Pedal into the Past: Historic Steamboat bike tour
Steamboat Springs — Want a great way to explore some of Steamboat’s colorful, Western history? Take the town’s historic bike tour, which rolls you by 18 properties representing the town’s fascinating past.
Bike Tour Destinations:
1. Initiated in 1914, Howelsen Hill is the oldest ski area in continuing use west of the Mississippi. The Hill is home to the Winter Carnival and has been the site for numerous national and world record-breaking ski jumps. (285 Howelsen Parkway)
2. The Yampa Valley Electric Association was formed in 1940 as part of FDR’s nationwide program of rural electrification. The 1956 YVEA Building was designed by famed architect Eugene Sternberg as the headquarters for its growing customers. The building boasts the prairie-style roof and distinctive stone façade. (32 10th Street)
3. Designated on the Local Register, Lithia Spring’s milky waters contain a high content of lithium, a mineral used to treat the mood swings of manic depression. The spring’s stone entrance columns were built by H.W. Gossard, who planned to bottle and sell the waters as “Miraquelle” in the 1930s. (700 Lithia Spring Road)
4. The Italianate Steamboat Springs Depot was a necessity for the coming of the passenger service railroad. Built in 1909 by architect Frank Edbrooke, the Depot was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Across the street lies the town’s namesake Steamboat Spring, once a bubbling geyser quieted forever by the construction of the railroad. Folklore has it that fur trappers heard what they thought was a Steamboat on the river, only to find this spring. (1000 13th Street)
5. Steamboat Springs’ founder, James Crawford, frequented the Iron Spring for its mineral waters and built his cabin close to the spring. His granddaughter, Lulita Crawford Pritchett, described growing up on Iron Spring lemonade which the family made by mixing half a lemon with a tablespoon of sugar and then adding Iron Spring water to create a carbonated fizz. (1300 Lincoln Avenue)
6. Now home of The Laundry restaurant, the Steamboat Laundry Building constructed in 1910 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. The building needed two additions for the growth of the washing service that served northwestern Colorado until the 1960s. (127 11th Street)
7. Designed by architect Eugene Sternberg, the Hillcrest Apartments were constructed in 1958 and embrace several elements of the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Usonian style as evidenced by the building’s integration with the landscape. The distinctive roof lines also are seen in the YVEA Building, the Butterfly Building in Little Toots Park, and other residences designed by Sternberg. (302 11th Street)
8. In 1900, the Carver family built the Carver Power Plant next to their house to provide electricity to the local population. The system’s steam was used to heat nearby schools and residences. (124 10th Street)
9. Bishop Spalding started St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at the turn of the century. The church building was constructed and consecrated in 1913. The native sandstone used in the construction came from the Steamboat Town and Quarry Company on Emerald Mountain. (846 Oak Street)
10. The Queen Anne-style building that houses the Tread of Pioneers Museum was built in 1908 by Ernest Campbell. The Museum features a ski gallery, a Ute Indian exhibit, and an original passenger stage coach from the late 1800s. (800 Oak Street)
11. The Routt County National Bank building was erected in 1919 and built by stone mason Carl Howelsen, a Norwegian immigrant renowned for his influence in bringing skiing to Steamboat. The upper floor was designed as a meeting place for the Masonic Lodge. (802 Lincoln Avenue)
12. The Christian Science Church was built in 1934, after the Christian Science Society had been meeting in Steamboat for nearly three decades. Mrs. James Crawford, pioneer mother of the community, was one of its charter members. (639 Oak Street)
13. A striking visual element in residential Steamboat Springs, the Seventh Street District, from Pine Street to Laurel Street, is eligible for designation, characterized by Craftsman and Bungalow type houses.
14. Constructed in 1910, the Craig House exemplifies the heritage and development of Routt County and is associated with James Lafayette Norvell, considered the county’s first entrepreneur as a developer and cattle buyer. Norvell is also credited with developing parts of Hayden and Craig. The house is an excellent local example of the Bungalow style of architecture. (204 Hill Street)
15. The Routt County Courthouse represents the development of Routt County, its government, and the establishment of Steamboat as the permanent county seat. A simplified Classical Revival building with Beaux Arts influences constructed in 1922-1923, it was designed by master architect Robert Kenneth Fuller. (522 Lincoln Avenue)
16. Nominated and listed on the State Register of Historic Properties and the Local Register, the Rabbit Ears Motel Sign has been greeting visitors along Highway 40 since 1953. It remains an enduring and established visual feature of the community. (201 Lincoln Avenue)
17. The 130-acre Legacy Ranch District serves as a gateway to the city and reminds citizens and visitors of the significant role that high country farming and ranching played in the development of Colorado. The intact, operable ranch and continues to serve in this capacity. (35435 Hwy 40)
18. The Mesa School was built in 1916 by Art Gumprecht, serving grades one through eight until rural school district consolidation was completed in 1959. The schoolhouse was restored by Historic Routt County in 2000 and gifted to the City for use as a community meeting center. (33985 Hwy 40)
Thanks to the City of Steamboat Springs Planning Department and the Steamboat Springs Historic Preservation Commission for providing the information for this section.
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It was a love story that brought Jason Erwin to Steamboat Springs from Nashville, Tennessee.