Happy Economic Development Week, Gunnison Country!

The theme for the Economic Development Council of Colorado’s 2024 Economic Development Week is “Narrative Economics: The Power of Storytelling.” And boy oh boy does Hartman Castle have some stories to tell! Be sure to follow us all week long (May 6-10) on Facebook and Instagram for more discussions on Hartman Castle and economic development.

The Hartman Castle was built in 1892 by one of Gunnison’s founders Alonzo Hartman and wife Annie. The castle is an important landmark in our Gunnison community. It is important because it is old, sure, but what really makes the castle so vital for preservation are the stories it represents. The stories represented by Hartman Castle are foundational in this preservation project aimed at developing the local community and economy. Alonzo Hartman’s stories are multifaceted and complex, just like modern day Gunnison and the western slope of Colorado.

Alonzo Hartman Stories

Hartman was one of the original pioneers to live in western Colorado. His journey to settlement includes some incredible stories. Hartman was not only a cattleman, but one of the first in the area. He was instrumental in developing Gunnison as a town, served as the first postman, and was one of two men who ran the first town store. Hartman also had a hand in acquiring funding for the first paid schoolteachers in the valley.

Alonzo Hartman’s stories are the stories during which Gunnison was created. He set the foundational values of hard work and perseverance that still resonate throughout the modern town. Those same foundational values are what drive our small but mighty local economy today.

Community Development and Heritage Tourism

We believe the preservation of Hartman Castle will create further opportunities for community development in the Gunnison area. The stories of Hartman are the stories that unite rural towns on the western slope. Blue jeans, mustaches, and cowboy boots—these are symbols that continue to represent Gunnison. They are symbols of toughness and grit, two things that it takes to live through Gunnison winters, even with all our modern amenities today.

Further, cattle and cattle ranching continue to be a vital part of the Gunnison community. Just look at one of the town’s largest events, Cattlemen’s Days. An event in which Alonso Hartman had a hand in creating. With the preservation of the Hartman Castle comes the preservation of the earliest stories of Gunnison. By keeping these stories alive, residents of Gunnison Country can further develop a sense of place with the land on which they live.

Alonzo Hartman’s stories represent the old west, or Western Americana. When people visit places like Gunnison, they want to learn the stories of pioneers and cowboys and they want to experience a taste of that history. For instance, the story of how Hartman spent two months traveling 75 miles with over a herd of over 2000 cattle. Stories like these are uniquely American, unique to their time, and unique to the development of tourism in local areas. These stories are why preserving Hartman Castle will assist in local economic development through heritage tourism. When folks visit Gunnison on vacation, Hartman Castle will be a must-see site.

The Role of Hartman Castle in a Thriving Local Economy

Hartman Castle Preservation Corporation has a goal to restore the Hartman Castle and preserve it as a space for community building and heritage tourism. We want to bring the legacy of Alonzo Hartman to life and use his legacy to build community and attract new visitors to Gunnison. In doing so, it is our hope to bolster our local economy and help Gunnison thrive into the future. You can join our efforts by becoming a donor or volunteer today!