Summit Historical Society reopens with pop-up exhibit on cartographer Ray Hill |

Summit Historical Society reopens with pop-up exhibit on cartographer Ray Hill

Vintage baseball to be showcased next weekend

These artifacts and old surveying tools of Summit County geological surveyor Ray Hill will be on display at a pop-up exhibit at the Summit Historical Society in Dillon on Saturday, June 20.
Antonio Olivero /

DILLON — As it became apparent the Summit Historical Society would be able to reopen amid the pandemic, President Sally Queen and the society considered the best way to welcome back visitors seeking historical knowledge of Summit County.

The answer was a series of pop-up exhibits outside of the old schoolhouse on LaBonte Street in Dillon. Over the first two weekends of the reopening, the exhibits will be dedicated to sports and the outdoors.

On Saturday, June 20, those walking or driving by will be able to get a glimpse into Summit County’s surveying past with an exhibit dedicated to the museum’s old neighbor Ray Hill, who died in 2012. Hill’s home and the schoolhouse were two of the 11 structures moved up from the old town of Dillon, where Dillon Reservoir now resides. Hill, a revered cartographer for the U.S. Geological Survey, was pivotal in surveying such 14,000-foot Colorado mountains as Elbert, Massive and Harvard.

Summit Historical Society Things to Do

The pop-up exhibits continue on Fridays throughout the summer from 10 a.m. to noon.

The 1883 Schoolhouse will be open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for guided tours. The campus grounds are open for self-guided tours on these days during daylight hours. These tours will feature QR codes, scannable with your mobile device.

Historic Boat Tours on Lake Dillon run Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9–10:30 a.m. To reserve, call the Dillon Marina at (970) 468-5100.

On July 4 and July 5, the Summit Historical Society will host a history walk/hike in Frisco with historical author Charlotte Clarke. Reservations are required by Thursday, July 2. Register online or call (970) 468-2207. Reserve early as the event is limited to 10 people.

When Queen was thinking about what kind of exhibits featuring three-dimensional relics would be ideal for people to view from a distance, it led her to the artifacts Hill donated nine years ago, just a year before his death at age 91.

If you look at the museum’s tags on Hill’s old binoculars or field manuals, there are three numbers. The first is the year he donated, the second signifies how many items had been donated up until that point that year and the last is the number of artifacts he donated. Queen finds it interesting that the museum’s neighbor donated so much shortly before he died.

“He donated them to his neighbors, and he made a big deal about the fact that he donated them to his neighbors,” she said.

“To the kids today, these look ancient,” Queen added. “(They might think), ‘Why wouldn’t you just send a drone up?’ They can see everything from his binoculars to his field kit and learn how he would go up and camp for two months and do this surveying, which is what set up the whole 14er thing of, ‘Let’s go hike it!'”

Queen said the fact that Hill chose to stay in Summit when Dillon residents were forced to move their houses is a symbol of his commitment to the area. His home is still there, as are the dozens of prized possessions Hill donated to the museum that are either on display or in his file. If you’d like to see more, Queen and the museum staff are happy to go into the archives to fetch additional artifacts for you.

“We thought it might appeal to kids who were on Zoom or online this spring,” Queen said. “With the ending of school, we can put it in a tent out there in the parking lot, and if people are not comfortable coming into the enclosed building, they can just drive by.”

When they drive by, they’ll see Hill’s tripod surveyor’s table, atop which the museum has laid out the relics including his most prized equipment.

“These were the most personal things that he wanted to make sure told his story into the future” Queen said.

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