When President Barack Obama visits Grand Junction this Saturday it will be the seventh time that a sitting president has made an appearance in the Grand Valley.
Some presidents have spent as little at 15 minutes in the area while others stayed for the whole day. The last time President Obama spoke on the Western Slope he was still a senator.
This time he will speak as the president. And he will do that almost a century after William Taft made the first visit ever to Grand Junction by a president.
The year was 1909, Taft opened the head gate to the Gunnison tunnel in Montrose, and then he traveled to Grand Junction. Taft used the trip to speak at the old county fairgrounds as part of the peach day festival. "He wasn't campaigning it wasn't just a routine 15 minute stop," says, Museum of Western Colorado Curator Zebulon Miracle. Grand Junction wouldn't see another president until Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed through on July 12th of 1938.
Miracle says, "His train arrived just on time he was only expected to speak for a whole two minutes but he ended up being at the platform for 15 minutes because he had a long distance phone call from Washington." The next two presidents to the area would spend about the same amount of time.
Truman made an appearance in 1948 on a whistle stop campaign and Eisenhower flew into Walker Field in 1954. It would be a 20 year wait for the city until Gerald Ford spoke at Lincoln Park. Miracle says, "He actually crowned the Mesa State College Homecoming queen during that."
The last president in Mesa County was George H. Bush. Who gave a speech at the old county courthouse to around 10,000 people. Miracle says, "He spent a large portion of the morning at Two Rivers Convention Center working on an education reform bill."
This next presidential visit will mark a historic trip to the area by Obama. Who is expected to talk about health care reform. Miracle says, "This will be a crucial bill for him if it fails or succeeds and so having that be the highlights of his visit out here is extremely historically significant." and could mark Grand Junction as a key stop for future presidents.
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