Steamboat ghost stories: Kindred spirits at the Tread of Pioneers Museum

Sophie Dingle/For Steamboat Living
Tread of Pioneers Museum.

The Tread of Pioneers Museum has long hosted events highlighting Steamboat’s ghost stories, including haunted tours of the Crawford house. But the museum itself is home to a few kindred spirits of its own.

 Sixteen-year Executive Director Candice Bannister recounts one experience in 2003 in the Foundations of Steamboat exhibit room. “I’d been installing the exhibit for several days and was familiar with what quiet versus people walking around upstairs sounded like,” she says. “At one point, I heard very clear footsteps coming down the hall and so I fully expected to see someone. But no one was there. I immediately went downstairs and asked the front desk volunteer if anyone had been in the museum recently; she said it had been over an hour since the last guest had left.”

Former board member Jayne Hill also recounts a story from when only she and a previous director were in the building. “I was working with several small pictures, trying to hang them level and secure,” she says. “I was focused on that wall, but felt somebody or something enter the room, pause and then continue down the hallway to the main gallery. I thought it was the director, so I didn’t turn around. Ten minutes later, she came in the door behind me and I asked her how she had come in that door after passing behind me to the gallery just minutes before. She said she just got here. We searched the main gallery and adjacent house, but found no trace of anyone else.”

Two decades ago, a painter reportedly had another poltergeist scare. Completing a project late in the evening in the Native American Arts exhibit, he was almost finished when he heard someone coming up the stairs. He called out but got no answer. The next morning the director checked on the newly painted area, and found a ladder, paint tray and roller in front of the nearly completed job. When she called to ask why he hadn’t finished, he replied he wasn’t coming back; he never returned, not even to collect his abandoned ladder.

For more Steamboat ghost stories, pick up a free copy of Steamboat Living magazine at the annual Best of the Boat celebration, Thursday, November 9 at The Steamboat Grand or look for a copy inserted in Steamboat Today Saturday, November 11. 

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.