Junction's Ku Klux Klan in the 1920's.