Treasures Found Driving Along the Eastern Plains
By: Hollie Perry
Crosley and Nash. Those names may sound somewhat familiar. You’re probably going through your brain right now. Are they classic rockers… cars? Well, you could easily jam out to a Crosby, Stills and Nash song while driving one of these cars that are on display at The Orphanage in Yuma, CO.
Crosley and Nash are two of many cars featured in this classic automobile museum. I have been to a couple venues like the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles and that’s where I would expect to find these types of exhibits, in a major metropolitan area. So, it was surprising to learn about The Orphanage out in northeastern Colorado about 45 minutes from the Nebraska border.
They are unique names and Crosley and Nash are unique cars. They are two of many vehicles that are no longer manufactured from companies that are no longer around, therefore making them, orphan cars. There are a couple early 20th century vehicles on display too whose companies are still in business, like Ford, but whose models are also not manufactured anymore, like Model-T’s.
Ronald Wenger is one of the co-owners. He helped founded the event space in 2018 namely because he was running out of room at Ron’s Car Care across the street. What started with a 1951 Plymouth has grown into an eclectic and colorful collection and Ron and Richard are not only incredibly friendly but do a lot to support the community as well.
The mid-century building where the event space resides looks like it was made for them. Windows stretch along the north and east side of the building putting the automobiles on full display. Along the walls hang quilts for a silent auction to benefit Giving Hands of Yuma County, a non-profit that aims to help families during the holidays as well those with health issues or that have been caught up in natural disasters during the year. Three quilts are on display here and a few more are at the Rustic ‘n Elegant boutique in Wray, CO, which is 30 minutes up the road. According to Richard, they participate in charitable events a lot, including a giving tree, so kids can have a nice Christmas later in December.
They also have a rotating art gallery. Currently, two Denver artists, Kathleen Umemoto and Richard Farley have displays, which the gallery entitled, “Abstract & Form.” Their art is featured down the center of the venue where tables usually sit for events.
Hopefully next year The Orphanage will be able to have events again including more artists.
So far, the venue has hosted many 50th Anniversary parties, a 100th birthday party and the local high school prom. They look forward to doing more weddings, receptions, fundraisers and parties in the future.
And what a place to host! The variety of colorful, classic cars are just waiting to be posed with in a photo. It makes for a fun evening and yes, they also make a nice ride down the road too. The pink 1960 Rambler American travelled east for a wedding last year and the blue 1951 Nash Rambler up to the northern United States.
Ron and Richard keep the cars on two lane highways but it’s always a fun ride. They rarely participate in car shows, so this is the place to see them, in a nice, weather-controlled space with a rotating display.
Enticing passersby to come inside is the car at the front of the building. A creamy, yellow 1932 Plymouth Model PB Roadster, on loan from the Forney Museum of Transportation in Denver.
It sits on a rotating platform and is one of the many cars that will be brought through the museum from the Front Range of Colorado.
Yuma native, Ronald Wegner, was elected to the Board of Directors at the Forney Museum this last summer because of his knowledge and love of cars, so Forney partnered the eastern Colorado museum. The Forney has one of the largest collections of many types of moving vehicles in the country. What’s unique about The Orphanage though is the personal experience you get. While there, another couple dropped in and the owners took the time to visit with each of us, show us around the space as well as give us more information on the collection and discuss the venue more.
There are more than just large cars too, there are model cars on display and classic hood ornaments, each a work of art in and of itself and, for events, a grand piano is ready for use giving the space an urban feel in a rural town. This is a place I would expect to see in movies where the characters chat over a cocktail or even a fundraiser in Denver, but with the friendliness of small town. Every detail brings more character to the space from the muraled and license plate wallpaper to the hub cap light fixtures on the exposed brick that Ron created. Richard pointed out the gift shop too for that car person in your life, including yourself, that has coffee cups, hats, books and tire gauges for sale. Fun souvenirs to remember your time feeling part of the classic car family at The Orphanage.
300 Main Street
Yuma, CO 80759
Tuesday – Saturday 10:00am to 4:00 pm
Sunday – 1:00pm to 4:00pm
*Please note COVID-19 mask requirement for entry in 2020/21*
Hollie Perry is a Colorado native whose family comes from the Northeastern part of the state. She loves writing, history, shopping and good food and is excited to explore and share the hidden gems that rural America has to offer.
Discover Rural is a website dedicated to events, shopping, history, exploring, eating and sleeping primarily in rural parts of Colorado, plus Southeast Wyoming and Nebraska Panhandle. DiscoverRural.com