Discovery of the Yule Log in Steamboat Springs comes with mixed emotions

John F. Russell
Laura Sankey, left, and Jennifer Meeks hold up the Yule Log after finding it near the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association's building off of U.S. Highway 40. Sankey said she was thrilled to find the log, but sad that the hunt for 2014 was over for the year.
John F. Russell

— Each year, Steamboat Springs resident Laura Sankey looks forward to the hunt for the Yule Log.

“This is a great tradition for the community,” Sankey said about the Yule Log hunt. “The idea of a community treasure hunt is awesome, and this is a great way to learn about our community and Steamboat’s history.”

Each year, Sankey eagerly reads all the clues that are provided by the Tread of Pioneers Museum and published in the newspaper and comes up with locations where the log might be hidden. She has driven her car all across town chasing potential locations and has even trekked through waist-deep snow at the Brent Romick Rodeo grounds a few years ago hoping to be the first to discover the elusive log — that year she guessed wrong.

But until this year, Sankey has been unable to land Steamboat Springs’ most coveted 3-foot-long, 40-pound holiday trophy. The Yule Log is trophy that has inspired more than 30 years of clues and 30 years of searching.

But Tuesday afternoon, while running an errand, that all changed.

On the second day of the annual Yule Log hunt, Sankey discovered the hiding place underneath the glass enclosed stagecoach display at the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association office building just off U.S. Highway 40. Sankey said after finding the log, she was confronted with mixed emotions.

“On one hand I was really excited to find it,” she said. “But on the other hand I was pretty sad that I had found the log on Day 2.”

The idea that the discovery of the log would mean the end of this year’s search bothered Sankey — she had planned to spend her lunch hour trying to find the log along with co-worker Jennifer Meeks. The two already had joined efforts deciphering the clues, and they looked forward to spending an hour at lunch checking out possible hiding places.

“I was bummed, but I wasn’t bummed enough to leave it behind,” Sankey said.

Sankey said she will share the prize with Meeks.

“We actually talked about the Chamber building that morning,” Meeks said. “I’m pretty new to this game, but Laura is a veteran.”

Sankey needed to stop by Alpine Lumber to run an errand Tuesday, so she went out alone. She drove through Fetcher Park but couldn’t find any good hiding places at that location. But before leaving the area, she made one more stop at the Chamber building to check out a theory she had talked about with Meeks that morning.

At first glance, the log didn’t seem to be there.

“I almost walked away,” Sankey said. “But I knew that I would be upset if I didn’t take a second look.”

A few minutes later as she walked around the building, she caught her first glimpse of the log hiding underneath the stagecoach. She said she had to remove a few dead branches and leaves but knew almost immediately that she had found the Yule Log.

“Sure, we were a little disappointed that it got found so early,” said Katie Adams, curator at Tread of Pioneers Museum. “We had some really great clues coming up.”

Adams said the museum thinks about hiding places and clues that will help people find the Yule Log all year. She said the event is a great way to get people excited about local history and excited about the Tread of Pioneers Museum. She said most of the answers to the clues that appear in the paper can be found on the walls of the museum.

“We are happy that so many people are so excited about the Yule Log hunt,” Adams said. “We still get tons of calls, and the spirit of the event is still there.”

Sankey and Meeks said they will split the $150 in Chamber Bucks they will get for finding the log, and they are both looking forward to a little shopping spree in downtown Steamboat Springs.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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