How to celebrate Routt County history during National Preservation Month

Crossan’s Market in Yampa in 2014 before rehabilitating the building’s exterior and in 2017, after exterior rehabilitation. Over 12 years, the Market has been revitalized into a community hub, serving as the town’s visitor center and town hall, among other things.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — From the old mine shanties to the whispering pines of Routt National Forest and every historic building in between, local historic preservation organizations hope to celebrate the places that Routt County cherishes for May’s National Preservation Month.

Take a photo to participate in This Place Matters

In May, the Steamboat Springs Historic Preservation Commission, Historic Routt County, Main Street Steamboat and the Tread of Pioneers Museum are launching an effort to highlight the places that are meaningful to the community — and worth preserving — as part of the “This Place Matters” campaign.  

The social media campaign asks residents to post a photo holding a “This Place Matters” sign at the place that matters most to them, share a few sentences about why it matters and post it to social media with the hash tags #thisplacematters and #steamboatsnaps.

“Whether you love soaking at Strawberry Park, eating, shopping, running into friends in downtown Steamboat, hiking and biking in Routt National Forest or taking scenic drives to scope all the ranches around the county, you’re encountering places steeped in history and stories everywhere you go,” Historic Routt County Executive Director Emily Katzman wrote in an email to Steamboat Pilot & Today. “These places matter. They define our communities and our way of life. It’s important to consider what our towns and county might look and feel like if those places were gone.”

Katzman hasn’t quite decided what place she’ll choose to highlight as her place that matters. Yampa’s revitalized Crossan’s Market is among her favorite historic buildings, but she might choose one of the mineral springs, which she said has drawn people to the valley for a 100 years — including Katzman herself.

Tread of Pioneers Museum Curator Katie Adams is working to assemble an exhibit that will include community-submitted “This Place Matters” photos.

She hopes to get the property owners’ permission to take her “This Place Matters” photo in front of Steamboat’s last false front building, which once sat on Lincoln Avenue. It was moved and is now tucked away in an alley in Old Town.

Lincoln Avenue from about Fifth to 11th streets is a National Historic District. According to the National Parks Service, the building that holds Harwigs is the oldest in the district, built to house a drugstore around 1886. During the month of May, new banners on Lincoln Avenue will highlight this district.

At a glance

How to participate in the “This Place Matters” campaign:

  1. Pick a place that matters. There are no limits or restrictions: anywhere in Routt County.
  2. Download and print a “This Place Matters” sign at the bottom of this webpage or by clicking here.
  3. Snap a photo of yourself with the “This Places Matters” sign at the place that matters to you.
  4. Share a few sentences about why This Place Matters
  5. Share your photo on social media with the hashtags #thisplacematters and #steamboatsnaps.

That’s where Mainstreet Steamboat Executive Director Lisa Popovich is looking to as she chooses her place that matters.  

“It’s like asking someone who’s your favorite child,” she said of choosing a place. “I don’t know. It might just be downtown in general  — the historic district — because I can’t name a place that matters more to me than my downtown … It’s the heart of our community.”

Popovich said it’ll be interesting to see what people choose as places that matter.

The end goal “way down the line” is a city ordinance aimed at preserving these places, she added.

“We don’t have any mechanism in place in Steamboat Springs to prevent places that we think are so wonderful from disappearing,” she said. “For example, someone could potentially come downtown and buy one of our historic buildings and tear it down, even if it’s on the national register, because we don’t have any laws in place or any ordinance in place to prevent that from happening.”

Visit the Tread of Pioneers Museum

The community photos shared as part of the campaign will be incorporated into “This Place Matters: The Economic, Cultural and Environmental Power of Heritage and Place,” an exhibit highlighting historic preservation in Routt County at the Tread of Pioneers Museum.

In addition to community photos, the exhibit will feature a discussion space where visitors can weigh in on places that matter to them, a timeline of historic preservation efforts in Steamboat and a by-the-numbers exhibit explaining the value of historic preservation, Adams said. It will also explore local preservation success stories and an exhibit called “This Place Mattered” will be dedicated to unique structures that have been lost due to demolition.

The exhibit will open during the First Friday Art Walk on June 7.

The Museum will re-open on Tuesday, April 30, after spring cleaning and maintenance.

You can learn more about Steamboat’s historic buildings and the people who built them anytime by completing the museum’s downtown scavenger hunt. Visit the museum to pick up a scavenger hunt form to participate in the site-to-site scavenger hunt or download the form at

Listen to Dana Crawford’s presentation about award-winning preservation efforts

Preservationist Dana Crawford will close out National Preservation Month with a free presentation at 5:30 p.m. May 20 at the Chief Theater. Crawford organized investors to establish LoDo’s Larimer Square as Denver’s first Historic District in the early 1960s. More recently, she helped orchestrate the redevelopment of Denver’s Union Station.

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

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