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History displayed at museum

A visitor to the Tread of Pioneers Museum will have to take no more than three steps through the museum’s doors to learn of the role ranching has played in the history of Steamboat Springs.

It will take a few more steps for visitors to learn of how skiing, mining and some of the region’s more colorful characters helped shaped Routt County.

The Tread of Pioneers Museum is like the history of Steamboat itself — a collection of skiing, ranching and mining pioneers.

Since June, the museum has had on display in its front room an exhibit on the history of ranching. Through photographs, saddles, a ranch kitchen and written words, the exhibit explores the ranching culture in Routt County, the future of ranching and the different factors that led to its decline, museum curator Kelly Bastone said.

The museum’s front gallery is filled with old skis and the tales of former Olympians. A glass case holds one of Billy Kidd’s first Stetson cowboy hats and the coat John Steele wore for the 1933 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. Nearby sits the lighted man suit worn during Steamboat’s annual Winter Carnival, the story of Steamboat ski jump founder Carl Howelsen and an old wooden chair from a lift at the ski resort.

Bastone said the museum is a great place for skiers to learn more about the history of the ski industry, but its exhibits hold much more than skis.

“It’s a great way to get a glimpse of the town’s culture beyond the skiing component,” she said.

On the second floor of the Queen Anne styled house hangs the story of Harry Tracy, a notorious member of Butch Cassidy’s Hole in the Wall Gang. Tracy escaped from Hahn’s Peak Jail and was captured by Charles Neiman.

Neiman’s handcuffs and memorabilia from the outlaw are mixed among the guns, chuckwagon and old mailbags in the room celebrating the area’s Old West heritage.

The museum also holds late-1800s greeting cards, the bear skin coat worn by a country doctor and a traveling salesman’s box of candy.

It is a mixture of exhibits and relics that the Denver Post dubbed “the best small town museum in Colorado.” The museum sees 10,000 visitors a year.

The Foundations of Steamboat room, in an upstairs corner, also has a new exhibit looking at the Gay family. The exhibit traces the story of the long-time ranching family, which continues to ranch their land in Pleasant Valley.

The museum will feature its annual Festival of Trees exhibit, which will house Christmas trees decorated by different community groups. The exhibit runs from Nov. 19 through Nov. 23. Music and events will be held throughout the festival.

This winter, the museum will also display watercolor paintings from Lulu Crawford, a member of Steamboat’s founding family. The paintings of wildflowers and other plants will hang in the parlor room.

Admission to the museum is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $1 for children younger than 12 and free for infants. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday. n


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