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Tales from the Tread: History Happy Hours continue


Candice Bannister
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
Portrait of two men drinking Louis Obert Gold beer, circa 1910.
Missouri Historical Society/courtesy

The Tread of Pioneers Museum’s History Happy Hours, our popular storytelling series featuring the rowdy and raucous side of Routt County and Western History, will take place virtually/online for the 2020-21 season. We will present talks from the past four years, as well as a new, live Zoom event Dec. 1.

Though we can’t meet in person this year, for the perfect pairing of local craft beer and the shady and seedy stories from our past, you can still join the fun. Tune into the Tread of Pioneers Museum’s Facebook page or Youtube channel at 5:30 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month October through April 2021.

What do we mean by rowdy and raucous history? The focus of the talks are the mysteries, legends, lore, debauchery, conflicts, crimes, lawlessness and wayward ways of the Wild West.

Here’s this season’s virtual lineup:

  • Oct. 6: Author Linda Wommack will kick off the series with “Ann Bassett: Colorado’s Cattle Queen.” The award-winning author has produced the first biography of this prominent female rancher of the Old West. Along with her sister Josie, the duo was well known through run-ins with the law, and their association with other infamous outlaws, including Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch.
  • Nov. 3: Regional lawlessness continues with “Outlaws Tom Horn and the Bassett Family,” presented by Dan Davidson of the Museum of Northwest Colorado. Horn typified the clash between the Old West and the emerging West, where the rule of law was beginning to change the lawless landscape. Learn about Horn and what forces turned him into a cold-blooded killer.
  • Dec. 1: We will host a live Zoom event for “The Bad Old Days of Colorado: Untold Stories of the Wild West,” with C-SPAN author Randi Samuelson-Brown. The book and the talk celebrates the state’s glorious and rowdy past and uncovers just how “bad” things used to be: the terrain, the inhabitants and especially the quality of whiskey. Nineteenth century Colorado was not for the faint of heart!
  • Jan. 5, 2021: Laurel Watson of the Hayden Heritage Center will present “Rowdy Routt County.”  Watson, author of the book, “The Yampa Valley Sin Circuit,” unearths the seamy history of Yampa Valley’s early red-light districts and the people who called them home. Despite the distance from the rest of civilization, money and booze fueled the industry until prohibition.
  • Feb. 2, 2021: Beloved local historian Paul Bonnifield will share his discoveries in “Crimes and Conflicts in Routt County.” “There was a different attitude towards crime in the first half of the twentieth century versus today,” Bonnifield said. “There was also a significant contrast between how crimes were handled in mining camps, versus other areas of the county.”
  • March 2, 2021: Nita Naugle, curator of the Tracks and Trails Museum in Oak Creek, will present “The KKK in Routt County”. Although the KKK is known as a secretive society, its presence in Routt County was well known. The members’ activities and the political candidates who sided with their views were splashed across the front pages of the local newspapers. The KKK formed partly in response to the large numbers of immigrants who lived in Routt County at the time to work in the coal mines and fields.
  • April 6, 2021: Becky Hicks of the Hahns Peak Historical Society shares “The Death of Joseph Hahn and the History of Hahns Peak,” the story of gold discovery in the Hahns Peak Basin, the establishment of Hahns Peak as the first town in Northwest Colorado and the grisly death of Joseph Hahn.
If you go

What: Tread of Pioneers Museum’s History Happy Hours
When: 5:30 p.m. first Tuesday of each month October through April 2021
Where: On the museum’s Facebook page and Youtube channel
Cost: Free; donations appreciated

We hope you will pour your favorite beverage in the comfort of your home and join us for History Happy Hours. The rowdy and raucous side of Colorado history is waiting for you. Cheers!

Candice Bannister is executive director of Tread of Pioneers Museum in Steamboat Springs.


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