Tread of Pioneers in Steamboat puts 6,000 historic photos on Web

Tom Ross


Search the Tread of Pioneers’ photo collection at


Search the Tread of Pioneers’ photo collection at

— Thousands of images of Steamboat’s past that most people have never glimpsed now are easy to search and study at a Tread of Pioneers Museum Web page.

Candice Bannister, the museum’s executive director, said Friday that she expects the newly established database of images to expand the reach of the museum.

“We’ve always had a fair amount of photo research and requests, but since the database has been up, we’ve already received a record number of requests,” Bannister said.

The requests come from attorneys wanting photo documentation of previously existing conditions, on a piece of land for example, to people researching their family’s genealogy and businesses seeking large reprints to decorate stores and restaurants. People also can acquire prints for home decoration.

The public debut of the photo database represents more than a decade of effort scanning high-resolution versions of the images. Bannister said that effort was undertaken with a careful eye to balance preservation with digitization and public access to the collection.

The museum archives original photographs, Bannister said, but they can’t be expected to last forever, and digitization is a way to extend their lives. The scanning process was underwritten by a grant from the Lufkin Family Endowment of the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, and took 11 years. During that time, more images were being donated to the museum in the form of photo albums and scrapbooks.

In addition to museum staff, local photographers Bill Stewart, of Stewart Photo; Paul Steele Jaconetta, of Natural Light Images; and Ken Proper, of Proper Exposure, worked on the scanning. Former museum volunteer David Dykaar worked on the database, and Web designer David Harlan, of DMH Graphics, helped design and create the website. Joel Schulman, of PhotoGraphicsArt, who prints most of the museum images to fulfill requests from the public, provided high-resolution drum scans.

Browsing the collection

Bannister said she asked the Web designers to create an experience for museum patrons that is similar to online shopping. There are multiple ways to search the database. One can enter a name or a subject or even a date in a search engine window. Or, browsers may choose to use pull-down tabs organized by category.

While private individuals and businesses can acquire images, it’s not a free-for-all. The images that appear on a browser’s computer screen are watermarked with the name of the museum to discourage impromptu downloads, Bannister said.

People who want to acquire a print of a photograph or license a commercial or publishing use of an image in the collection will need to sign a usage agreement and/or a contract. Some of that can be accomplished online. In other cases, they will need to discuss their needs with Bannister and agree to a fee.

The Web page at has a prominent bar near the top of the page allowing them to link to the usage agreement and contract.

To order a print for display in your home, click on your chosen image to open it and make a note of its identifying number. Click on the bar that read: “Click to order.” Fill out your personal information and click on “Photographic Usage and Contract,” and download the PDF to see pricing and fill in your order.

Prices range from $20 for a 5-by-7 to $50 for a 13-by-19.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email

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