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Steamboat Springs, Colorado (Images of America Series)

Steamboat Springs, Colorado (Images of America Series)

by David H. Ellis

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Known as Ski Town, U.S.A., for its deep powder and its growing crop of winter Olympians, Steamboat Springs was named nearly two centuries ago by French trappers. Hearing the "chug, chug" of one of many hot springs, they supposed they had reached navigable waters. For centuries, the area's abundant fish, game, and mineral springs drew the Yampatika, a Ute subtribe.


Known as Ski Town, U.S.A., for its deep powder and its growing crop of winter Olympians, Steamboat Springs was named nearly two centuries ago by French trappers. Hearing the "chug, chug" of one of many hot springs, they supposed they had reached navigable waters. For centuries, the area's abundant fish, game, and mineral springs drew the Yampatika, a Ute subtribe. In the 1870s, a rush of settlers came, first for precious metals, followed by more renewable riches--the lush summer pastures--and next the extraction of carbonized forests (coal) millions of years old. Ironically, real wealth ultimately fell free from leaden winter skies, and this Routt County community experienced a boom like few places on earth. Winter sports, including ski jumping, with some world records, made Steamboat Springs famous worldwide.

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From the Publisher

Title: Tom Ross: Not just another snakebite story

Author: Tom Ross

Publisher: Steamboat Today

Date: 5/15/2010

Steamboat Springs -- Remember the good old days when Hayden had its own all-woman Ukulele Glee Club?


During the 1920s, they used to ride around town in the back of an REO Eagle Beak touring car, entertaining the community.

If you don't recall the ukulele girls, maybe you can remember digging into a big bowl of ice cream from C.E. Rose's ice cream factory in Hayden. Remember when they served it at Adolph Friedrich's soda fountain?

Oh, that's right, the soda fountain burned to the ground in 1931.

Hayden was settled in 1875, and the first residents expected it to become the commercial, government and social hub of Northwest Colorado. After all, the first Routt County Courthouse was contained in a log cabin in Hayden.

A new pictorial book being released Monday titled simply, "Hayden," celebrates the town's rich history. It's part of the Images of America series produced by Arcadia Publishing, and all proceeds will benefit the Hayden Heritage Center. The picture of the first courthouse is on page 11. There is a great image of the Ukulele Glee Club on page 68, and you can get your ice cream on page 76.

Hayden historian Jan Leslie wrote the detailed captions for more than 200 vintage photographs carefully compiled by former Heritage Center curator Mary Pat Dunn.

One of the real treasures of the book is a rare formal portrait of Samuel and Mary Reid, whose arrival in Hayden in 1880 marked the beginning of Hayden's recorded history, according to Leslie.

"When we finally found that photograph, I let out a yell you could hear a long ways away," Leslie said Friday.

The Reids, she said, lived at Glen Eden in North Routt but harvested hay from a field near Hayden. The modern town site occupies a part of their original ranch.

The Reids moved to town a year after the Meeker Massacre and helped build the Shelton and Walker irrigation ditches that made agriculture more practical.

Leslie has been able to pack a great deal of anecdotal historical information into her photo captions. Yet she says the research came relatively easy.

"I've kept scrapbooks on all of Hayden's buildings and its businesses," she explained.

If you haven't heard how Rich­ard "Tex" McDowell gained fame in the 1940s with his inclusion in Ripley's Believe It or Not, you're going to want a copy of the book.

As Leslie tells it, McDowell owned a six-mule team and used it to build roads and bridges in the area. He built the river bridge and the Middle Cog road north of Hayden. But it was an encounter with a reptile that secured his fame.

Tex received national attention in Ripley's after a rattlesnake bit him -- and the snake died. Take that, Mr. Rattler.

Some of the most enlightening content in the new book isn't about Hayden at all but the long vanished coal-mining town of Mount Harris. It's a town most of us have never glimpsed, though we've driven by the historic town site on the way to the airport, Hayden or Craig scores of times.

I've always known there used to be several coal mines and a town in that narrow stretch of the Yampa Valley, but I didn't realize how extensive the development was, with a two-story commercial building of native sandstone, a movie theater and an eight-room school. "Hayden" provides the best look you may ever have at Routt County's lost city.

"Hayden" is the kind of book you can pick up for three minutes and learn something, put it down again and return to it many times.

Its images, historical facts and anecdotal information are a great addition to local history.

I'd like to tell you the story of why Samuel Forsythe Shelton was late for his own wedding, but you'll have to track it down for yourself.

"Hayden" costs $21.99 and is available at local retailers, online bookstores or through the publisher at www.arcadiapublising.com or 888-313-2665.

Title: Tom Ross: Book reveals Steamboat Springs you never knew

Author: Tom Ross

Publisher: The Steamboat Pilot & Today

Date: 10/10/09

Northwest Colorado is blessed with a wealth of serious books about local history. And there is a brand-new volume that will quickly earn a place in your personal library. It will help you see Steamboat Springs the way the pioneers did. Literally.

Arcadia Publishing released "Images of America Steamboat Springs," by David H. Ellis and Catherine H. Ellis late this year as part of its ongoing Images of America series. The books in the series are intended to tell stories from the past that continue to shape lives in towns and cities across America today.

I already have a roster of Routt County history books to rely on, but even at first glance, the Ellises' new book taught me things I did not previously understand about the Yampa Valley.

To my knowledge, there is no other compact publication of important Routt County historical images that rivals this one.

Early in my newspaper career here, I had the profound pleasure of interviewing people who described their first trip to Steamboat on a stagecoach. There are photographs showing the stage that arrived here from Wolcott, closely resembling the archetypal carriage from the 1939 John Ford classic film, "Stagecoach," starring Claire Trevor, John Wayne and the great Andy Devine.

That version of the stagecoach is lodged in my brain.

Now, thanks to the Ellises, I've quickly come to grasp that, historically, stagecoaches here came in many shapes and sizes. During the first half of the 20th century, any cart or wagon that could ferry freight and passengers over rutted, muddy, snowy roads was pressed into service as a stagecoach.

In the winter of 1939-40, in the snowbound hamlet of Columbine, Cyrus Hartzell's horse-drawn hay sled, with a partial Conestoga-style canvas cover for the passengers, made a serviceable stagecoach. Even Burkie Byer's two-wheeled horse cart with scarcely any room for passengers would do in a pinch.

Of course, if the Images of America series is meant to inform readers of how their town's history shapes modern life, then the Ellises' book has to chronicle the history of skiing here. Although the opening chapter is devoted to Ski Town USA, the overall book is more about the rise of western civilization in the Yampa Valley.

There are images of schoolteachers, miners, logging flumes, railroad trestles, Ute Indians, a 1920s horse packing trip to Upper Island Lake in the Flat Tops, pugilists, cowhands and World War II-era cheerleaders.

What will this fall's City Council candidates think when they read that back in the day, the town council issued an edict banning horse racing on public streets on Sunday mornings?

The book is deliberately light on text, but it isn't lacking in that regard. There are detailed introductions to each chapter, and photo captions are rich with historical details -- in particular, the names of the people pictured.

Judging from the prose in the book's introduction, which rises to the level of poetry, either the Ellises disciplined themselves to keep the text brief or the publisher insisted on it -- or both.

The Ellises are professional ornithologists who have authored nearly 200 scientific articles and books. This one is a gift to the Yampa Valley.

Product Details

Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date:
Images of America Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.52(w) x 9.26(h) x 0.34(d)

Meet the Author

Authors David and Cathy Ellis are professional ornithologists and authors of nearly 200 scientific articles and books. They write here about David's first love, the valleys of the Yampa and Elk Rivers and the surrounding mountains. Enlisting the Tread of Pioneers Museum, the Museum of Northwestern Colorado, and smaller collections, they weave an alluring tale of war paint and longhorns, gold and grass, and above all--a blanket of snow.

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