Tales from the Tread: Museum receives historic town records
The Steamboat Springs Town Co. collection, one-of-a-kind primary resource materials that document the establishment of the town in 1884, was housed in the University of Colorado Boulder’s Archives for more than 40 years. The historic records were recently gifted to the Tread of Pioneers Museum, where they will now be preserved and made accessible to the public.
The materials include correspondence between the company’s principals and early town residents, annual reports and legal and financial papers from the town’s founding up to 1904.
“The collection documents Steamboat Springs’ history and really needed to come home to the Yampa Valley to receive better use at a local archive and museum such as the Tread,” said Megan Friedel, head of the University Libraries Archives.
Candice Bannister, executive director of the Tread of Pioneers Museum, calls the collection, which details the correspondence between town founding members, truly remarkable.
“Reading the letters, we have learned about the Town Co.’s early struggles establishing a town,” Bannister said. “We learn about road placement decisions, plot plans and read specific language that describes the hardships and frustrations of starting a town in such a remote area of the western U.S.”
“The collection’s primary source material including letters and correspondence, provides a narrative and allows us to hear first-hand from the men behind the decisions,” said Katie Adams, curator and archives manager at the Tread of Pioneers Museum. “Added to our existing archive, we now have a more complete collection and story.”
The new collection was organized by CU, but its content has never been studied. The museum will now begin reviewing, transcribing and digitizing the collection.
Bannister and Adams are looking forward to working with these documents and local historians to discover more hidden mysteries that can help the community continue to understand the town’s history and make them accessible to researchers and the local community.
Historian Jim Crawford is the great-grandson of Steamboat Springs Town Co. manager James H. Crawford. He said he is excited about the transfer, as he hopes the records will inform his own research.
“The Town Co. directed the development of Steamboat Springs for 20 years, yet locally not much is known about it or its officers Andrew Macky, James Maxwell and Lewis Cheney,” said Crawford. “I’m hoping these records will reveal the thinking behind some of their policies — such as the no-liquor clause in deeds — and the finances that ran the company.”
As important discoveries are made in the collection, Bannister will feature these documents on the museum’s Facebook and Instagram this fall. The museum also plans to create a display of the items next summer.
“It’s an honor to have CU Boulder Archives put their trust in our organization, staff and archive, to preserve and study these documents,” she continued. “We are so pleased to have them.”
The Tread of Pioneers Museum is located at 800 Oak St. in downtown Steamboat Springs.
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