Tales from the Tread: Pioneer Picnic returns to Steamboat

Candice Bannister and Nita Naugle/For Steamboat Today
If you go: What: Routt County Pioneer Picnic When: Noon Saturday, June 10 Where: Steamboat Mountain School, 42605 Routt County Road 36 Cost: Free, but bring a side dish to share

The 113th annual county-wide Pioneer Picnic will be held from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 10, at the Steamboat Mountain School, formerly Lowell Whiteman School, located at 42605 Routt County Road 36. The Tread of Pioneers Museum will host this year’s event. Guests are invited to bring a favorite side dish or appetizer to share for the potluck lunch. The main dish, desserts and drinks will be provided.

Attendees will enjoy visiting with neighbors, friends and even descendants of Routt County pioneer families. Photos and an oral history recording station will also be provided by the Tread of Pioneers Museum.

The first Pioneer Picnic, held in 1886, developed out of early day Fourth of July celebrations, at which pioneers from all over the county gathered to socialize. Through the years, the picnic became the social event of the summer — a chance to visit with neighbors, honor the first pioneers and those who had passed on and remember the hardships and sacrifices in the early days of our county.

By the early 1900s, life was quickly changing in the valley. The Pioneer Association was formed to continue the annual picnics and share and record the stories of the early pioneers. On June 14, 1904, the first official Pioneer Picnic was held in Hayden. The group later changed its name to The Routt-Moffat Pioneer Association after Moffat County was divided from Routt County in 1911.

The association and the annual gathering was exclusive to only pioneer families. Eventually, the Association disbanded, and the picnic became what it is today — a potluck picnic organized by descendants of local pioneer families and most recently, local museums.

The event is open to the community and rotates throughout the county every two years.

For more information about this year’s picnic, contact Candice Bannister at the Tread of Pioneers Museum at 970-879-2214 or

Candice Bannister is executive director of Tread of Pioneers Museum. Nita Naugle is director of Tracks and Trails Museum.


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