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Tread of Pioneers Museum Blog

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Throwback Thursday! Celebrate Women's History Month

March 14th, 2019
Throwback Thursday! To celebrate women's history month, we pay tribute to all of the Routt County women who have helped make this corner of the world such a wonderful place. Pictured here is Margaret Bourne Crawford (1840-1939), wife of the founder of Steamboat Springs, James Harvey Crawford.
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Collections Spotlight: The Moffat Tunnel

February 28th, 2019
In February of 1928 the Moffat Tunnel was completed. The 6.2 mile railroad tunnel that passes under the Continental Divide, connects Gilpin and Grand counties, and made available an array of opportunities for the citizens in Steamboat Springs.
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Collection Spotlight: Pioneer Christmas Memories

December 20th, 2018
Mary Crawford King left a written record of the first Christmas gathering in Steamboat Springs in 1877. Those who attended were Mr. and Mrs. James H. Crawford, their children, and Mr. and Mrs. S.D.N. Bennett.

On this occasion there was a small tree strung with ropes of popcorn and paper cornucopias which Mrs. Bennett had made and decorated with pictures and pink ribbons. The cornucopias were filled with Mrs. Crawford's homemade candies and raisins.
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Collection Spotlight - Throwback Thursday - New Special Election Exhibit now on display!

November 2nd, 2018
85 years ago, Colorado residents were voting to repeal Prohibition in this Special Election. After the votes were cast and counted, ratification was set in motion to end the dry times in Colorado. Prohibition went into effect in 1915, but by 1930 it was clear that Coloradoan’s opinion of Prohibition was shifting. People were realizing that prohibiting liquor was costing jobs and tax revenues. The 1933 election ratified the repeal amendment. Source: Denver Post, 2013
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Collection Spotlight - Throwback Thursday - Honor Roll of Routt County

October 24th, 2018
Throwback Thursday! In light of our newest exhibit, "Honor Roll of Routt County," an exhibit honoring the American Legion and the courageous citizens from Routt County who served in WW I, we bring you this story:

“A Routt County Boy” (Denver Post, Aug, 20, 1918)

It isn’t all brag! Life out of doors, the tussle with nature, the life training one gets from contact with first principles, does put something in the heart and the bones that isn’t acquired in the older, crowded tine-worn earth sections. Victor Chergo gives a concrete case.

We who know the West and understand how Victor Chergo grew up not to be afraid of bear, or wildcats, or mountain lions, suspect that he was familiar with the mechanism of a rifle by the time he knew his A, B, Cs; that he could “coon” a fallen log or jump a creek, climb a cliff or ride a snowslide almost as soon as he could walk; rough it with the best of them at 10; sleep out of doors, ride a horse, rope a steer and round up wild mustangs before he was out of his teens; could bluff a cattle rustler or stand off a gun man before he could vote. Therefore, his friends are not surprised that Victor Chergo has made Uncle Sam something of a first-class fighting man.
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Collections Spotlight: Remembering the Late Bill May of Elk River

September 27th, 2018
“Two Horsepower” by Bill May

Mighty fine tractor there, Pardner. Two hundred horsepower, you say? Makes my horses seem sort of shabby, But they work if I just feed ‘em hay.

Guess two horses would just be two horsepower, But we haul six tons of feed every day; Though we stop now and then, for a “breather” While we admire the sights ‘long the way.

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Throwback Thursday! Tread of Pioneers Museum Publishes Historical Books

June 8th, 2018
Throwback Thursday! Did you know that the Tread of Pioneers Museum publishes historical books and recently transcribed the memoir of Louis Summer (Vernon's dad)?
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Throwback Thursday Collections Spotlight: Don Lufkin’s Saddle.

May 31st, 2018
Donated to the Tread of Pioneers Museum in 1998 by Donald Lufkin.

According to the Lufkin family, this saddle was only the second saddle Don ever used – the first being his father’s old saddle. The Lufkin family understood the value and need for quality horses, saddles and harnesses. Lufkin likely purchased the saddle from Harwig’s saddlery in Steamboat Springs. The saddle was made by the Powder River Co. in Denver.

Lufkin was a noted local rancher, investor, philanthropist and community donor who grew up on a ranch east of Steamboat Springs. He attended the one-room Mesa schoolhouse and Steamboat Springs High School, and served two years in the Navy during World War II. In 1950, Lufkin purchased his family ranch from his parents and spent the next 30 years running a Grade A dairy and beef cattle operation. After the death of his wife Eleanor in 1977, Lufkin turned over the ranch to his daughter and continued his real estate business. Lufkin passed away in 2012.
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Collections Spotligh - Rotary dial telephone

May 24th, 2018
Rotary dial telephone. In 1900, a telephone line from Meeker, CO brought service to Steamboat Springs, a distance of approximately 90 miles. For some time, only one phone existed in town and was located at the Hugus Mercantile store on Lincoln Avenue. Those wishing to make a call had to wait in line. The Yampa Valley Electric Association formed in 1940 and electrification of the rural areas occurred in 1941. Rotary telephones replaced the need for a manual operator. Users could now enter a phone number and call independently from phone to phone. Although invented much earlier, rotary telephones were most popular from the 1930s through the 1980s.
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Collection Spotlight - Throwback Thursday - Western Saddle & Baseball Uniform

May 18th, 2018
Western saddle, 1905 - This saddle was purchased by local cattleman, expert horseman, roper, and businessman, Frank Squire. Squire bought the Heiser company saddle in Denver in 1905 when he was fifteen years old. For over twenty years, Squire worked for the famous cattleman, J.L. Norvell, then he went on to run his own successful cattle operation. Squire was the State Brand Inspector for nearly twenty years. He owned several locally famous horses, including the infamous bucking bronc, General Pershing.

Boys Market Baseball Uniform - White cotton flannel child's baseball uniform with blue trim and "Boys Mkt" in blue letters across the back of the jersey. Baseball team was sponsored by the "Boys Market," a grocery store located at 9th and Oak St. in Steamboat Springs. #tbt
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Throwback Thursday! New items on display from The Pleasant Collection of Native American Art at the Tread of Pioneers Museum

May 11th, 2018
1. Navajo Saddle Blanket (Circa 1910-1920)

Rain Symbol design. Instead of being placed between the saddle and the horse, this decorative type of saddle blanket was draped on top of the saddle. Material: Handspun, aniline-dyed wool. Donated by: F. Carpenter

2. Ute gauntlets, Circa 1880s
Members of the local Ute tribe gave these gloves to Mrs. James H. (Margaret) Crawford as a gift. The Crawford family and the Utes had a brief but friendly relationship.

More about the Pleasant Collection of Native American Art: Farrington and Eunice Carpenter generously donated 12 peice collection of Edward S. Curtis Photogravures to the Tread of Pioneers Museum in 1961. Eunice’s nephew, Richard Pleasant had recently bequeathed the collection of photogravures and numerous Native American artifacts to the Carpenters. Pleasant, founder of the American Ballet Theatre, and his father, “Johnny,” had assembled the collection over the years. The Pleasant family had been visible Northwestern, Colorado residents since 1918, settling in Maybell. #tbt
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Throwback Thursday! This just in at the museum!

April 12th, 2018
John Warren Richardson's camping trip through the Colorado Rockies in 1898. Read the full document here (Routt Co. section begins on page 12): Click Here

Here is a snippet to whet your whistle! "Morning dawned clear and cold, water freezing in our tent. We found ourselves six miles from Steamboat Springs, the road leading through the beautiful Bear River Valley with its wide smooth fields of oats, wheat, and hay, bordered on each side by mountains bare of timber. Steamboat Springs is a lively little place, the center of trade for a wide section of country, with a bank and two or three good stores. After laying in a stock of provisions and articles which we needed before departing from civilization, we visited the springs which have given the place its name. The largest one that we saw, came bubbling up through a ledge of rocks in the bank of the river. One of them, puffing and gurgling at intervals of two or three seconds, making a noise like a small steamboat, probably accounts for the name of Steamboat Springs. The water in most of the springs is strongly impregnated with Sulphur, quite disagreeable to drink, and the odor of the gas continually arising from them is noticeable for a considerable distance. The water in those we tasted was about milk warm. In strong contrast is a fine cold soda spring, only a few rods away, which is quite pleasant to the taste. There are one hundred forty of these mineral springs in the immediate vicinity."
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Collection Spotlight - Throwback Thursday - The Little Red Caboose

April 5th, 2018
"The Little Red Caboose" Essay and research by James L. Crawford

In 1906, the Steamboat Springs Town Board decided it was time to build a town jail. The seting for the jail took a bit of negotiation. The first proposal was to place it on an empty lot next to Jim Stees residence.

After Stees complained, and hired a lawyer to back him up, the Board chose to build it in the street next to Butcherknife Creek. John Walters was given the contract to build it, and had started on the foundation when F.A. Metcalf registered his complaint, saying that would interfere with the traffic going to the neighbors. More likely, his complaint was just a form of entrepreneurship. Metcalf proposed placing it on his lot (lot 2 in block 30) next to the new First National Bank (the current Steamboat Art Museum building), and that he would offer the site rent-free for six months.

This offer was accepted, and Walters built a 12x14 feet building along the alley at the back of lot 2 at a cost to the city of $164.65. The building was finished in May, and painted red on the exterior.
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Collection Spotlight - Love seat made from Rocky Mountain big horn sheep horns, circa 1910

March 15th, 2018
Throwback Thursday collections spotlight: Love seat made from Rocky Mountain big horn sheep horns, circa 1910. The unique seat was made by Steamboat Springs’ most notable early-day carpenters, Ernest Campbell (builder of the museum's Zimmerman house). The sheep horns were collected by Campell in Canada. The Museum owns several pieces of furniture like this made out of moose paddles, elk antlers, and more.
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Collection Spotlight - World Champion and three-time Olympic medalist, Johnny Spillane's Olympic Silver Medal

February 26th, 2018
World Champion and three-time Olympic medalist, Johnny Spillane's Olympic Silver Medal Nordic Combined, 2010 Vancouver, B.C., Canada On display at the Tread of Pioneers Museum starting tomorrow! Come and see it!
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Collection Spotlight - Ski jumping competition medal awarded to Carl Howelsen.

December 14th, 2017
Ski jumping competition medal awarded to Carl Howelsen. Howelsen won this medal in 1920 in Dillon, CO. Howelsen, a Norwegian stone mason and ski jumper known as the Father of Skiing in Colorado, started ski clubs in Denver, Hot Sulphur Springs, and Steamboat Springs. He resided in Steamboat Springs from 1913 to 1920 where he built the first ski jumps on Howelsen Hill, started the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and Winter Carnival, and instilled a love of skiing and spirit of competition that would ignite the Steamboat Springs community. Shortly after winning this medal, he returned to his home in Norway to help care for his parents.
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Collection Spotlight - World War I gas mask

December 7th, 2017
World War I gas mask. Created to protect soldiers from poison gas attacks that became prevelent during the war. The use of poison gas in warfare was previously thought to be too shocking for use. The crude masks offered little actual protection. This mask was issued to Robert Noyce who served in the 10th Field Artillery in 1919.
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Collection Spotlight - Routt County Courthouse Log

December 1st, 2017
Piece of a wood log removed from the original Routt County courthouse, located in Hayden, Colorado, 1879. Approximately 27" long. The first Routt County courthouse was built in Hayden in 1877 for $100. The little old cabin never had a floor other than the ground. The county seat, and therefor the courthouse, was relocated in 1879 to the mining boom town of Hahns Peak. A final move occurred in 1912 when a vote to relocate the seat was given to Steamboat Springs.
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Collection Spotlight - Chase Splitter Machine

November 2nd, 2017
Chase splitter machine. Splitting is the process of thinning or dividing hides of leather into two or more layers in order to get the leather into a workable thickness. A splitting machine (like this one) allows the worker to use the same hide throughout the project, creating fully uniform pieces with similar colors and textures.
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Collection Spotlight - Throwback Thursday - Mail Bag

October 27th, 2017
Mail Bag- leather, used prior to canvas mail bags of the 1920s. Thought to have been used to carry U.S. mail or voter ballots on saddle horses or carried on the stagecoach because it has a padlock.
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Collection Spotlight - Throwback Thursday - Ski chair

October 26th, 2017
Throwback Thursday collections spotlight! Ski chair used on lift which ran from the base of Howelsen Hill to top of Emerald Mountain. The lift was installed in 1948, and at the time it was the longest single span lift in the United States. It was also the first to combine T-bars and chairs on one lift. Following the 1948-1949 ski season the chairs were only used for summer sightseers. Summer lift operation continued until 1956. While the terrain off the top of Emerald Mountain was very steep, (and very thick with trees) it was also very flat in places. Skiers had a hard time getting up the backside of Howelsen Hill. For this reason, the Emerald Mountain chair was discontinued and the T-bar lift was used to take skiers to the top of Howelsen Hill.
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Collection Spotlight - Throwback Thursday - Colorado driver license

October 17th, 2017
Colorado driver license, 1921, No. 11240. Brown metal pin, 1 1/2" diameter. Donated by the Forgey family. Charles Forgey opened an automobile mechanic shop in Mount Harris in 1927.
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Collection Spotlight: Pair of Crow Indian beaded leggings

October 13th, 2017
Pair of Crow Indian beaded leggings - ca. 1940-1950. White with white and blue seed beads. Brain tanned, sewn with sinew. From Wind River Indian reservation.
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Collection Spotlight: Bedspread/coverlet

September 22nd, 2017
Bedspread/coverlet in the design of rose and acorn stripes with grapevine and bowl borders; green, red, yellow, blue. The corner reads : "Samuel Meily, Mansfield, Richland Ohio 1840". The bedspread was given to Mary West, who came to Routt County in 1911. It was made by her relative, Samuel Meily in 1840.
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Collection Spotlight - Paper placemat from the Harbor Hotel

September 8th, 2017
Paper placemat from the Harbor Hotel. The placemat is marked, “Hotel Harbor" "nine miles from Continental Divide, Steamboat Springs, Colorado" "Ralph Zushlag, owner and manager" "Warm Spring Swimming, Fishing, hunting, riding, hiking, skiing on famed Howelsen Hill site of National Ski meets 1000 miles of mountain trails".
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Collection Spotlight - Orange cardboard drug/medicine container

August 25th, 2017
Orange cardboard drug/medicine container, holding "Fuller Earth". From "Chamberlain-Gray Drug Co. Steamboat Springs, Colorado". Chamberlain-Gray was located in the current site of Lyons Drug Store, inside the Squire building at 9th and Lincoln. The corner building has housed a drug store since the early 1900s.
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Collection Spotlight - Throwback Thursday - Bandanna

August 10th, 2017
Bandanna, orange, marked with Steamboat logo and "Werner Storm Hut". The Werner Hut was owned and operated by Hazie and Skeeter Werner, it was the first ski lodge and rental store located on Storm Mountain.
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Collection Spotlight - Throwback Thursday - Party Dress

July 20th, 2017
87.13.272 – Party Dress. Orange-color, made of chiffon. Short in length with a low neck. Worn about 1920, belonged to Dorothy Wither. Wither owned and operated a ladies’ clothing store for 46 years. The Dorothy Shop became a town icon, while Wither served her community in numerous ways. In 1959, she led a campaign to establish the Tread of Pioneers Museum.
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Collection Spotlight - Throwback Thursday - Cabin Hotel Key

July 13th, 2017
79.204.5 – Cabin Hotel Key. Marked “No. 76. If carried away, return by parcel post, 2 cents." “No. 8" written on back. The Cabin Hotel was the landmark hotel of Northwest Colorado. The hotel was built in 1909 and featured 100 guest rooms. The hotel burned in 1939, two people perished during the disaster.
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Collection Spotlight - The Hands-On Pioneer Bedroom is open!

May 18th, 2017
The Hands-On Pioneer Bedroom is open!

Creating a dedicated kid-friendly space has been a goal of Tread of Pioneers Museum staff for several years. Through visitor surveys, evaluations, comments, and visitor interaction observance, we identified a need to provide a safe, dedicated space where kids could interact with historical objects and local history themes, and be entertained.

We developed a replica bedroom, within an authentic, historic home, that represents a typical child’s bedroom in Steamboat Springs around 1900 through 1915. The room has furniture including a bed, desk, side table, and a trunk of clothing which immediately defines the space as a bedroom. The room also includes historic and replica toys from the turn of the 19th century ready for touching and experimentation. The real antique toys include books, blocks, china dolls, teddy bears, porcelain tea sets, metal-cast horse and wagons, and more—all ready for play and interaction. Framed portraits on the wall feature local families and children from the early 1900s.

Information and fun history tid-bits on every item in the bedroom can be found within the “Discovery Cards” drawer. Having the information located in a drawer keeps children involved and requires them to seek and find answers (which often leads to better information retention).

Another drawer in the room includes odd Victorian tools no longer in use today. The “What is This?” game includes historical objects for kids to hold, bend, and smell in order to figure out what it is. Some of the items are, glove stretchers, a button hook, garters, hand warmers, and a darning egg.

While the goal for the room is to serve, educate, and entertain children of elementary school age the room is open to all museum visitors, and will delight kids of all ages. A panel in the room and a soon-to-be completed book, touch on local history themes important for all ages and types of visitors. Some of these themes are how the town changed with the coming of the railroad; how families worked together to survive the harsh Yampa Valley winters; school-life; town economics; and the history of the local strawberry boom. We hope everyone enjoys our newest exhibit at the Tread of Pioneers Museum!

By Katie Adams, curator Tread of Pioneers Museum
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Collection Spotlight - Steamboat Strawberries

April 21st, 2017
Many people around Steamboat Springs, including myself, have admitted to searching grasses, fields, and an occasional garden for any sign of the now vanished local Remington strawberry. I have had no success. Could it be that time has completely erased any sign of these once prevalent berries?

The strawberry boom of Steamboat Springs occurred from 1900 to 1915 in a meadowland north of town. Originally the area was called Sheddeger Park after a Swiss homesteader. Kansas farmer L.R. Remington produced a large berry that could sustain the cool climate and survive the journey in unrefrigerated rail cars to Denver and beyond. Local farmers jumped at the opportunity to produce strawberries, and land prices in what became known as Strawberry Park, soared from $150 to $1500 per acre. Local author, John Rolfe Burroughs grew up in Steamboat Springs and worked the strawberry patches as a young boy. In his book, Head First in the Pickle Barrel, Burroughs writes:

…[T]he first money I ever earned as anybody’s employee was by picking berries…[for Frank Bergman].
Mrs. Bergman actually had charge of the strawberry “shed”; that is, she checked in the berries picked and credited the picker with the proper number of boxes by punching numbers out of a card much as railroad conductor punches a commuter’s ticket. At first those of us who picked for Bergmans walked to work, leaving town about 6 am carrying our lunches. Later on Mr. Bergman or one of his sons picked us up at the Mining Exchange corner on Lincoln Avenue promptly at 6:30 am and hauled us out to Strawberry Park in a hay rack. Please understand that the job of picking strawberries was not confined to youngsters. Quite a few older people, especially women, availed themselves of the opportunity to earn some money. Riding out to the Park was pretty much of a lark: it was early morning, the air was fresh, and the sun only a hop, skip, and a jump above the horizon.

The berry men—Mr. Remington, Mr. Bergman, and Mr. Forgey, W.S. Fisher, and others—paid pickers two cents the heaping quart box. The job went something like this: Whoever was driving the team wheeled the hay rack up in front of the “strawberry shed” in the middle of the patch with a flourish, and everybody piled out. Mrs. Bergman, a friendly women with sparking black eyes, wearing a fresh sunbonnet, already was behind the counter, on which were piled the “carriers”—wooden boxes with low sides and rigid handles—into which six quart boxes, three in tandem in two rows, fitted exactly. In picking, you worked down the row assigned you, shoving the carrier in front and picked the ripe and nearly ripe berries on both sides by clipping off the stems between your thumbnail and the outside of your forefinger. In reality each picker stripped one half of two rows, while the pickers on either side of him did the same thing.

We kids messed around for the first half-hour or so, dropping about as many berries into ourselves as we did into the boxes, laughing and joking, throwing overripe berries at one another, and, when the opportunity offered, mashing them in some girl’s hair. But if we held up our monkey business too long, Mrs. Bergman came out of the shed and told us to settle down and get to work, which we eventually did. When all six boxes in your carrier were heaping full, you took it to the shed, where Mrs. Bergman briefly inspected the berries and, if everything was all right, punched a “5” and a “1” out of your ticket, removed the full boxes, and filled the carrier with empties. Five plus one makes six; and six multiplied by two meant that you already had earned all but three cents of the price of a pineapple ice-cream soda at Chamberlain-Gray’s soda fountain. This made you feel pretty good; and so you hurried back to your row, intent on picking another 12 cents worth in nothing flat.

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Collection Spotlight - Phillips Family Colt

March 3rd, 2017
In 1959, the Phillips family, a pioneer family from the Oak Creek area, donated a revolver to the newly established Tread of Pioneers Museum. I recently found a letter in our archives prepared by the family regarding the revolver. Here is the content of the letter:

This gun is presented to the Tread of Pioneers Museum by the Phillips family. Worn and used by John P. Phillips, Sr. when he came to Routt County in 1881.

In the spring of 1881 William Bird had a team [of horses] stolen from his home in Florissant, Colorado. A prospector who had come through Egeria Park saw the team and told Mr. Bird about them. It had been two months since the team had been stolen, but he decided to go after them; so accompanied by John P. Phillips and S.D. Wilson, they started out to find them.

When they reached Egeria Park they found the team in what is known as the Van Camp grove in Yampa. They claimed the horses and returned to Florissant, but were so impressed with the fine grass and water in the Yampa Valley they decided to return the next year to make their permanent home.

In the summer of 1882 William Bird, his sons Tom and Albert, R.L. Wilson, and John P. Phillips came to Egeria Park and filed on homesteads. They brought a few tools to build cabins and plenty of ammunition and previsions. Each had a good saddle horse and Mr. Bird had a team and a wagon.

They spent the summer building cabins and cutting the wild hay that grew so luxuriant along the river. On August 4 [1882] in returning to their cabin, they found someone had entered and taken their provisions. Being many miles from a new supply, they started in search of the thieves.

They heard of three wagons passing through the valley and then contacted Ed Watson, another settler. The deputy sheriff from Leadville, Colorado happened to be at Watson’s place and joined them in the search. They caught up with the wagon train, but the people were not known by the sheriff. However, they were told that the two men with a well packed mule had camped below the wagon train the night before and had spent the evening shooting their many guns.
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Collection Spotlight - The Story of A Sock Knitter

February 15th, 2017
By Sara Sweeney, Intern An unfamiliar machine is featured in a sewing display at the Tread of Pioneers Museum. The machine, about four feet tall, has: three metal legs, cranks and gears, and a long antenna-like wire extending from it. Never having seen an object like this in my life, I came to learn that the new-to-me, and perhaps new-to-you, device is called a “circular sock knitting machine.” It was donated to the museum’s collections by the Maguire family in 1966. When Tread of Pioneers Museum curator, Katie Adams, and I searched for a manufacturer’s marking, all we found was the remnants of a gold paper label, now worn off. Which means, unfortunately, I cannot talk about this exact circular sock knitting machine’s brand. Though, I can speak to machines like this one, as well as the culture surrounding sock-knitting in historical and contemporary United States.

In the late 1800’s, circular sock knitting machines similar to the one in our museum were owned almost solely by families, when mothers and grandmothers provided the families’ clothing. Skills like sewing, knitting, and hemming were necessary to keep the family warm—especially through brutal Routt County winters. It is possible that only wealthier families owned a circular sock knitting machine, one that can crank out seven pairs of socks in one hour, if operated by a very skilled “cranker.” However, by the early twentieth century, sock-knitting was not just something for the wealthy to do in the comfort of their own home, and the call for experienced crankers was high.

In an article by CBC news, a contemporary experienced cranker notes about the sock-knitter, “This machine is said to have won the First World War.” From my research, I find this cranker Blake Harris’ remark spot-on. At a time when thousands of troops were spending night and day in wet, damp conditions, the immersion foot syndrome Trench Foot was rampant. Wool socks were needed to keep soldiers’ feet dry—and oftentimes, soldiers were best off changing their socks multiple times a day. When left untreated, trench foot became gangrenous and no antibiotics were available to treat it. Over the course of the first war, 20,000 soldiers were injured because of trench foot in the British Army alone. Women at home used machines like the one in our museum, on a volunteer basis, to speed up sock production so the soldiers could have dry feet.
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Collection Spotlight - Keeping your Holiday Treasures Safe

January 6th, 2017
By Katie Adams, Curator Treasured holiday themed heirlooms help us celebrate the season and are precious pieces that tell the story of our families. Before or after the holidays is a good time to take a look at how your treasures are displayed or stored. How are they faring from the last time you took them out? Do they need to be reorganized, sorted, documented, dusted, or better stored?

The holiday season is also a good time to talk with other family members and compare notes. It is a chance to ask details like: Where did this originally come from? Or was it made by a family member? Then you can quickly create a written record. It doesn’t have to be detailed; just grab a piece of paper and jot down notes, phrases, and memories. Those written notes are immensely helpful for our own memories and especially for future generations. Before putting away the ornaments, glassware, Nativity scene, and ceramics, take a moment to assess if the items are receiving the best storage care for another year.

For antique Christmas ornaments, a lightly damped abrasion-free cloth will help remove dust, do not over rub, you might loosen paint or damage the surface. Be mindful of ribbon, glitter, or other decorative pieces. Check for flaking of paint, loose hanging wires or top attachments. For those precious, delicate ornaments, I recommend purchasing soft cotton batting (from the sewing section) or acid-free tissue and an acid-free box with individual compartments for each ornament (see image). The museum-quality, acid-free material will help stabilize the item, while newsprint, Christmas tissue, and Kleenex contain chemicals and dyes that can be harmful.

Antique glassware is popular during the holidays. Keep in mind that china and crystal, although once designed to be used as serving pieces for food, should not be used as such when they are antiques. Age has caused the structure of the piece to weaken and extreme heat and cold can cause cracking or breakage. Passing and over handling of the glassware can also lead to accidents, but if you’re just putting out some Christmas cookies, the piece is likely safe.
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Collection Spotlight - The Mystery of the Wax Cylinders

December 16th, 2016
By Katie Adams, Curator The Tread of Pioneers Museum has two Ediphone dictating machines and nine associated sound-recording wax cylinders. We do not know the origins of our Ediphones, nor of the sound recordings captured on this obsolete media. What could be contained on these historic cylinders? Meeting minutes from the formation of a new club in town? A secret hiding place of a lost treasure?

The Ediphone was developed in the 1880s by Thomas Edison for recording speech or dictation. A sharp recording stylus was used to engrave sound waves into the wax cylinders. The cylinders could then be installed into the reproducing machine and played back. Ediphones were largely used by businesses, offices, hospitals, or police stations.

The museum’s machines likely date to the late 1930s-1940s, as they run on electric power and have more modern cords. Ediphones were largely replaced by electrical and magnetic technologies by the 1950s. We are not certain of the dates or the origins of the museum’s Ediphones, because these machines, and their associated wax cylinders are unknown items in our collections, which means I can find no associated information with them, no dates of when they came to the museum, no donor information, no clue as to what the wax cylinders might contain, and the museum does not have a play-back machine.

To solve the problem (and my intense curiosity), I contacted the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) in Andover, Mass. The team at NEDCC has developed an optical scanning machine, called IRENE (Image, Reconstruct, Erase, Noise, Etc.) which creates 2D and 3D digital photographic images that can then be analyzed and converted into sound files. They can digitize any grooved media with IRENE…which means they can help us solve the mystery of the wax cylinders! Actually as a conservation center, they do more. They clean and assess the cylinders if they are damaged or cracked; “fix” the audio file and piece together the sounds; create customized museum-quality mounts for the cylinders; and create preservation-quality master file for the museum’s records. Of course all of this comes at a price. NEDCC has quoted $5,665 for the care and digitization of our nine cylinders.
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Collection Spotlight - Election Day

November 8th, 2016
By Katie Adams, Curator Election Day in Routt County has been an important day in the region since our first elections were held in 1877. Formal government came to Northwest Colorado in 1877, the year that Routt County was officially formed. General elections were held the first Tuesday in October of every year. Much of our early elections, 1877 through 1912, focused on the location of the county seat. Voters cast ballots four times regarding the location of the county seat. Circumstances regarding availability of government officials, population numbers and transportation resulted in the relocation of the Routt County seat from Hayden (served as the seat from 1877-1879), to Hahns Peak (served from 1879-1912) and finally to Steamboat Springs.

Following the 1912 election, the Steamboat Pilot printed: “Next Monday Steamboat Springs will become officially the county seat of Routt County. This will close a contest of more than a quarter of a century. The people have voted four times on the question of the removal [of the county seat] and in an attempt to effect removal by law, a case was once taken to the supreme court of the state.”

In 1922 construction of our current courthouse located at 5th street and Lincoln Avenue began, and the building was completed in 1923. A brochure publicizing the benefits of living in Steamboat Springs described the courthouse in this way: “Routt County’s new courthouse is built of reinforced concrete. . .The exterior walls are of cream tapestry pressed brick trimmed with pulsichrome terra cotta, and the floors of the corridors are finished in terrazzo, a polished monolithic surface. . . Simple and dignified in design, the entire structure is one of beauty, permanence and economical construction. Exclusive of furnishings, it represents a cost of $122,000.”
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Collection Spotlight - Telephones through time at Tread of Pioneers

October 6th, 2016
By Katie Adams, Curator A collection of antique telephones at the Tread of Pioneers Museum reveal the history of telephone service in Steamboat Springs.

Telephone service began in 1900 when Steamboat Springs, about 25 years after the town’s founding by James H. Crawford.. A long distance line was connected Rifle to Steamboat Springs in October of 1900. According to the Routt County Sentinel article below, Northwest Colorado was “being put in touch with the outside world.” Wealthy cattle companies like the Cary brothers of Hayden funded lines which were strung from ranch to ranch and to railroad shipping points. These early telephones were battery and crank operated, and worked on “party lines.” Each ranch house was assigned a ring sequence. When the residents heard their ring, they would pick up the call, or pick up any call they wished to listen in on.

In Steamboat Springs at this time, there was one battery operated, wall-mounted, crank telephone in town that was located inside the J.W. Hugus Store on Lincoln Avenue. Those who wished to make a call had to wait in line. Because few homes could afford telephones, general stores often had one installed for their customers.

The telephone operators, a job held predominantly by women, were in charge of connecting all local and long distance calls. As the population of Steamboat Springs grew, letters were added to phone numbers. For instance, Dr. Crawford’s office was 51W and 51J. The Dentist, Dr. Schneider was phone 148 J. The letters represented party lines, which made connecting the lines easier for the operators.

“On the country lines we would press the lever for the long and short rings. Usually in the country there were about eight people on a party line,” recalled former operator, Ardys Brookshire in a 1982 Three Wire Winter magazine article. Not only were the operators in charge of connecting all calls, including emergency calls, they were also in charge of tracking call lengths for billing, and the amount paid into pay phones. “We had to listen for the different types of coins,” Brookshire said, “a dime would tink, and a quarter would thud. However, a nickel and quarter were a lot alike, and we had to listen for the bigger thud sound.”
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Camp Fire Girls

September 1st, 2016
Camp Fire Girls was organized around 1910 as a sister organization to Boy Scouts of America. By 1913 there were three scouting girls’ groups in the United States: Girl Scouts, Girl Guides, and Camp Fire Girls. Camp Fire Girls’ watchword was “WoHeLo,” which represented work, health, and love. The fire in the title of the club represented the home, a place of comfort and cheer. Fires also inspire activity and a place to gather together.

By 1913, the national membership was near 60,000. In Routt County, Camp Fire Girls was the most popular scouting club. The first club in Routt County was organized in Hayden. The Hayden group was named “Chipeta,” in honor of the wife of the Ute Chief Ouray. Camps were formed in Yampa, Steamboat Springs, Craig, Mount Harris, Phippsburg, Elkhead Camp, near Hayden, and Hot Sulphur Springs. By the 1950s Steamboat Springs had at least six different chapters of Camp Fire Girls (Wahelwa, Petawata, Waditaka, Tandah, Luta, and Odako). Each group had a quota of twenty girls ages twelve to twenty, and one Guardian, who had to be at least twenty-one-years old.

The camps adopted their own version of Native American spirituality and their own understandings of Native American lore and symbolism, particularly in their dress. Each girl was expected to make their own ceremonial dress and headband. “The dress resembled what the organizers thought of as a “typical” Native American buckskin dress, straight with fringe on the bottom,” wrote Catherine Ellis in her 2011 article, “Glorify Work and Be Happy.” 1 There were three levels of progression in Camp Fire Girls, Wood Gatherer, Fire Maker, and Torch Bearer. Each level was reached based on years of membership, attendance at meetings, and elective honors.

The local clubs took an annual camping trip which included activities such as hiking, baseball, fishing, and archery. Each morning the girls attended a “sunrise devotional” on the top of the nearest mountain and an inspiration Council Fire. Each camp raised money throughout the year to help fund the summer trip.
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Mrs. Reid’s Letter

July 11th, 2016
As promised in the previous blog, this month I am featuring an amazing story about pioneer wagon travelers conquering the mountains of Northwest Colorado. Through my time at the museum, I have done a lot of research on the history of Steamboat Springs, and read a lot of humbling stories and interviews from pioneers, but I have never been more impacted by local history as I have while researching for the museum’s new exhibit, Journeys West: Pioneer Tales from the Wagon Trail. Each family arrived with their own story of excitement and hardship because each person’s experiences were unique and new. I found one particular story to be really interesting and descriptive of the journey.

Local pioneer, Samuel B. Reid was instrumental in Steamboat Springs and Hayden business in the late 1880s. Before coming to Northwest Colorado, Reid traveled from North Carolina to California, to Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Washington, then settled in 1873 on Snake River, near the Colorado and Wyoming border. Reid married Mary Denney in 1863 in North Carolina. Sam and Mary had five children: Albert was born in 1864 in Idaho; Martha was born in Montana in 1866; Mary and Siren were born in Nevada in 1869 and 1871; and Sam Jr. was born in 1879 in Hahns Peak. (That’s a lot of wagon miles to cover with young children!) After three years at Snake River, the Reids relocated to the Elk River valley in 1876.

In 1996, the Tread of Pioneers Museum received a typed transcript of a letter Mrs. Mary E. (Denney) Reid wrote to her family, dated May 5th, 1876. The letter details the 14-day trip the family took from Snake River to Elk River. The original letter is three pages; I have included selected excerpts:

“Dear Children, nephews, and nieces: I am going to write of my trip from Snake River up to Elk River, 80 miles without any road. You must not think that it is going to be much, but it will let you know how we traveled over the mountains.”

“The 6th. (1876) We got breakfast and it began to snow again, so we lay in camp all day. Albert killed a duck for supper, and it snowed that night, covered my rocking chair up with snow. . . We hitched up the horses, and fixed up the things and was about to start and it commenced to hail, blow, and snow again, so we turned them out again.”

“7th.- We went to Fortification about 20 miles, and of all the mud, we had it. It was stick and stall, then holler and hurrah, till we would get out, and then go a little farther, and then stick again, till at last we came to an Indian camp. There were 18 wickiups and the laws [sic] knows how many men, women and papooses and dogs. They all ran to meet us, the dogs fighting and the folks jabbering.”
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A Copper Pot for the Ages

June 23rd, 2016
Collection Spotlight by Katie Adams, Curator, Tread of Pioneers Museum
Journeys West: Pioneer Tales from the Wagon Trail is the Tread of Pioneers Museum’s newest exhibit. The exhibit chronicles the stories of Northwest Colorado’s pioneer wagon travelers. Nearly every item on display was carried to Routt County in a pioneer’s wagon. One such item was a copper pot that was brought by Steamboat Springs’ founding family, the Crawfords.
The James H. Crawford family came to Colorado in 1873 from Missouri. The territory was rugged and mostly unknown. The Crawford family’s journey from Missouri to Steamboat Springs is described in detail in the new exhibit, including the astonishing story of traversing Rollins Pass before the road was completed.
Though the family brought two wagons and made stops along the way to restock food, space to carry supplies was limited. Every item that made it all the way from Missouri to Steamboat Springs was important. Not to mention the fact that the item was then used for years, saved by family, and THEN nearly one hundred years later, donated to the Tread of Pioneers Museum. Amazing!
So why a copper pot? I cannot be entirely sure why the copper pot was one of the items the Crawfords brought with them, after all is it one hundred years later, but I do know that copper cooking tools were treasured items. Copper heats quickly and uniformly, and it reaches hot temperatures with little fuel needed. If you are trying to conserve your fuel, a copper cooking pot would be a good choice. Plus, food does not stick to copper—a must when wasting food is not an option.
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Collection Spotlight - Rolling Star Quilt

May 1st, 2016
By Katie Adams, Curator The Tread of Pioneers Museum has a wonderful quilt collection. One quilt, called the Rolling Start quilt, dates to about 150 years old. The quilt (like many in the collection) was hand pieced and machine sewn with cotton fabrics. The quilt, called Rolling Star, is a version of the Eight Pointed Star pattern, a very popular quilt motif with hundreds of variations. The star pattern is not an easy design to cut or sew and was often selected as a way for the creator to show off her skills. Precision is key because mistakes can lead to unevenness or prohibit the quilt from lying flat.

Based on the fabrics used, the museum’s Rolling Star quilt was pieced sometime between 1860 and early 1880. The quilt was made by Ellis Clark’s mother in Missouri probably before her son set off from Missouri to the unsettled Northwest corner of Colorado in 1879. Before filing a Homestead, Clark was a mail carrier, delivering mail from Rock Creek to Hayden. The quilt was handed down to Clark’s daughter, who later married William Clay Shaw, who is part of another local pioneering family. The Shaw family donated the quilt to the museum in 1959.

While quilting is not uniquely American, the pioneering people of the United States have made it their own. Women created quilts out of necessity, and the quilts blossomed into a delicate art that has remained a popular past-time. To see more of the Tread of Pioneers Museum’s quilt collection, go to where the museum has collaborated with the Delectable Mountain Quilters Guild to show a small sampling of its quilt collection. In addition, on May 19, the museum, the Quilters Guild and the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum will present “Quilts of the 1930s: Hard Times, Great Quilts.”
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Finding Your Needle in a Haystack of Needles

March 1st, 2016
One item in our collection I have always been particularly curious about is a large, round, tin, with a slit in the top that rotates. Inside are about 50 wooden cases for sewing needles and shuttles (shuttles are the bobbin driver). What an interesting way to find the exact needle that you require, I always thought. After I looked into the product and company a bit more, it turns out that organization and efficiency was exactly the point.

The Boye Needle Company began manufacturing wood “commodity cases” around 1903 in Minneapolis, MN. Founder James Boye’s idea was to provide a method for displaying and locating the correct needle or shuttle for the 20,000 different manufacturers that circulated throughout the sewing industry.

Sewing machine manufacturers mass engineered supplies so that large retailers and mail-order companies could appear to have an exclusive line. The result was widespread confusion regarding which needle and shuttle fit which model and manufacturer. Boye discovered that among the 20,000 needles and shuttles, there were only about 15 different manufacturers with about 150 machine names.

Boye’s goal was to index all the needles, shuttles and bobbins on the market and create a color and number coded system that allowed any general store owner to easily locate the correct needle for a customer. The index was included on the top of the case and a rotatable needle/pointer would indicate all the proper needles, shuttles, and bobbins for each manufacturer. If you weren’t certain about your sewing machine name or manufacturer, you could look at the pictures of the shuttles on the case and compare needle sizes. Frustrated seamstresses no longer had to personally contact manufacturers for replacement needles, nor wait for shipments. Brilliant!
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Saying goodbye to the Semotan Family exhibit

February 1st, 2016
"Has it been a whole year already?!" I ask Trenia Sanford, granddaughter of Quentin and Evelyn Semotan and collaborator on the Tread of Pioneers Museum’s Foundations of Steamboat Exhibit, featuring the Semotan family. The dates tell us it has been. We opened the Semotan family exhibit upstairs in the Museum’s Victorian house in February of 2015, and by the end of this month, it will be replaced with a new exhibit, honoring the Squire/Hogue family.

I will be sad to see the Semotan exhibit go. The family story so wonderfully demonstrates the unique and colorful history of the Steamboat Springs area. Here is how the story begins. After his wife died, Joseph Semotan Senior came to Routt County with his young daughter in 1886 from Iowa and established a ranch near Day Creek in the Elk River valley. Later he married Mary Killian Semotan, who came from Iowa with her son Arthur. They had two more children, Lucille, and Quentin.

Noted pioneers in the town of Hayden, Lemuel and Mary Kitchens arrived in Routt County from North Carolina in 1885 with six children; seven more were born near Hayden. Callie Leoma Kitchens, the third oldest child of the family, graduated eighth grade and became a school teacher.

William Ellis, a college-educated Missouri Southerner, came with his brothers to seek adventure in 1898. While teaching school near Hayden, William met fellow teacher Callie Leoma Kitchens. The two were married in 1899 and later had three daughters, Nellie, Evelyn, and Mary. William Ellis held many jobs including school teacher, manager at the J.W. Hugus Store in Wolcott, sheep rancher, ranch foreman at the Cary Ranch, and Routt County Clerk.

William and Callie’s daughter, Evelyn, was born in Wolcott, Colorado in 1902. When her father was appointed to the position of County Clerk, the family moved to the Routt County Seat of Hahns Peak for ten years before moving (with the County Seat) to Steamboat Springs in 1912. As a young girl, Evelyn and her sisters witnessed the escape of two prisoners from the Hahns Peak jail. The jailbirds swore the Ellis sisters to silence. Evelyn was full of adventure, smarts, and had a way with horses. Evelyn married cowboy Quentin Semotan in 1936.
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The Tread of Pioneers Museum’s Edward S. Curtis Collection

January 13th, 2016
"In Mr. Curtis we have both an artist and a trained observer, whose pictures are pictures, not merely photographs; whose work has far more than mere accuracy, because it is truthful." -Theodore Roosevelt

From 1900 to 1930, photographer Edward S. Curtis successfully and artistically photographed and recorded the daily life, traditions, cultures, and hardships of over 80 American Indian tribal groups. Curtis compiled over 40,000 images from native tribes all over the United States.

The Tread of Pioneers Museum is the proud owner of twelve beautiful photogravure prints—a collection that any museum in the world would be proud to hold. So, how did this collection come to be at the Museum?

It all started with the Maybell Mercantile Company owner, H.B. "Johnny" Pleasant. In the 1920s Johnny Pleasant’s mercantile store fell into debt and the family moved from Maybell, Colorado. As a result, Johnny’s son, Richard, then age 14,was sent to live with his aunt and uncle, Eunice and Ferry Carpenter in Hayden. The Carpenters enrolled Richard at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp in Steamboat Springs where Richard’s passion for theatre was ignited.

For over thirty years Johnny Pleasant and his son collected Navajo and Southwest Indian art (including the Curtis photogravures). The collection was stored in their log home, located near the present day Yampa Valley Regional Airport. When Johnny Pleasant died, the collection was bequeathed to his son.

After graduating from Princeton (with the help of alumni Uncle Ferry) and serving in World War II, Pleasant joined with Lucia Chase in New York and opened the Ballet Theatre in 1939 (now known as the American Ballet Theatre). The Ballet Theatre was Pleasant’s brain-child and was unlike any other ballet company.
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Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection

December 15th, 2015
Collection Spotlight By Katie Adams – information provided by Colorado, Wyoming Museum Association

The Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection (CHNC) online database is one resource that I utilize almost daily to help me with all historic local research. The database originally launched several years ago and this November it was completely updated. offers public access to over 650,000 digitized pages of historic Colorado newspapers. The Colorado State Library has made the new site faster, easier to navigate, and more user-friendly. The best part about it is, it’s FREE! You don’t have to create an account (although I created one to help manage my searches and to save articles) nor do you have to pay a monthly registration fee.

The Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection (CHNC) currently offers online access to more than 199 local and regional newspapers, including newspapers published between 1859 and 1923. I most frequently access the Steamboat Pilot which includes full issues from 1894 through 1964. The new search layout allows you to search by county (before you had to select newspapers individually), so you can simultaneously search all seven of the newspapers that were printed in Routt County.

Museum staff are not the only ones benefiting from this online database. K-12 students can interact directly with primary source materials too, instead of depending on the history books to interpret the content for them. Genealogy researchers can search by name or just obituaries. Newspapers often provide record of birth, marriage, and death, and may also contain stories about families that cannot be found in any other sources. CHNC makes these resources easily accessible to all.
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October 30th, 2015
10/2015 - 5/2016
Combine the words snow and surfing and you get “Snurfing.” This is exactly what Nancy Poppen did in 1965 when her husband, Sherman Poppen presented a handmade Christmas gift of two skis fixed together to his ten-year-old daughter.

The stand-on-top-double ski was an instant hit among Poppen’s family and friends. Poppen recalled in a 2009 Steamboat Pilot & Today interview, “They just had so much fun. It’s a good thing it kept snowing that winter.”
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A Confederate Note

October 7th, 2015
A Confederate Note By Katie Adams, Curator at the Tread of Pioneers Museum Part of the mission of the Tread Pioneers Museum is to collect and interpret items that tell the story of the history of our area and its residents. Often, items in our collection are also deeply embedded in national history as well. This is the case for this month’s blog topic, “A Confederate Note.”

Henry Schaffnit Sr. led an exciting life. It was a life of adventure and hardship, here are the very quick highlights:

  • Came from Germany in 1851
  • Followed the gold rush to California in 1854
  • Fought in the Civil War in 1861 (on the Union side)
  • Ran a hotel in Leadville, CO in 1874
  • Mined gold in Hahns Peak
  • Homesteaded in Routt County in 1884
  • Built and ran the Sheridan Hotel in Steamboat Springs in 1888
  • Lived in Steamboat Springs for many years, retired to California, and died in 1916. Obviously there is so much more to share about this extraordinary man, but that I’ll save for another blog.
Henry Schaffnit’s family gave several items to the museum in 1970s, one item that I have always found intriguing was a Confederate currency note. (see image below)

When the Civil War broke out the Confederacy began to issue its own money. The idea was that the citizens of the South could have their own currency under what they assumed would be the new Confederate government. The first note from the Government of the Confederate States of America was issued in April 1861. Our Schaffnit $20 bill was issued on September 2, 1861. It, like all the other currency, was painstakingly hand signed and numbered. The notes were even cut apart by hand from large sheets.

While our note is legitimate, many of them are counterfeit. Some have been recently copied by the scammers of today, while other notes were copied by the North in an attempt to cause massive inflation by distributing counterfeit money throughout the South. It worked, the South was saturated with bills, then after the South fell, the notes had no value, and the Southern banks had no money to loan. The cotton industry bottomed out, and most importantly, the U.S. government never recognized the Confederate States of America as legitimate. So the money, stocks, and bonds that were printed by the South had absolutely no redeemable value.

As you can see in the image of the bill, at the top of the bill it says “Six Months after the ratification of the Treaty of Peace between the Confederate States and the United States.” Then in the middle “The Confederate States of America will pay $20 to bearer.” So the money wasn’t backed by assets, it was just a promise note to pay the bearer after the war, if the South won. It’s no wonder the bills were worth nothing before the end of the war.

There were nearly one hundred different bill designs created, ranging from 50 cents to $1,000 denominations. The image of the man on the Schaffnit bill is of Alexander H. Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederate States of America, and the 50th Governor of Georgia. Our bill isn’t rare—there were 2,834,251 issued.
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Music for Brooklyn

September 10th, 2015
Steamboat Springs was established as a “dry town” by the town founders. A November 21, 1900 Steamboat Pilot article headlined “Ordinance,” enacted prohibition of alcohol sales within town limits and fees for liquor establishments. Every real estate purchase included a deed that contained a no-liquor restriction. As a result of the ordinance, any saloons previously located within Steamboat Springs were required to close or relocate outside of city limits, which created the small neighborhood on the far side of the Yampa River known as Brooklyn.(2)

Gus Durbin was an entrepreneur and saloon owner in Brooklyn. I like him because of the witty name he gave his saloon, The Carrie Nation (Google the name and you’ll understand☺). For his saloon, Gus Durbin purchased a very sophisticated disc music box. The museum now owns Mr. Durbin’s music box.

The Brooklyn saloons were the social hub for many men. It was at the saloon where they heard local and regional news, found work, and I’d like to think, where many men received a little bit of culture by listening to the music box. The museum’s music box includes ten discs that play the songs “Coming Through the Rye,” “She May Have Seen Better Days,” “Treasure Waltz,” and more.

Disc playing music boxes were introduced in Germany in 1885. By 1892 the Regina Music Company opened in New Jersey and quickly become America’s finest and largest music box maker, selling approximately 100,000 units from about 1892 through the mid ‘teens. Regina’s sales grossed about $2 million a year. The cost of a Regina music box was between $12 and $300.

According to Regina factory records, the museum’s music box was shipped from the factory in April of 1895. We do not know if Gus Durbin ordered the music box from the Rahway, NJ factory or if he acquired it later.

Reginas produced a sound that was arguably better than any other music box player on the market, and if you wanted to play to a crowd, which is what this model was designed for, the Regina’s tone and musical arrangement was the best. “It was loud enough for use in a large room without sounding in any way harsh, brash, or unpleasant.”(1)

By the start of World War I the musical box industry was ending. All European makers stopped production by 1914. Regina’s music box production ceased in 1919. The company continued to sell mechanical pianos and in 1924 they started making floor polishers and vacuum cleaners, the brand name is still around today. (3) 1914 also marked the end of the Brooklyn saloons. Changes to state liquor laws and efforts by concerned citizens of Steamboat Springs to clean up the area, forced the closure of the saloons, boarding houses, and brothels in Brooklyn. Who owned the museum’s music box between 1914 and the 1950s isn’t clear. When the museum opened in 1959, the music box was donated by Mrs. McClure Johnson, a local author and artist. Today the music box is being carefully preserved in the Tread of Pioneers Museum’s collection facility.


1. Harry Carmell, late owner of the Regina Music Box Company
2. The Yampa Valley Sin Circuit by Laurel Watson
3. The Musical Box Society International
Steamboat Pilot
Tread of Pioneers Museum records

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Black Circles and Chilly Feet

July 29th, 2015
Collection Spotlight by Katie Adams, Curator at Tread of Pioneers Museum

I have the privilege of meeting a lot of wonderful, knowledgeable people through my job. Visitors to the museum are often eager to share stories from their family. The museum’s 1908 Victorian House, home of the Zimmerman family, resembles the homes from people’s past and folks emerge from the home feeling reminiscent. Mission accomplished! I’ve heard from people remembering grandmothers bent over coal stoves, like the one in our kitchen, creating some of the best bread and treats, without a temperature gauge or modern appliances and mixers.

The museum’s Victorian house is filled with many wonderful, subtle items. These small features to the house often go unnoticed, or in my case, seen so often they are taken for granted. Recently I have received a lot of questions about the “black circles,” as one visitor called them, in the floors.

The black circles are vents or floor registers, installed to help warm the upper level of the home. The only heat source was located in the kitchen, a.k.a. grandmother’s stove (more about that later). Wealthy families may have had additional fireplaces, but seldom had a fireplace in the bedroom. The heat from the kitchen stove, which was lit the majority of the year, rose up and provided (meager) heat to the upper bedrooms.
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A Coincidence You Have to See to Believe

July 3rd, 2015
Collection Spotlight by Katie Adams, Curator, Tread of Pioneers Museum

We recently opened a new exhibit at the Tread of Pioneers Museum, The Horse: Exploring the Profound Relationship between Humans and Horses in Northwest Colorado. The exhibit and its process was fun and rewarding for me, a horse lover myself.

My goal for the display was to involve and incorporate as much from Routt County’s communities as possible. I met many wonderful people with horse knowledge. The word knowledge really doesn’t do justice to describe the resources, family history, and passion many locals have with horses. Whether they grew up around horses and moved them to Routt County, or are Routt County’ers whose family has been using, working, and breeding horses for four and five generations, these people know horses.

So it should be of no surprise that my research led me to local horseman, Ray Heid. If you don’t know him, you’ve most likely seen him in magazines. He’s the quintessential cowboy pictured in Steamboat Ski Area advertisements and local publications. In fact, Ray is on the cover of the latest edition of Explore magazine.
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Collection Spotlights with Museum Curator Katie Adams - June 2015

June 3rd, 2015
In 1986 the Tread of Pioneers Museum was given a rather odd gift from Guthrey Drake. The gift was a human tooth, a gold tooth to be exact. The tooth, we are told, was found by Guthrey’s father, George Drake in 1900. George Drake was a gold prospector in Hahns Peak and it was during his searching that he found the tooth. Hahns Peak is located about 25 miles north of Steamboat Springs. Today Hahns Peak refers to both a mountain as well as the small community near the mountain’s base. BUT, before it was known as Hahns Peak, the area was actually comprised of several small camps located around mining sites.

According to our museum collection records, the Drake family believed a miner used the tooth as payment for drinks in a Hahns Peak saloon. This miner may have been down on his luck, and he may have had to extract the only thing of value he had in order to pay his bar tab.

When you consider the history of Hahns Peak in the late 1870s to early 1900s, this “tooth for spirits” story becomes more believable. Hahns Peak was once the largest town in the area, and because it was a mining town, the population was almost entirely young, unmarried men. After working a long hard day, miners had little else to do with their time (or money) so the saloon became the social center, for better or worse. It didn’t start out this way though.
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Curator's Collection Spotlights - May 2015

May 4th, 2015
By Katie Adams, Curator One of the most valued and interesting pieces in the Tread of Pioneers Museum’s collection is a very ordinary looking wooden gavel. The gavel was used by town founder James H. Crawford at the annual Routt County Pioneer Association meetings. Crawford, who established the town of Steamboat Springs in 1875 (among many other things) was also the first president of the Routt County Pioneer Association, which he helped to form in 1903.

During the Association’s annual meetings, pioneers from across the county, (which in 1903 also included Moffat County--the two counties were divided in 1911) would gather each year, nominate officers, discuss the happenings, listen to friends tell stories about those early days in Routt County, and of course eat lots of food.

But before it was a gavel, it was a flag pole. As the story goes, it was the summer of 1875 and the Crawford family planned to fly the first flag in Steamboat Springs. A pine tree was cut down, bark removed, and smoothed into a fine flag pole. At this time, there were very few white settlers in the Yampa Valley, and the Native Americans who inhabited the valley in the summers, the Utes, were very interested in what this family was up to. Stories from the Crawfords indicate that the Utes and Crawfords were friendly, and Crawford and Ute children played together. The Utes were present at the flag flying ceremony and witnessed the trouble Mr. Crawford had when trying to raise the flag up the pole.
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Agriculture Appreciation Week, March 22-29

March 19th, 2015
Agriculture Appreciation Week, March 22-29, is a time to recognize and celebrate the importance of agriculture. In our modern world of technology, plastics, clean packaging, and online shopping, we may forget that agriculture provides most everything we eat, drink, use, and wear on a daily basis. National and local efforts attempt to educate millions of consumers about the importance of agriculture and ask "where would YOU be without agriculture?”

To help celebrate the event, the Tread of Pioneers Museum, Bud Werner Memorial Library, and the Community Agriculture Alliance will co-host “Historic Agriculture in the Yampa Valley: Longtime Perspectives on Farming, Ranching and Gardening.” This panel discussion takes place on Monday, March 23 at 6:30pm at the Bud Werner Library and features agricultural producers who have a long hands-on history in the Yampa Valley, plus three generations of Routt County CSU Extension agents. The program’s panelist include: Dean Look - Routt County Native, Rancher and Outdoor Enthusiast; Rita Herold - Routt County Native, Rancher, Educator and Historian; Sam Haslem, CJ Mucklow and Todd Hagenbuch – Three Generations of Routt County CSU Extension; and moderator, Marsha Daughenbaugh – Executive Director of Community Agriculture Alliance.
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Carl Howelsen (1877-1955)

July 25th, 2014
“The Flying Norseman”
Father of Skiing in Colorado

Born in Oslo, Norway, Carl Howelsen was a ski jumping champion in the making. In 1905, Howelsen left Norway for America where he became a stonemason in Chicago. There he was discovered by Barnum & Bailey Circus and became a star attraction jumping over 80 feet in the "Greatest Show on Earth."

Howelsen eventually found his way to Colorado participating in jumping exhibitions. In 1913, Steamboat Springs resident, Marjorie Perry, discovered the jumping Norwegian and invited him to come to Steamboat Springs.

Upon his arrival in town, Howelsen organized the first Winter Carnival and founded the ski club that is now the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. The club has since become a nationally-known premier ski training organization.
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