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Your top destination to learn about Steamboat Springs history! Your top destination to learn about Steamboat Springs history!
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Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 AM - 5 PM
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800 Oak St. Steamboat Springs, CO 80487

Steam Rails to Ski Trails: An Architectural Walking Tour of Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Springs is a modest town. It never had a period of explosive gold-rush growth, as so many other Colorado mountain towns did. It never added 10,000 residents in one year, never produced multimillion-dollar fortunes overnight. But if it lacked the spectacular booms, it also avoided the devastating busts that left other communities’ Main Streets in shambles. And Steamboat Springs did enjoy some distinct growth spurts. The first occurred after 1884, when town founder James Crawford (standing in the center of this photograph) and Boulder investors formed the Steamboat Springs Town Site Company. They promoted the Yampa Valley’s boundless pastures and rich coal deposits, along with the mineral springs themselves. Within a few years the city had a newspaper, bank, hotel, stagecoach line, and library, plus a few churches and a smattering of stores. Most of those 19th-century buildings are no longer here; only one — the Springs Drug Store (now Harwig Grill) at 911 Lincoln — appears in this volume.

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Suggested corrections to Steamrails to Ski Trails by James H. Crawford

p5 last sentence: the Springs Drug Store was torn down in 1962, and Harwig's was built in 1901. The only 19th-century building on Lincoln Ave. is the Steamboat Smokehouse, which was built in 1899 by the Hugus Company (the first non-wood building on Lincoln Ave). There are plenty of other 19th century buildings on Oak St, Pine St, Crawford Ave, 12th St, etc., one of which was built on Lincoln Ave but moved to Pine St, but all of them were built as residences and none of them are in this booklet.

p15 (Victoria Building) "... sat vacant until some time in the 1910s..." No. There were two small buildings at this corner by 1902. One of them served as the home and office of county surveyor W. I. Hoklas until it was moved in 1919 to prepare for a filling station built in 1920 by John Kroll.

p16 (Lorenz Building) The first two paragraphs and first sentence of the 3rd paragraph apply to the building next door!! The VFW building at 924 Lincoln was built in 1901 as a warehouse for the Hugus Company, and was the 2nd building built by Hugus (the stone building at 912 Lincoln was the 1st building built by Hugus. Note that there were two wooden buildings before the stone/brick buildings that Hugus bought from Dunfield, and eventually moved away). [The confusion probably arose because there is an earlier photograph that looks like it only shows 2 Hugus buildings, with presumably the 2-story building on the left that is obviously the Lorenz building being the second warehouse building. However Hugus put an awning across their first two buildings to make them look like they are just one building, so the 2-story building is the third building.] So this should either be fixed by just replacing those two paragraphs with something about this building, or all three Hugus-built buildings should be featured, which might be hard to do on just one page, although the photograph on p17 does show all three buildings. [Actually all 4 buildings; see my comments on p19 about the Model Shoe building.]

Info on the Lorenz building: built in 1903 with brick from the Trogler brickyard by Fish Creek and Yampa River. The 1st floor held the Sentinel newspaper for six years, and other offices. The second floor was a large space called Hugus Hall that was used in the next decade for dances, plays, and social gatherings by various organizations such as the Woodmen of the World, the Congregational Church, Episcopal Sunday School, the I.O.O.F. Lodge meetings, and political conventions. The County claimed the building in December 1912.

p18 (Harwig's): This is another of the major mistakes! The drugstore opened in another building built in 1888 3 doors to the west. That building was torn down in 1962. This building was built in 1901 by Aultman and McWilliams for the City Meat Market run by Aultman. In 1914 Riley Armstrong moved his harness shop into the building. Charles Harwig then bought the business in 1920. [This is tied with the Hugus brick building at 924 Lincoln as the 2nd oldest building on Lincoln Ave, and is the oldest wooden building on Lincoln Ave.]

p19 (Model Shoe): This is the 4th building built by the Hugus company. It was built in 1916 as an office building, and rented to James Brobeck, who was the Hugus manager at the time. Brobeck bought the building from Hugus in 1926. It held insurance and real estate offices until 1937 when Louis Thomas, proprietor of the Model Shoe shop, bought the building and moved his store there.

p20 (Maxwell Building): The brick yard was just north of where Fish Creek joins the Yampa River. So "Elk River clay" isn't accurate. When the building opened in 1909, the three major tenants on the first floor were the post office, the Milner Bank, and the Chamberlain-Gray Drug store, with various offices and doctors on the second floor. Chamberlain's father bought the building in 1920. So the building has housed a drug store since it was built.

p22 (Furlong): His creamery business was at 824 Lincoln, not 803. Gold Coin Creamery moved from 824 Lincoln to 803 Lincoln [actually 8th street] in 1936

p30 (Pioneer Hotel): The current 3-story brick building was built in 1923 as an addition to the wooden Bartz Hotel, that stood 30 feet from the front of the lot. The wooden building burned in 1929, and the back half of the lot is still empty land (parking).

p31 (Barnum): This makes for interesting reading about the Mutual Theater fire, the funeral parlor, and the roller-skating rink, but unfortunately 2 separate buildings have been mixed up in this account. The Barnum building was located 4 buildings to the east of this building. After the roller-skating rink it housed a car garage, followed by 30 years of offices before being torn down in 1955 to build the Dairy Queen building. The current building at 734 Lincoln was the Williamson building. After Barnum and Williamson broke up their partnership in 1912, Williamson built this building where he ran a general mercantile store. In 1920 he sold the store to John W. Daugherty, and retired to Longmont [he was never an auto dealer]. In 1924, Arthur Jackson bought the building and opened up the Jackson Style Shop. That was followed by the Rapin Jewelry store in 1932, and the Steamboat cafe and beer parlor in 1936. After 3 years and 3 owners and the repeal of the liquor clause in Steamboat property deeds, the beer parlor turned into a liquor store: Martin Liquor (1939), Lucky Liquor (1956), and the Bottleneck (1970). The 2nd floor of the building was always an apartment where usually the owner's family lived. That apartment was converted in 1973 to offices and/or retail space. The balcony out front was a favorite place to watch parades, and even served as the judges' stand for the 1935 4th of July parade.

p32 (Campbell): The building opened with the post office as its main tenant. The hotel came later, first the Royal hotel followed by the Albany hotel. It wasn't a mining exchange, but the "Mining Exchange Curio & Cigar Co." I never saw any reference to it being a movie theater, just a pool hall.

p36 (Schaffnit House): "long-term occupation" --> "long-term occupancy". Also the house was built in 1904, not 1908, so Schaffnit was 71 years old, not 75. He lived in the house 8 years, and the initial newspaper report said the building would cost $8,000 to build, so the sentence about "he turned a nice profit..." should be omitted.

p38 (Morning House): the house was built in 1906 by George Wither, who sold it to Judge Morning in 1919. Dr. Willett lived in it after 1939.

p40 (Museum): Zimmerman residence was built in 1901 by Ernest Cambell. E.H. Zimmerman bought the house in 1914. The Utterback home was built in 1898 for C. A. Seymour, the manager of the Hugus Co. store in Steamboat.

p42. (St. Paul's): The 2-story addition was built in 1960.

p43. (Schaffnit addition): The river rock addition was built by Shelburne in October 1923. The grocery store was sold in 1960, and the Cantina started in 1973.

p44. (Carver Power House): The original wooden power house was built in 1901 by George Smedley. W. E. Carver replaced it in 1906 with the current brick power plant.

p46. (Laundry): The original 2-story brick building at the back was built in 1906. The 2-story brick addition on the street was built in 1913, and the 1-story addition along the creek was built in 1919. The river-rock structure at the back along the alley was part of the 1919 addition.

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Tribal Lands Acknowledgement
The Board and Staff of the Tread of Pioneers Museum respectfully acknowledge the Ute people, the original inhabitants of Northwest Colorado, and other Indigenous Nations of this area where we now reside. We recognize that the establishment of this region impacted the lifeways of Native peoples and their communities. In accepting this, we are called to utilize this educational institution to teach stewardship of the land and continuing commitment to the inclusion and respect of these Nations and their traditional values for their homelands.