Tales from the Tread: Museum opens historic Mesa Schoolhouse
The first one-room schoolhouse in Routt County was a cabin owned by the Crawford family, and the last was the Mesa Schoolhouse. Although the Crawford cabin is long gone, the 100-year-old Mesa Schoolhouse still stands proudly on the west side of Highway 40 south of Steamboat Springs.
When this school held its first class in 1916, Routt County had 58 one-room schoolhouses and 45 school districts, as compared to 13 schools and three districts today. Classes in the schoolhouses ranged from three to 40 students and covered grades first through eighth, all taught by one teacher.
As time passed and Routt County towns and cities grew, the school districts were consolidated and the one-room schoolhouses gave way to modern schools in town. Originally meant to serve students on ranches far from town, by the 1950s most of the one-room schoolhouses were considered no longer necessary due to modern transportation and population growth in the towns.
At the end of the school year in 1959, Steamboat’s Mesa Schoolhouse was the last one-room school in Routt County to close, ending a significant chapter in our educational history.
Experience the Mesa Schoolhouse
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The Tread of Pioneers Museum opens this treasured city-owned landmark for tours and fun activities that showcase the pioneer spirit of one-room schoolhouses. From 1 to 3 p.m. on July 19, the Tread of Pioneers Museum will present “Pioneer Days,” a program of pioneer activities and crafts for kids age 5 and older with an adult. Activities include pioneer stories, candle dipping, a mountain man presentation, spinning wheel demonstration and more.
From 2 to 4 p.m. on July 21 and from 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 9, the museum will also host tours at the Mesa Schoolhouse. Museum staff members dressed in historic costumes will take you back in time to experience student and teacher life at the turn-of-the-century in this one-room schoolhouse. You’ll learn about historic toys, recess games and Routt County school history. Kids can play with the toys and ring the school’s bell.
After these events, don’t forget to check out the newest exhibit at the museum, “Staking Their Claim: Pioneer Settlement in the Yampa Valley.” Come discover the stories of isolation, dangers, opportunity and freedom early pioneers experienced making a home and a living in one of the last regions settled in the rugged Rocky Mountain West.
Special thanks to Historic Routt County and the city of Steamboat Springs for their co-sponsorship of these events. For more information on all of the events and new exhibits, contact the museum at 970-879-2214 or treadofpioneers.org.
Tamra Monahan is museum assistant at Tread of Pioneers Museum in Steamboat Springs.
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