South Routt Town of Yampa on the rebound after Royal Hotel fire
Yampa — The community of Yampa was bustling on several fronts last weekend as residents come together to freshen up the historic South Routt town in the aftermath of the January fire that claimed a historic landmark, the Royal Hotel.
More than 120 people showed up for the annual Routt County Pioneer Picnic on June 7. They enjoyed historic tours conducted by Rita Herold on the back of a wagon pulled by a vintage farm tractor driven by Lynn Whaley, of Phippsburg. The tours were hosted by the Yampa Egeria Historic Society and Oak Creek/Phippsburg Historic Society.
Early in the tour, Herold pointed out the tiny historic Yampa town jail where the cells were originally made of two-by-fours.
“The jail was not for hardened criminals,” she explained. “It was meant for the inebriated. The hardened criminals went to Hahn’s Peak and the Bear Cage.”
Herold was also careful to point out that, until 1889, Yampa was known as Egeria.
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In spite of the lingering remains of the 112-year-old hotel, the Town of Yampa looks brighter this summer thanks to the many flower containers distributed by volunteers working with the newly formed “Friends of Yampa Gateway.” Closing the South Routt community loop, the flowers came from the greenhouse cared for by students in the Future Farmers of America chapter at Soroco High School under the supervision of Jay Whaley. Margaret Shipman, with help from Donna Corrigan, was instrumental in organizing the volunteers, who planted the 24 flower barrels or “earth boxes.”
Rural Yampa resident Noreen Moore said Wednesday that Friends of Yampa Gateway is a limited liability company operating under the umbrella of the South Routt Economic Development Council in order to benefit from its tax exempt status. The group’s next project is to put a fresh coat of paint on streetlight poles in Yampa and to raise funds by offering area ranchers the opportunity to have their cattle brand painted on the bases of the light poles.
Notable Steamboat Springs artist Chula Beauregard has been commissioned to paint a mural to be installed on the Northrups’ metal building on the east side of downtown. Walker said Wednesday she intends to begin painting the mural in her studio June 17 in order to have it installed on the building in time for the Fourth of July.
A watercolor rendering of the mural portrays cowboys on horseback playing broom polo (a Fourth of July tradition in Yampa) with the Royal Hotel in the middle ground, a trout fisherman wading in Bear River and the snow-covered Flat Tops looming in the distance.
Corrigan and Moore are also among a small group of private investors who recently purchased a series of small storefronts immediately east of the historic Antler’s Bar, known as Wassinger’s garage. The first of the three buildings was originally the Antler’s Hotel before it burned down, and the second was a hotel annex.
Moore said there are no immediate plans to refurbish the inside of the wood frame buildings, but crews are hustling to restore a false-front look to the exteriors of the buildings on Yampa’s main drag.
“We’re trying to mimic old photographs of the buildings and make it look good for the Fourth of July,” Moore said.
Herold insisted on sharing one last story about the early days in Yampa. Located roughly at the halfway point between Wolcott to the south and Steamboat Springs, Yampa made a convenient stagecoach stop, and after it was built in 1902, the Antlers Hotel was where most of the passengers bunked. However, the thrifty drivers simply tipped back a chair in the pool hall, pulled their hats over their eyes and caught some economical Zzzzz’s that way.
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