When French fur trappers entered the Yampa Valley in the late 1820’s, they thought they heard the chugging sound of a Steamboat’s engine. It was actually a natural mineral spring making the noise, but the name “Steamboat” stuck. As more settlers moved westward, a man by the name of James Harvey Crawford arrived in the area in 1874 who later became the founder of Steamboat Springs in 1900.
Before Steamboat became the world famous Ski town, it was a ranching and mining community, both of which continue to play a considerable role in the local economy. Skiing was actually just a method of transportation in the harsh Colorado winters, until a Norwegian by the name of Carl Howelsen came to town in 1913. Howelsen introduced ski jumping, turning it into a major sport that would become synonymous with Steamboat Springs.
If you’re interested in the History of Steamboat Springs, then the Tread of Pioneers Museum is a must see. One of their more popular recurring events is the Behind the Scenes Tours of Collections; it’s a free tour for small groups that takes you into the museum’s extensive collection of artifacts that aren’t on display. The Behind the Scenes tours are held twice a month, and always occur on a Monday to Friday basis.
Another reoccurring event worth checking out is the History Happy Hours. This cost-free event is held at the Butcherknife Brewery on the first Tuesday of every month from October through April. The focus of the talks will be the mysteries, legends, lore, debauchery, conflicts, wars, crimes, lawless, and lawmen of the Wild West. Topics have included: “Brooklyn: Steamboat’s Red Light District,” “Routt County’s Cattle and Sheep Range Wars,” “Outlaws and Lawmen of Routt County,” “Crimes and Conflicts in Routt County History,” and more.
For an in depth look at some of the wild and uncanny pieces of history, check out Free Historical Tours of Steamboat: My Place, My Home. Led by local tour guide and historian Marianne Capra, these tours explore some of the more unusual stories of Steamboat.
If you want to see some of the more popular exhibits, click here for a virtual tour!
Additional Links for Tread of Pioneers
- Click here for a list of annual Tread of Pioneers events
- Click here for a list of Tours and Seasonal Programs
- Click here for a list of Past Tours and Programs
- Click here for information on Heritage Around the Region