Tim Nicklas saying good-bye to Grand County Historical Association

photo by Kim Cameron Hot Sulphur Springs Pioneer Museum Executive Director, Tim Nicklas, navigates the museum's storage to retrieve files. Nicklas is taking a new position in Encampment, Wyoming.
photo by Kim Cameron Hot Sulphur Springs Pioneer Museum Executive Director, Tim Nicklas, navigates the museum's storage to retrieve files. Nicklas is taking a new position in Encampment, Wyoming.

Tim Nicklas is turning his focus to the history of Encampment, Wyoming as he prepares for his next adventure as Executive Director of the Grand Encampment Museum.

For the past eight years, Tim Nicklas has served as Grand County’s historian and expert within his role as the director of the Pioneer Museum in Hot Sulphur Springs.

From Kremmling to Winter Park, Nicklas always had a passion for the events and people in the county. As a history major, Nicklas actively wrote articles for the Winter Park Manifest and was fascinated with the connections of history. For instance, Virginia Cornell was the publisher of the Winter Park Manifest and also wrote a book about Doc Susie.

Nicklas used the Grand County Historical Association (GCHA) museums for much of his research during this time and now takes pride that he has memorized all the different collections in the museum.

Nicklas began his relationship with the GCHA as a volunteer before being hired as the curator for the Hot Sulphur Springs Museum. Nicklas acutely remembers being a history junkie as early as second grade when he had to get special librarian permission to check-out hard-bound history books about prominent historical figures. He also enjoyed reading encyclopedias front to back, and interviewed his great grandparents and grandparents as a primary source of history.

Parenting four kids in Grand County also gave him opportunities to weave his passion into school lessons as he volunteered. His youngest daughter’s 4th grade class created a detailed activity book for the Fraser River Trail.

This keen interest served him well in his role with the Grand County Historical Association as he actively provided information and resources for universities, authors, publications and TV producers who were researching Grand County. Among his many credits, he has been acknowledged as a resource in books, appeared in documentaries and radio, and even had the privilege of writing a forward for the book, Lost Ski Areas of Colorado’s Front Range and the Northern Mountains.

Nicklas also has many landmark celebrations under his belt. The first celebration was the Centennial Celebration of the Winter Sports Carnival in Hot Sulphur Springs. The six week celebration in 2011 reenacted the Howelsen and Schmidt trek across Corona Pass. It also included a cross-country ski trek from YMCA over Cottonwood Pass into Hot Sulphur Springs, ice sculptures, a snowboarding terrain park, fireworks, all complete with a beer garden, food and commemorative items.

From the celebration, Senator Randy Baumgardner sponsored a successful house resolution to recognize Hot Sulphur Springs as the official birthplace of the Colorado ski industry in 2012.

Nicklas coordinated the event with Winter Park Resort which led Nicklas to author their book for Winter Park’s 75th celebration, Winter Park Resort: 75 years of Imagining More which was given the 2015 Skade Award by the International Skiing History Association.

Through his research, Nicklas has also been able to disprove accepted facts of Grand County’s history as well as Colorado’s history. In one instance, GCHA board member and researcher Barb Mitchell and Nicklas discovered that Parshall was actually named after Clyde Parshall instead of Ralph Parshall which had been widely accepted. Nicklas also found newspaper clippings of the true fate of the ghost town of Arrow from the Middle Park Times in 1915.

GCHA board member, Mitchell says, “Tim is going to walk out that door with a lot of our history in his head. We are going to miss him.”

Nicklas says he hopes he leaves, “a greater appreciation of our communities’ place beyond Grand County. Our history is significant with Colorado ski history, Moffatt Tunnel, William Byers was the first editor of the Rocky Mountain News and founder of Hot Sulphur Springs, and the Powell Expedition was planned from Grand County.”

He will miss collaborations with other museums around the state and daily interactions with guests to museum, but he assures he will stay in touch with Kremmling and will always serve as a resource for Grand County history buffs.

The Grand County Historical Association also recently saw the retirement of Kristi Martens from the Cozens Museum in Fraser. Martens’ position is expected to be filled by Erica Rodenbeck by the beginning of May. Rodenbeck will be moving from Wisconsin and has a strong background in museum work.