Tales from the Tread: Arnold Barn is on the move

After three years of tireless effort, the historic Arnold Barn — standing next to the Meadows Parking Lot — will be moved to its new home at the intersection of Mount Werner Road and Mount Werner Circle this fall. The community partnerships, collaboration and grassroots efforts to set this project in motion cannot be understated.

The barn is an irreplaceable symbol of the past and present interplay of our local ranching heritage and ski industry. Walter Arnold built his dairy barn in 1928 at the base of Mount Werner (then known as Storm Mountain) before the ski area existed. The barn was the centerpiece of the Arnold family’s 160-acre ranch and dairy farm for more than 30 years.

In 1961, the Arnolds retired from agriculture. The newly formed Storm Mountain Ski Corp. purchased the property to create access to the fledgling resort. For many years, the barn was used for ski area storage and a backdrop for ski advertising photos.

Over the years, the hand-made wooden butterflies that adorned the barn from the 1980s faded from sight, and the ownership of the property changed hands multiple times. The rest of the farm buildings eventually disappeared. The open fields were developed into roads, a parking lot, condos and a man-made wetland.

In 2001, the barn parcel was sold and the ownership of the property subsequently changed more. By 2007, the Arnold Barn had been identified as a major Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority project, but the effort languished. Meanwhile, the barn suffered from neglect and slowly sank into the earth.

Save Arnold Barn, a community action group led by concerned residents, architects, builders, Historic Routt County and the Tread of Pioneers Museum, formed in 2016 with the mission to galvanize efforts to save the deteriorating barn. The group brought the barn’s plight to the attention of Steamboat Springs City Council resulting in the previous owners of the barn agreeing to fund the emergency stabilization of the structure. Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. agreed to accept ownership of the barn, and the stabilization of the barn for winter was completed in 2017.

Since then, the Steamboat Grand Homeowners Association has generously agreed to allow the Arnold Barn to be moved into its property at the Knoll, and Ski Corp. will maintain the barn as a welcoming and accessible landmark that celebrates Routt County’s agricultural and ski heritage. The Arnold Barn’s move and preservation is being funded by the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority, with the support of City Council, as well as many private donations of time, talent and money.

Across the nation, heritage and preservation projects like the Arnold Barn are growing economies and contributing to the vibrancy of communities. Creating a sense of place, showcasing our authentic skiing and ranching heritage, preserving the legacy of the Arnold family and contributing to our cultural vitality is key for the future of sustainable tourism and makes Steamboat memorable and competitive in the resort marketplace.

To learn more about the Arnold Barn project, visit

This column is courtesy of the Tread of Pioneers Museum.

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