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Southwest Life Health And the West is History Community Travel

And the West is History: Huck Finn Day – 1955

The Veterans of Foreign Wars and a group of local sportsmen built Huck Finn Pond just east of the state Fish Hatchery in 1955. The pond was built to give local children a place to learn and enjoy fishing. Completed with donations of money and labor from Durango businesses at a cost of $1,500, the 2-acre pond was valued at $9,000 upon completion. This view looking south from the top of the pond shows the large attendance at the first Huck Finn Day held in conjunction with the pond’s dedication. Children 14 years old and younger participated and were required to dress as Huck Finn or Becky Thatcher. Only homemade willow or bamboo poles with no reels or artificial lures could be used. To prevent accidents, hooks could not be attached at the staging area at Viles Park, but only after arrival at the pond. Prizes were given for best costume; most typical American boy and girl; most freckles; as well as first, largest and smallest fish caught. In 1956, a prize was given to the boy with the longest hair – a free haircut at the Sanitary Barber Shop. Various businesses co-sponsored the event with the VFW throughout the years, including The Durango Herald, Gardenswartz Sports and Coca-Cola. The popular event was held annually at this pond through 1967. – Ed Horvat for Animas Museum, edhorvat@animasmuseum.org (Courtesy of La Plata County Historical Society)