Tales from the Tread: Discover history of skiing in Colorado | SteamboatToday.com

Tales from the Tread: Discover history of skiing in Colorado


Candice Bannister
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Carl Howelsen, second to right, poses with ski jumpers. (Photo courtesy of the Tread of Pioneers Museum)

The Tread of Pioneers Museum and the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club are partnering to host “The History of Skiing in Colorado” with esteemed professor of history, Duane Vandenbusche, at 7 p.m.  Wednesday, Feb. 6, at Olympian Hall, 845 Howelsen Parkway.

if you go

What: “The History of Skiing in Colorado” with Professor Duane Vandenbusche
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6
Where: Olympian Hall, 845 Howelsen Parkway
Cost: Free but Winter Carnival button required
Info: treadofpioneers.org or sswsc.org

Vandenbusche, who is known widely as an engaging and passionate speaker, is the author of 11 books on Western Colorado and has been a professor of History at Western Colorado University in Gunnison since 1962. His talk and slide presentation will cover the fascinating history of skiing in the state of Colorado from the earliest days in the 1870s to modern times.

The talk will immediately follow the opening ceremonies of Winter Carnival that evening, and though the talk is free, a Winter Carnival button is required.

“It means a lot to me to be part of the Winter Carnival tradition in Steamboat Springs and also to support the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club,” Vandenbusche said. “I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of new people and also some old friends, including the Wiik family — Sven was a fellow coach and great friend at Western State College in the 1960s — along with Loris Werner, one of the greatest Western State and U.S. skiers.

“Steamboat Springs was very important in the history of skiing in Colorado and the West from Carl Howelsen to Gordon Wren, Marvin Crawford, the Werners and, of course, all the Olympic skiers and jumpers Ski Town U.S.A. has turned out,” Vandenbusche said.

Vandenbusche’s talk will cover some of the greatest and most influential events, people and developments in Colorado’s skiing history including the following.

  • The 1870s and mining days when the only way to travel in winter was on skis, 9 to 14 feet long with a simple leather toe strap.
  • Tour races that were held when the mining camps boomed in the 1880s.
  • Norwegian ski jumping champion Carl Howelsen, who came to the Steamboat Springs in 1913, built the first ski jumps and helped organize Winter Carnival, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and the sport of ski jumping in the town. He also helped establish Colorado’s oldest operating ski area, Howelsen Hill.
  • Early day skiers who hiked up mountains to ski them, and the first rope tows used in the state.
  • The role of World War II and the impact of the 10th Mountain Ski Division headquartered at Camp Hale just off Tennessee Pass.
  • The founding and development of the Interstate 70 ski areas and other ski areas around the state.
  • And the evolution of the current billion dollar industry in Colorado.

Come to Howelsen Hill on Feb. 6 for opening ceremonies. The historic ski lodge is the perfect venue to kick off the 106th Winter Carnival and celebrate Colorado’s fascinating ski history.

Candice Bannister is the executive director of Tread of Pioneers Museum.


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