Richard Fike and the Museum of the Mountain West just snagged True West magazine’s award for the nation’s “Best Western History Collector” –based on his fascinating collection of nearly one and a half million artifacts.   His collection includes plenty of little things but also historical buildings that were moved to Montrose. He told us, “All of the buildings outside are original buildings except for the hotel and the jail and the jail is from an old barn. they were in the valley here in the Uncompaghre Valley all the way to Hotchkiss and all the way down almost down to Ridgeway.”

Fike has a long history of collecting and recovering his first artifact when he was only four years old, and his family moved to Alaska. He said, “They had a model T garage so you couldn’t put a regular car in there it’s too narrow and in there I found a clock a Thomas carriage clock.” That clock was the beginning, but Fike told me by the time he was eight his collection had already turned into a small museum. Combine that with a trip to see ancient wonders and his life’s path was set. He told us about a trip he went on when he was twelve. “We visited the southwest, Chaco, and Mesa Verde and that’s it I want to be an archeologist and that’s what my career was.

Fike ended up working as an archeologist for the Smithsonian and as the Utah state archeologist for the Bureau of Reclamation before setting up his own– museum of the mountain west in Montrose.  From a complete vintage dentist shop, bar, and drug store to scores of relics like an automatic violin and an entire carriage collection, Fike and his team found it all. Ultimately his goal is to share his passion and his artifacts with visitors from around the world.

The museum is in Montrose head to their website to learn more.