Troublesome Stories – Art & Artifacts from the East Troublesome Fire

Troublesome Stories : Art & Artifacts from the East Troublesome Fire

Thank you for supporting the Troublesome Stories Exhibit in Grand Lake. The exhibit is now closed, but a mini display is permanently installed at the Grand Lake Chamber and Visitor’s Center located at the entrance to Town.

Troublesome Stories Press Release

When the East Troublesome Fire crossed HWY 125 and rushed through the forests and neighborhoods surrounding Grand Lake our community erupted in turmoil and chaos. With only minutes to flee, residents were faced with leaving their homes behind, not knowing if there would be anything to return to. Our community is still experiencing waves of grief – for the loss for our neighbors, the loss of our landscape, and for the loss of life.

Grand County is a resilient community, with residents that show up for each other, mourn with each other and help one another rebuild. As we approach our first summer season, we recognize the need for education and kindness in our community, especially when we begin welcoming guests. Unfortunately many Grand Lake residents lost homes and businesses in this fire, and while they are prepping for a busy summer, they are dreading the curiosity and questions that will inevitably come from travellers. With this at heart, The Grand Lake Chamber has partnered with Thomas Cooper and Studio 8369 to install a temporary exhibit to educate viewers about the personal impact of the fire in our community.

We’re proud to announce the exhibit:

Troublesome Stories: Art & Artifacts From The East Troublesome Fire. This in person immersive display will be available for free to the public in mid June, with opening dates being announced later this month. Thomas Cooper, with Lightbox Images, was on site during the October 21st blaze and captured nearly 9,000 images of the fire and the following aftermath. We will be displaying 40 of his images, alongside stories and artifacts recovered from residents. Our intent is to provide a glimpse into our community’s loss in a respectful and dignified way in order to educate guests on the human element of a wildfire as well as push the importance behind fire prevention, especially as a guest in a mountain destination.

What we need to make this work:

Your Stories. We need to share personal insights and narratives from Grand County Residents that evacuated from the fire. These stories will be displayed with Thomas Cooper’s images.The Storytellers are welcome to share a photo or memento alongside their narrative. Stories are key in educating viewers in the heaviness our community is experiencing.

Your Recovered Artifacts. So much was lost in this fire, much more than trees and trails. We want our viewers to feel the weight of this community’s loss and our resilient spirit of strength. One of the most powerful things we hope to display are items our residents have unearthed in the ashes. These items will be displayed in enclosed glass cases with stories or personal photographs if the owner would like to do so. This is a loan, not a gift. Items will be handled and displayed with utmost care and respect.

Your Support. We need to raise funds in order to cover hard costs of this exhibit, such as printing costs, display cases and collateral for the fire prevention display. If you feel inclined, any donation will be used respectfully to cover these expenses. Any funds raised over what is needed to cover hard costs will be donated to a wildfire prevention non-profit to help residents with recovery and fire mitigation. If you’d like to made a donation towards the hard costs of the Exhibit please click this link, or you can send a check to the Grand Lake Chamber PO BOX 429, Grand Lake Colorado 80447.

Your Time. Troublesome Stories will only be open with a Chamber staff person or volunteer on site. We recognize the extreme importance of the exhibit being a powerful and serious place, and we believe our display deserves to have someone on site at all times to ensure the exhibit is being treated with honor. Please call 970-627-3402 or email to volunteer at the Exhibit.

Troublesome Stories is one step towards reclaiming the Troublesome name. In the future, Troublesome will stand for resilience, strength, healing and community. We hope our exhibit is a tool that helps our community heal, and one that leaves guests with an understanding and reverence for communities with high fire danger. Rising above the fire is different for each member of this community, and we are dedicated to lifting each other up as we continue to heal.

If you’d like to be involved in this project please contact Emily Hagen at or 970-627-3402