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Grand Junction History in Pictures

Two Rivers Chautauqua

What is a Chautauqua?

Chautauqua takes its name from a movement that began near Lake Chautauqua, New York, in the 1800s. It began with Sunday school teachers gathering for a week of study, but it became a touring program through which local communities could enjoy traveling speakers, politicians, plays, and music. Many communities still have the Chautauqua parks where these outdoor events were held, usually under a big tent. We've been told that at its height in 1924, Chautauqua programs visited over 12,000 towns and entertained over 32,000,000 people nationwide. But new technologies--radio and TV--led to the demise of the old-fashioned Chautauqua.


Today, Chautauqua has been reinvented as a way to bring the humanities, especially history, back to life. Organizations across the country bring in professional scholar-actors (Chautauquans) as historical characters, bringing history to life for their audiences. Local talent provides a great variety of daytime programs. These modern-day Chautauquas are usually sponsored by state humanities councils and other non-profit entities.


What about Two Rivers Chautauqua?


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Two Rivers Chautauqua got its start in 2006, thanks to the Museum of Western Colorado, Colorado Humanities, and local donors. It is a two-day event held each year on a Friday and Saturday in September.

You'll notice that some of our Chautauquans portray very well-known American icons; others are not so well-known. We believe that part of the fun of Chautauqua is learning more about our country's history through historical figures we may not know so well, or at all. Here's a year by year theme

  • 2006 - "The Call of the West" with professionals portraying Kit Carson, Jessie Benton Fremont, Teddy Roosevelt, and Marie Curie.
  • 2007 - "1776" and our guests were Benjamin Franklin, Phillis Wheatley, Thomas Jefferson, and Hector St. John de Crevecoeur.
  • 2008 - "World War II" and we brought in General George Patton, Eleanor Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Ernie Pyle.
  • 2009 - "Larger than Life" with four cultural icons from the past. Irene Castle, P.T. Barnum, Coco Chanel and Babe Ruth entertained us with their stories and fabulous personalities.
  • 2010 - "The American Civil War" with Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, William Lloyd Garrison and Robert E. Lee
  • 2011 - "Lighten Up!" with Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker and Will Rogers.
  • 2012 - "Inventive Minds" gave us insights into the minds of Henry Ford, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Albert Einstein and Dr. Seuss.
  • 2013 - "Colorado Riches!" with Margaret "Molly" Brown, Otto Mears, Teddy Roosevelt and el vaquero, Diego Diego Martín
  • 2014 - "American Dreams" with Alexander Hamilton, John James Audubon, Jane Addams and Rosa Parks

Go here for more information on this year's event - Rascals and Rogues!




Cross Orchards Historic Site
3073 F Road Grand Junction, Colorado 81504


Cross Orchards Location






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