Panelists will share stories of Routt County’s past
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Growing up in Routt County at a time when most roads were dirt and gravel and switchboards were used to connect, life was a little different.
“We learned how to take calls that were coming in when we worked the old switchboard,” said Dennis Lodwick, whose parents bought the Clark Store in 1955, which later sold to Steve Stranahan in 1986. “We started to memorize the phones ringing and who the call was supposed to go to. The Fetchers had three short rings and one long one.”
While switchboards may be a thing of the past, Lodwick said it’s the stories of the people and places of the county’s past that need to be remembered.
As part of Celebrate Agriculture Appreciation Week, a panel of longtime locals who have a rich hands-on history of growing up in the Yampa Valley will present “Storytelling: Historic Agriculture in the Yampa Valley” from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday in Library Hall. The free event is sponsored by the Community Agriculture Alliance, Bud Werner Memorial Library and Tread of Pioneers Museum.
Panelists include: Lodwick, who offers the perspective of growing up in North Routt; Nadene Utter Arroyo, who grew up in the Cow Creek area; Verna Decker Whaley, who grew up in the Yampa area on her parents’ homestead; and moderator Marsha Daughenbaugh, executive director of Community Agriculture Alliance who grew up on a ranch west of Steamboat Springs.
“The valley has a lot of historic value. Just look at the ranchers that are here and what they created,” said Lodwick, who even remembers helping build the first ski lift on Mount Werner. “We lose sight of the heritage of the valley to tourism and development, and it’s so sad for the valley to lose that.
“Even though we are part of the development, we need to preserve the historic heritage of the valley,” he added.
Each year, the event features topics as varied as homesteading, ranching, farming, rural schools, community life and skiing.
“Routt County’s history is so rich,” Daughenbaugh said. “The personal stories people have to tell are important, and, to hear someone who experienced first hand how Routt County used to be, it’s important we spend time listening to these stories, or else it will be lost.”
Daughenbaugh said each panelist will offer a different perspective.
“All are authentic people and their stories are authentic, and they are worth coming out to hear what they have to say,” she said.
Monday night’s panel discussion is just one of the events planned in conjunction with Celebration Agriculture Appreciation Week, which will be celebrated through Saturday, March 24. Visit communityagalliance.org for a complete schedule of events.
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On a sunny morning in October, 50 people either walked or ran 5 kilometers along Routt County Road 44, in hopes of winning a gift certificate for some locally grown beef.