Historic stagecoach returns home to Hahn’s Peak
Steamboat Springs — It’s been more than 100 years since the green- and yellow-wheeled stagecoach that serviced the final leg of the Wolcott to Hahn’s Peak route was last seen on the streets of Hahn’s Peak.
But on Wednesday morning, the old stage rolled back into town.
There is no question that the last time it arrived in this small North Routt County town, it was being pulled by horses and not loaded on the back of a flat-bed trailer pulled by a pickup truck. But the folks on hand for its arrival Wednesday were happy to see it, nonetheless.
“I’ve been waiting for this day for a year,” Hahn’s Peak Area Historical Society President Marge Eardley said. “The Lowell Whiteman School donated it to us last year, and the Hicks and Yeagers moved it from Whiteman to storage, and they restored it.”
After spending the last 60 years parked outside the Lowell Whiteman School near Steamboat Springs, the stagecoach now will be kept in a recent addition to the Historical Society’s pole barn, which houses the museum’s mining artifacts.
Eardley is hoping the stagecoach will become a big attraction for the Historical Society’s main street interests, which include the museum, pole barn and the Hahn’s Peak Schoolhouse. The structures are open from noon to 4 p.m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The museum also opens on holidays during the winter months.
It was 1888 when the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad line reached Wolcott, and by 1890, a small group of entrepreneurs launched a stagecoach route with passenger service between Wolcott and Hahn’s Peak. For $6.50, passengers could embark on the 16-hour trip, which took two days. By 1900, the stagecoach line was known as the Wolcott, Steamboat Springs and Hahn’s Peak Stage Company with trips scheduled daily.
For several decades, the stagecoach line carried both passengers and mail from the train stop in Wolcott through northern Colorado with stops in McCoy, Yampa, Phippsburg, Sidney and Steamboat Springs. The stagecoaches were pulled by teams of four to six horses and could carry up to 14 passengers with many riding on the roof.
But when the rail service reached Steamboat in 1908, the stagecoach line saw a dramatic drop in passenger numbers. The railroads also were authorized to carry mail, and soon, only the route between Steamboat Springs and Hahn’s Peak remained. The stagecoach line closed in 1908.
One of the line’s two stagecoaches was donated to the Tread of Pioneers Museum after the museum was established in 1959. That stagecoach was restored and was displayed in an enclosed shelter on the museum property. A few years ago, the entire display was moved to the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association offices with an interpretive sign erected nearby.
The other stagecoach sat in front of Howelsen Hill until 1953. At that time Lowell Whiteman, founder of the Lowell Whiteman Summer Camp for boys, approached the mayor of Steamboat Springs to propose that campers move the coach to the camp and restore it. The proposal was accepted, and the stagecoach found a new home where it was displayed in the school’s parking lot until last year.
Historical Society member Dean Moss said that Jim and Becky Hicks learned that the stagecoach was available and got the wheels spinning. With the help of Arianthe Stettner, the Historical Society approached Lowell Whiteman last year, and the school elected to donate the stagecoach to them.
At that point, the organization had to move quickly to find grants to build a structure to house the stagecoach.
“It’s like adding a new member to your family…where are you going to put it,” Moss said. “We applied for and were granted a cost-share grant from the Museum and Heritage Fund Advisory Board…to put on the addition to the pole barn shed.”
On Wednesday, less than an hour before the stagecoach’s arrival, a barn door was added to the part of the pole barn that will house the antique. A group of volunteers used a small lift to move the stagecoach to its new permanent home looking out onto Routt County Road 129.
The stagecoach recently got a fresh coat of paint, some much needed repairs and a new cloth top.
“This is a big day for all of us,” Eardley said. “People can see a great deal of the history here just by visiting us.”
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