Ouray historic cabin history questioned

by Tori Sheets



One Ouray native is on a quest to correct historical information about a cabin at the Ouray County Historical Museum that he believes is inaccurate.  

Bill Crawford contacted Ouray County Historical Society to let them know he thinks the history on a cabin known as the Raab/Sly cabin is incorrect. According to the historical society, the cabin was built in 1905 and donated to the museum in 1971. The plaque on the cabin says it originally stood off Main Street between 9th Avenue and the Hot Springs Pool. The museum's website also says it may have been part of Ouray's "Red Light" district. 

However, Crawford believes the cabin was originally located on 4th Street across from the courthouse and city hall. He said his family hired a woman to restore the cabin around 1950 and Crawford's mother turned it into a schoolhouse. The cabin was never used as a schoolhouse, so Crawford and his childhood friends used to play in it. 

"As children, my brother and sisters and I used the cabin as a playhouse, storage and other activities," he said. "Many of our childhood friends remember the cabin and its original location."

Crawford's parents sold the cabin in 1967 to the Pastorie family, and he is not sure when it was removed from the property. 

The dimensions of the cabin located on the grounds of the museum and the foundation at the old location are identical. 

Crawford said he can recognize several distinctive features of the cabin that leave no doubt in his mind it is the same one that was located on his property growing up. He remembers pounding several large nails into the outside of the cabin, and they are still in the same spots he claims to have put them. The cabin also has distinctive spring-loaded window locks that Crawford said are unique to the cabin he remembers from his childhood, and there are still sheetrock nails in the ceiling of the cabin where Crawford said he installed sheetrock in 1966. 

Don Paulson, curator of the Ouray Museum, said he believes the original history on the cabin is correct, but he hasn't had time to research Crawford's claims yet. He plans on looking into the history more in the fall. 

"As far as I know it is what we say it is," Paulson said. "I have to interview people who were originally involved in the donation and I have to look up our records." 

Paulson said he was not working for the museum when the cabin was donated and the history on it was recorded. 

Crawford posted his personal history about the cabin on Facebook and received several replies from his childhood friends who say they remember the cabin as well. One commenter remembers the cabin the plaque refers to and believes it is different from the one at the museum. 

"I believe Bill Crawford is correct," Jack Mason, a Ouray native, said. "In 1945 my brother Ed Mason was born in the cabin described on the plaque shown. The cabin was located in the north part of town and east of 550. About where the new bank building is. We lived there until I was about three years old. I have pictures of Ed and me with that cabin and I do not think it is the same cabin that Bill has shown (at the museum). I believe the plaque is on the wrong cabin." 

Crawford said he hopes the information will get corrected, but the other side of the story cannot be told until Paulson does more research on the cabin.