Film series offers new perspective on local history |

Film series offers new perspective on local history

Taken in 1916, this photo from the Tread of Pioneers Museum archives shows a snapshot of Steamboat's skiing history.
Courtesy Photo

— Within 20 seconds of viewing historic footage, a newfound appreciation of Ski Town USA is unearthed.

At least, that’s what Katie Adams has experienced in her role as curator at the Tread of Pioneers Museum.

“There are pieces of footage that I’ve come across over the past few years and thought, ‘This is so neat, people have to see this,’” she said. “In just a few seconds, one of these films can evoke so much and so many memories or stories.”

For the first time, the Tread of Pioneers Museum has produced a Winter Film Series from footage that was donated to the museum throughout many years. Some of the vintage films were produced professionally, and others were home movies.

The first showing will premiere at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Chief Theater, and then every third Tuesday from now until March, there will be additional films with different themes shown at the historic theater on Lincoln Avenue.

The first film, “Ski! A Century of Skiing in Colorado,” produced by Rocky Mountain PBS, will describe how skiing got started in the state of Colorado with material from Steamboat and the state archives.

Not only does the series offer a way to share the content that is stored in the archives, but it brings that collection outside museum walls.

“It’s like opening somebody’s attic and sharing people’s memories the way it was,” Tread of Pioneers Executive Director Candice Bannister said.

For 10 years, the museum has worked to transfer footage from 8-millimeter or 16-millimeter reels onto DVDs to allow visitors and locals the opportunity to view that footage in the museum’s research center.

“This is about getting those old films out and telling our local history in a new way,” Adams said.

The content in the films ranges from local Olympians discussing the founding of Steamboat Ski Area to “throwback” promotional films, including the 1958 Universal Studios production of “Ski Town USA!,” and even a film to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Howelsen Hill with the “Hill of Champions: the Story of Howelsen Hill” by F.M. Smokey Vandergrift.

Vandergrift’s film, which won first place at the International Ski Film Festival in the early 1990s, includes some of the earliest film footage of Winter Carnival dating back to 1928.

“It gives visitors and locals a sense of place,” Vandergrift said. “I felt it was important that they got some sense of history of the town and why we have Winter Carnivals and where it came from.”

To view a listing of the films along with descriptions, visit the Tread of Pioneers Museum’s website.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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