Jack Oleson is a man who values local history. Oleson, 88, has spent most of his life in Eagle County. A life-long collector of antiques and artifacts, he has created a fascinating private museum near his home on the Diamond Star Ranch a few miles east of Eagle.
Oleson also spent hundreds of hours restoring historic buildings that are now located in the upper territory of that ranch. The restoration work often required dismantling, then reconstructing log buildings. The completed projects include a historic schoolhouse, complete with antique desks and a mannequin schoolmarm. He also restored the Cowden and Howl family homestead cabins, as well as the Oleson family cabin that his parents occupied near Gypsum when he was born. He is undoubtedly the only person in the county with a restored Conestoga covered wagon in his garage.
The Eagle Valley Library District and the Eagle County Historical Society will honor Oleson with the Nimon-Walker Award at a ceremony on April 28 at the Eagle Public Library. The award, established in 2001, recognizes individuals whose work has helped preserve the history of Eagle County.
"Jack has been an invaluable information source for us. He is always generous in sharing his knowledge," said Historical Society President Kathy Heicher.
She noted that Oleson knows the county well, having grown up in Gypsum and ranched at what is now Eagle-Vail. He also operated the Eagle Freight Line trucking business.
Eagle Public Library Archivist Jaci Spuhler noted that information and photos provided by Oleson were essential in establishing archives for the town of Gypsum's centennial celebration in 2011.
In addition to presentation of the award, the Nimon-Walker event will feature keynote speaker Dr. Thomas Noel. Nicknamed "Dr. Colorado," Noel is a well-known Colorado historian. He is a Professor of History and Director of Public History, Preservation and Colorado Studies at the University of Colorado Denver. Noel is also the author of numerous Colorado history books and a columnist for the Denver Post. He also leads historic tours for History Colorado and the Smithsonian Institution. For the Nimon-Walker Award presentation, Dr. Noel will present a program featuring historic landmarks along the Colorado River.