Eugene Buchanan: Night of the living berm in Steamboat Springs |

Eugene Buchanan: Night of the living berm in Steamboat Springs

More than a foot of snow overnight Thursday left snowplow berms across Routt County.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — While President Trump battles Democrats about his border wall, those of us in Steamboat Springs had another wall to contend with after last Friday’s epic dump downtown: biblical berms left by snow plows, created a veritable Great Wall of China for those trying to get to work and the slopes.

While skiers might have rejoiced at the bounty from above, it spelled mayhem for those trying to get out of their driveways. Call it The Berm That Ate Chicago, Bermzilla, Berm from the Black Lagoon, Bride of the Berm, what have you — the stories of stuck cars echoed throughout the valley, from people hosed in Tree Haus to Suburbans sidelined in Steamboat II.

“I’ve lived here for more than 20 years, and it was the worst I’ve ever seen,” said Annie Kavanaugh, who awoke to an impenetrable fortress of snow out her front door on Pine Street. “I literally had to climb up it and commando roll down the other side.”

Her alley access wasn’t any better. Private plows from the church, she said, made an even higher, shoulder-high wall, completely blocking off the car in her garage. If not for the snow-shoveling prowess of her daughter Jensen, they might still be there, surviving on their last stores of canned beef.

The infliction hit home for me when my daughter Casey backed her 2001, sticker-clad Subaru down our driveway in Fairview to make it to zero hour at school. Still snug in our footie PJs, my wife’s phone buzzed with a text from her just 30 feet away, stuck like an insect on flypaper smack dab in the middle of a chest-high snowbank at the end of the drive. She couldn’t even open the car door to get out.

Sauntering down with our shovel, cavalry to the rescue, I was spared spinal engagement by Fred the plow driver, who was plowing our neighbor’s driveway across the road and pulled her out.

“I’ve already had to pull two others out this morning,” he said, even though it was only 7 a.m. “Bad as I’ve ever seen.”

When Casey finally got to school, driving past an 18-wheeler in the ditch on 13th Street, the normally full lot only had about 10 cars in it. Everyone else was stuck hither and yonder, strewn about town like upside-down beetles.

A school bus even got stuck on Missouri Street, requiring kids to unload onto another one. And up on Blue Sage Drive, a city plow itself even got stuck. (Now that’s a tough call to make to your workmates). A lot of tardy slips were issued that day by school officials.

What the Berlin Wall did for communists, the Great Berm of Steamboat did for commuters.

But it also brought out the best in everyone, as our tow from Fred attests. They say good fences make good neighbors, and that was certainly the case here, as people far and wide chipped in to help unstick the stuck.

The Big Apple’s Wall Street was named for a 17th century barrier built to separate the Dutch and their Native American neighbors. Maybe our Day of the Berm will result in a similar pseudonym for Steamboat: Berm Town USA or Steamberm Springs, anyone?

Even if it doesn’t warrant such a nickname, just realize that while every storm cloud has a silver lining on the slopes, it also unleashes a sinister one lurking on the streets.

To reach Eugene Buchanan, call 970-871-4276 or email

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


See more