Granary silo in Hayden becomes canvas for new mural

Laramie artist Dan Toro will paint a mural on the side of one of the Hayden Granary's silos. The mural will depict the greater Sandhill crane, a species that spends several months out of each year breeding in Hayden and the Yampa Valley. (Courtesy photo)

HAYDEN — When Patrick and Tammie Delaney purchased the Hayden Granary in 2008, they dreamed of one day having murals painted on the side of the large silos. Now, their vision will come to life thanks to a collaboration between Historic Hayden Granary, Inc. and the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition.

The two Hayden nonprofits have joined forces, and in February, they put out a call to artists to find someone who could paint a large scale mural on the side of one of the silos. The mural will depict the greater Sandhill cranes, a species of crane that spends several months out of each year breeding and staging in Hayden and the surrounding Yampa Valley.

The Yampa Valley Crane Festival holds many of its events in Hayden each year, and Nancy Merrill, co-founder and president of the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition, said the mural will further draw attention to her beloved cranes.

“The town of Hayden plays a big role in the life of the cranes,” Merrill explained. “Public art like this is a great way to raise the crane’s profile and make people more aware of the species and our conservation efforts.”

Granary owner Tammie Delaney said she has been trying to figure out how to put silo art on the Granary for many years. When Paul and Chresta Brinkman, a couple who hold a deep interest in birding and community art, became investors in the Hayden Granary in 2019, the project slowly came to fruition.

“The Granary is so important on a historic level,” Delaney said. “When you add art to that, it gives a whole different level of relevance to what it means to the town.”

The Granary building hosts several local businesses, including Yampa Valley Brewing Co., Wild Goose Coffee and Embers Wood Fired Pizza.

A pair of cranes hang out in a snow-covered wetlands area south of Steamboat Springs. (Photo by John F. Russell)

Merrill said many visitors pass through Hayden on their way in or out of Steamboat Springs, and she hopes the mural will draw their attention to the cranes and will inspire them to learn more about the birds and the area.

And for locals, she hopes it will inspire them to take pride in the area in which they live.

“We are really lucky that these iconic birds — that are not really common — breed and spend about six months in Hayden,” Merrill said. “I’m hoping that the mural will spark conversations about what a beautiful, natural area we have in Hayden and how we need to protect it and keep it a good place for cranes and other wildlife.”

Delaney agrees.

“Something about art draws everyone in,” she said. “It starts a conversation that otherwise would not occur. Hayden is an extraordinary birding region. People from all over the world come here because of the birds. And that’s a conversation that might not occur if it weren’t for the art.”

The mural will be painted by Laramie-based artist Dan Toro, who was chosen for his previous experience in working with large scale pieces.

Delaney said there are many unique challenges associated with the project.

“The shape of the silo is challenging,” she explained. “We had to figure out scaffolding and lifts. Even if you have a lift, most are square and the surface is circular.”

But despite the daunting logistics of the project — and after much research —Toro is set to begin work on the mural Monday. The community is encouraged to come out and watch the mural take shape, a process that is expected to take about two weeks.

The two nonprofits are still raising funds to ensure that both the upper and lower part of the mural can be completed at the same time. Donations to the mural project can be made through the Granary’s website at

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