I’ve been eager to share this park for almost a year but hesitated, feeling that to do it justice required serious amounts of research. Determined to get started, I reviewed my photos and happily discovered everything necessary to appreciate it is already there.
Here’s a glimpse of the park landscape. The Colonel’s house is the green building in the distance. We’ll get closer in a moment.
You can find plenty more information at this website which – like the park – is extremely well-maintained.
On the day my friend Royce and I visited we encountered three personnel, each of whom contributed to my understanding and appreciation of this historical town. Although it’s fair to compare them to the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future from A Christmas Carol, that does NOT mean I’m Scrooge. If anything, I’m Oliver Twist, because I left saying, “Please, Sir, I want some more.”
Also, please note, no matter what you hear, Allensworth is NOT a ghost town.
We met The Docent right before Royce and I peeked in the windows of the Colonel’s house. Although docents roamed everywhere (all present in the park for Docent Training Day, visiting various buildings to refresh their knowledge, with probably a little partying to follow, but nothing “in-docent,” you know?), The Docent identified us as visitors and struck up a conversation while her posse loaded her walker into their car.
She regaled me and Royce with memories. To be honest, I’ve forgotten her exact history; I believe her mother lived in early, thriving Allensworth, but The Docent experienced it later, while visiting her aunt? Anyway, she recalled the train whistling as it passed, which signaled the time of day.
That struck me – the trains so regular and reliable, they kept time by them!
We subsequently talked with other docents. All of them displayed an admirable personal connection to the
park town that went beyond, “I love my job.” More like, “I love this place.”
Not a nostalgic, “What was,” but a vital, “What is.”
The Ranger also stopped to chat. She’d noted us talking with several docents, and confirmed all our questions were being answered.
She mentioned we could schedule an appointment for another visit to tour (courtesy of her) inside the houses. (The buildings are normally only open to the public a few days of the year.)
Here’s the General Store:
The Ranger’s offer, while generous, seems impractical. Does she offer that to everyone? If not, why us? Because our visit coincided with Docent Training Day and she wanted to thank us for giving them practice? To reward us for our interest? Perhaps the ranger beat has been dreadfully slow in Allensworth lately? Don’t know.
What I do know is how refreshing and relevant I found all things Allensworth. Not museum impersonal, with ossified security guards lurching out of a nap to croak, “Stay behind the red velvet rope!” Or a snide, “If you wanted to touch the exhibits, you should have gone to the Exploratorium!”
Instead, an invitation. “Come walk our streets. See inside these homes.”
Not a distancing, “Them,” but an inclusive, “Us.”
(TO BE CONTINUED)