Tales from the Tread: Bloom where you are planted

Tamra Monahan/For the Steamboat Today
Historic photo, courtesy of Tread of Pioneers Museum.
Courtesy Photo

— Steamboat Springs is full of wonderful historic stories and places, but how many of us take the time to learn about this town we call home?

We drive past the Furlong Building on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Eighth Street and notice the unique brick work along its top, but how many people know that Carl Howelsen was the stone mason who created those intricate stone patterns or that his first ski jump was on Woodchuck Hill, where Colorado Mountain College now sits?

A great way to explore our fascinating history is through the Tread of Pioneers Museum’s upcoming Downtown Historic Walking Tours at 5 p.m. Friday and at 10 a.m. Oct. 18.

As a recent newcomer to Steamboat, I often wondered about the history of the town and its beautiful old buildings. I’ve learned quite a bit about Steamboat working at the Tread of Pioneers Museum, but this taste of the town’s history piqued my interest even more. I wanted to know more about the Maxwell Building and its old-fashioned soda fountain and why the restaurant in the old building on 11th Street is called The Laundry.

To answer my questions, I took the museum’s Downtown Historical Walking Tour with tour guide Marianne Capra, who is much more than a mere guide. Dressed as a pioneer woman, Marianne not only showed us the historic buildings, she made the past come to life. Through masterful storytelling and an incredible knowledge of all things Steamboat, she wove the tale, both historic and geologic, of Steamboat Springs, sprinkling in astounding facts and great stories.

Starting at the museum, Marianne gave the tour group a brief history of the Yampa Valley, including information about the Utes, fur trappers, homesteaders and the abundant wildlife that brought people here. Describing this valley where wolverines and grizzlies once roamed, she held us spellbound with a tale of young Logan Crawford who saw five grizzly bears in one day as he walked through what is now downtown Steamboat.

Standing next to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Marianne pointed to a beautiful yellow rose bush, one of many that dot the town’s landscape, and she recounted the extraordinary story of how Maggie Crawford brought a small cutting in a covered wagon from her home in Missouri across the plains to the Yampa Valley. Maggie had not wanted to be a pioneer so when faced with moving West, she chose the “women’s gold” to plant in her new home because, as she told her granddaughter Lulita, “My personal motto in life is to bloom where you are planted,” and that is what she did.

We made our way down Lincoln Avenue listening to stories of one of the oldest buildings, the Harwig, the old Steamboat Pilot building and the Lorenz building. By the end of the tour, I had a greater understanding and appreciation for my new hometown. Now, when I walk along Lincoln Avenue, I can look at the historic buildings and smile because I know their secrets.

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