The National Scenic Byway Foundation is set to recognize the Gold Belt Tour Scenic & Historic Byway on August 25 as the winner of its 2023 Byway Organization Award. The focus of the award; the organization’s ability to leverage resources.
To celebrate this accomplishment the Gold Belt Tour Scenic & Historic Byway Association will be hosting an award ceremony at 10:00 a.m. Friday, Aug, 25, to be held on the grounds of the Historic Garden Park School at 5800 Garden Park Rd. in Cañon City, Co. (Google address is 6484 Garden Park Rd). Partners that have helped the organization complete the restoration of the exterior will also be on hand to help celebrate.
It took twenty years of patience, dedicated volunteer efforts, foundation grants, and donor fundraising, for the Gold Belt Tour Scenic Byway Association to restore the exterior of the Garden Park School, originally built in 1839. More than 100 years had taken a toll on the school structure built by community residents from locally made adobe bricks. The school was important to the culture of the area and sits on a major corner of the byway route.
Starting with a historic structure assessment plan, organizers determined what needed to be done, how to proceed and estimates of the labor and funds it would take for restoration. Over the years, their partners included the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Colorado State Land Board, the Colorado State Historical Society, the Friends of the Garden Park School, El Pomar and Boettcher Foundations, and the Fremont County Government. The local business alliance, Rotary Club, residents, and friends were crucial for their volunteer time and fund-raising efforts.
In 1989 the Gold Belt Tour was first designated as a BLM and State Byway. Then in 2000 it became a National Scenic Byway, featuring scenic views, adventurous routes, and unique historical features.
“Since its earliest designation as a Back Country Byway, the Gold Belt Tour has long been a uniquely economical and accessible opportunity for recreation – in part because of its proximity to the public lands managed by the BLM,” said Gold Belt Tour Byway Association President Charlotte Bumgarner. “It’s a great partnership that allows us to accomplish other goals including conservation, preservation, education and safety.”
The nonprofit organization was formed in 1998. It’s mission includes coordinating the education, safety, promotion, conservation, and preservation along 131 miles of designated road. To learn more about the byway, check out www.goldbeltbyway.com .