Memorable dates in the 100-year history of Howelsen Hill
Source: “The History of Skiing at Steamboat Springs” by Sureva Towler.
Pre 1915: Town of Steamboat Springs founder James Crawford formed The Steamboat Springs Company with a group of men from Boulder to operate the hot springs, swimming pool and rodeo grounds at what is now Howelsen Hill.
1914: With the blessing of the state of Colorado, the town planned to turn the 40-acre pine-clad hill into what they hoped would be the “finest and most attractive game park in the country.” Elk Park opened in March 1914 with three cow elk and nine bulls that were chased off Copper Ridge, tied and hauled to town on sleds. The town marshal maintained the park, which was surround by an eight-foot fence.
1914-15: Carl Howelsen spearheaded the effort to build a large ski jump on the steep north-facing slope overlooking the rodeo grounds.
1917: The hill, previously known as Quarry Mountain or Crawford Mountain, was named for Howelsen.
1920: The confined elk herd at Howelsen Hill grew ornery in confinement, and the last of them were shipped to the city park in Leadville in 1920.
1938: The Boat Tow, the first ski lift at Howelsen Hill, opened in January. Resembling a sleigh with its runners, the lift seated eight people and was powered by the engine and transmission from a Ford Model T.
1940: Ski jumper Gordon Wren supervised reconstruction of the large ski jump with a crew of volunteers at no cost to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
1941: The Winter Sports Club built a “permanent” ice skating rink with water piped across the river from the Fish Hatchery (where Aurum restaurant is located now).
1944: The Boy Scouts improved the old slalom and downhill courses. They also built a new beginner trail and added large curves to Wren’s Run. A toboggan course, jumps for younger ski jumpers and 40-foot light poles were installed.
1946: Howelsen Hill hosted the National Ski Jumping Championships for the first time — the same year the original base lodge was constructed.
1952: A downhill run of “championship quality” was built on Howelsen Hill.
1960-62: Rudi and Karl Schnackenberg managed Howelsen Hill, keeping it vital in an era when the town of Steamboat pulled back from supporting maintenance at Howelsen to focus on other capital projects.
1971: The International Olympic Committee announced that Steamboat had been selected to host much of the 1976 Winter Olympic Nordic competitions. The town was to have received $100,000 for improvements to Howelsen Hill plus federal funds to build housing for 600 cross-country competitors on the college campus on Woodchuck Hill. However, Colorado voters rejected the Olympics, and none of that came to pass.
1972: The wooden takeoff and transition of the 90-meter ski jump burned in May. It was never determined if the fire was started by people protesting the Olympics or by vagrant “hippies.”
1993: The roof of the newly remodeled and expanded Howelsen Hill Lodge collapsed. The new addition was rebuilt and allowed Howelsen to host media and race officials during Nordic Combined World Cup events.
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