Tales from the Tread: Hearing Howelsen history

For Steamboat Pilot & Today

The Tread of Pioneers Museum’s latest community project brings the sounds of history to the base of historic Howelsen Hill through a new audio tour post that shares the unmatched history of the century-old ski area, Steamboat Springs’ Olympic heritage and the legacy of Norwegian ski jumper Carl Howelsen. 

“Though this will be our first outdoor tour post project in Steamboat Springs, they are popular throughout the world at historic sites and national parks,” Tread of Pioneers Museum Executive Director, Candice Bannister said. “At Howelsen Hill, you’re surrounded by so much history and elements that have shaped our community, and we wanted to bring it front and center through this project.” 

Six unique stories share the history, character and spirit of this special location. Hear from Steamboat Springs’ first Olympian John Steele (1932) and six-time winter Olympian Todd Lodwick, as well as stories about Carl Howelsen, Howelsen Hill, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and Winter Carnival and the sports of ski jumping and Nordic combined. 

Installed at the entrance to the historic log lodge, the push-button audio post provides quick access to each audio segment which allows you to take in the history while seeing the site instead of simply reading a sign.

“We host weekly guided tours at Howelsen Hill with Olympian Todd Lodwick in the summer, and we want to share the history every day, all day, year-round,” Bannister said. 

“Both visitors and locals can benefit from this project as it makes the rich history of Howelsen Hill accessible to all,” Howelsen Hill Ski and Rodeo Manager Brad Setter said. “As we celebrate our heritage sites and unique history of Steamboat Springs, we inspire appreciation, stewardship and pride — something Howelsen Hill has done for more than 100 years.”

Howelsen Hill is the oldest continuously operating ski area in North America. Founded in 1914, Howelsen is the home of the century-old Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and the training ground for nearly 100 (and counting) Olympians. The site is also the most complete natural ski jumping complex in North America. Today, Howelsen Hill hosts national and international ski and jumping competitions, as well as many SSWSC disciplines.

Howelsen Hill is also home to Winter Carnival century-old traditions, including the night show and opening ceremonies. This treasured landmark is often referred to as the heart of downtown Steamboat Springs and holds a special place in the hearts of generations of snow lovers.

The Howelsen Hill audio exhibit was produced by the Tread of Pioneers Museum with funding from the museum and the Routt County Museum and Heritage Fund, in addition to support from Howelsen Hill staff. 

Tread of Pioneers Museum is located in Steamboat Springs.

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