Iconic Steamboat auctioneer Cookie Lockhart says everything must go
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When you walk into the old home where Lockhart Auction and Realty has operated out of at the corner of 11th and Yampa streets, you take a step into the Old West, complete with antique guns, saddles, spurs as well as a mother and daughter whose family helped shape Steamboat Springs into what it is today.
Cookie Lockhart and her daughter Jo, the home they grew up in, and each piece of memorabilia that Cookie has collected, all have a story that was on display last weekend.
Cookie Lockhart has spent her entire career selling collectibles, auctioning estates and liquidating assets that belong to other people.
This time, she was liquidating her own possessions along with some sentimental items that belonged to her father, Si Lockhart.
Cookie, who stressed she is not retiring as a professional auctioneer, has been trying to sell the Yampa Street property that she grew up on.
“It was just time, I guess, was the biggest reason” Cookie said in her legendary, deep, raspy voice. “The whole thing has turned commercial on Yampa.”
The sale finally went down in June, when Ed and Cheri Trousil bought the .24-acre property for $1.45 million. The couple owns Humble Ranch just south of Steamboat.
Cookie said she was planning to lease back space for an office, but she said the new owners changed their minds.
“They gave me very short notice, and I had to get out,” Lockhart said.
Cookie’s sale begins
To really prepare for an auction of this size, Cookie Lockhart would have liked three months.
Instead, Cookie said she had about three weeks.
“We didn’t have a lot of time,” she said.
Cookie began marketing and pulled together a team composed of renowned auctioneers.
“I hired the best professional ringmen,” Cookie said. “They were all there.”
All together, Lockhart said she spent about $30,000 to rent a tent and put on the sale.
The weather for the two-day, weekend auction could not have been worse with cold weather and rain.
“I think people are more scared of rain than snow,” Lockhart said.
A Denver Broncos game and Colorado Rockies playoff game Sunday also did not help attendance at the auction.
The legendary Cookie
Cookie Lockhart is a legendary lady known for her signature Western attire and distinctive voice.
“I was walking down the street, and I heard Cookie’s voice,” Steamboat artist Susan Schiesser said during the first day of the auction. “It’s just a piece of Steamboat history, and I had to stay. She’s just a landmark.”
Cookie always wears a cowboy hat and is always dressed to the nines with flashy glasses and shoes.
She has been described as a trailblazer in the auctioneer community.
Cookie was the first woman to be inducted into the National Auctioneers Association Hall of Fame. That occurred in 2007 in San Diego, California.
“A thousand people stood up when they said my name,” Cookie said in 2007. “I about passed out.”
Cookie was the only woman to graduate from auction school in 1963. There were 126 men in her class.
Cookie then joined Lockhart Auction and Realty, which her father Si Lockhart started.
Thousands of auctions later, Cookie takes a lot of pride in her career and, especially, for being the first woman inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“I’m still the first one,” Cookie said. “I mean, I’ll always be the first one. There’s only one first. You know what I mean.”
150 years behind
After the first day of the auction ended, Cookie’s daughter, Joe Lockhart, talked about the historic property along Yampa Street, which the Tread of Pioneers has a picture of that was taken in 1894.
Si was a teamster sent to Steamboat in the 1930s by the banks to help people not lose everything when they were foreclosed on.
“I remember seeing families leave in a station wagon with the little bit of money they’d get,” Jo said.
She explained that Si and his wife Lois chose the location on Yampa Street because it was next to water.
Jo said they truly lived the Western way of life.
“We lived 150 years behind the years,” Jo said. “People in other parts of the country were watching Roy Rogers, and we were living it.”
The Lockharts had 80 acres between downtown and the mountain, and Si had horses at the Yampa Street home.
“Over here, we had a big barn and hay in it, and he’d work with them,” Jo said while walking around the property. “He taught them how to behave.”
Jo, who is also an auctioneer, said Steamboat was a popular destination for tourists in the summer, and their lives revolved around horses.
Jo and Cookie Lockhart would take groups of tourist up to Strawberry Park Hot Springs, Fish Creek Falls and up Emerald Mountain.
“We’d alway have about 20 head of horses right here in this yard,” Jo said.
In addition to being an auctioneer, Si would outfit farmers and ranchers with teams of horses.
Before purchasing the Yampa Street property, the Lockharts rented it.
In her files, Cookie pulled out a letter her father wrote to her mother in 1940. It reads: “Dear Sweetheart and all. I sold six cows and made enough to make the payment on the house, and I am sending $80 to the bank to cover the check I sent the landlady…. Your’s sweet, Daddy.”
The letter shows how important it was to Si to take care of his family.
“That to me is just a heartwarming story,” Cookie said.
At the auction, Cookie had 1,500 items for sale.
“Three hundred items is a good-sized auction,” Cookie said. “To try and sell 1,500 is nearly impossible.”
After the first day, there was still a lot of stuff in the house, and Cookie was showing signs of being nervous.
“I’m supposed to be out by next Saturday, and I don’t know how I’m going to do it,” Cookie said. “I guess it’s pretty depressing because we don’t have anywhere to go with this, and it’s not like it was supposed to be.”
One by one, the items were sold and cleared out, including Cookies old fancy shoes and Si’s 12-gauge shotgun and rifle.
“A lot of this stuff was her dad’s,” auctioneer and Cookie’s friend Vaughn Long said. “There’s some cool stuff.”
In all, 1,000 items were sold. The item that sold for the most money was a moose painting by Don Rodell that went for $7,000.
Cookie was most surprised by the admiration people showed her.
“They were paying $50, $75 for pictures of me,” Cookie said.
After the auction was over, Cookie had help and spent the rest of the week packing up her remaining things and moving them to a large storage unit.
She then said goodbye to the Lockhart property.
“Anytime we lose a longstanding local business like Lockhart’s, we lose a part of the fabric of our community and how they’ve helped shape who we are,” Tread of Pioneers Executive Director Candice Bannister said.
Jo was able to hold on to some of her grandfather’s old wagon wheels.
“I’m going to go out of my way to keep as much of the Western heritage as I can,” Jo said. “We all need to do our part to keep the Western heritage.”
As for the future of the building, Bannister said anyone who buys a historic property has a lot to consider, including the value of the property to the community.
“It’s a huge responsibility,” Bannister said.
The new owners were out of town and unavailable for an interview.
“Our intent is to protect the existing structure from the weather elements until a further structural analysis can be done,” Ed Trousil wrote in a message. “We are still evaluating all of our options at this time.”
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Steamboat Springs Transit is currently in the process of securing seasonal housing for its winter employees, and transit staff members are also looking to build long-term housing on land the city owns.