Yule Log discovered in local park
After 16 years of participating in annual hunt, local resident successful
This year’s hunt for the Yule Log ended Friday afternoon after five clues were released, when local residents Bryan Phillips and Daisy Lister discovered the log while Bryan was taking Daisy to school in Strawberry Park.
During the walk, he decided to search for the log in Stehley Park, according to a Tread of Pioneers Museum press release. After 16 years of looking with no reward, he found the log.
Jayne Hill, president of the Tread of Pioneers Museum and writer of the clues for the past seven years, said that several people who read all of the clues told her they didn’t expect anyone to discover the log until at least the eighth or ninth clue. But that wasn’t the case.
“You just never know when you write the clue which way they’re going to go,” Hill said.
The Yule Log hunt is a 26-year old tradition for Steamboat Springs residents and the Tread of Pioneers Museum. The museum releases 10 clues — one a day — that rhyme and reference the city’s history to steer searchers across the town and to the Yule Log’s location.
The first clue starts at last year’s hiding spot, which was the rodeo sign on Howelsen Hill Parkway.
Clue two, which referred to “the lifeblood throughout the West,” steered searchers across the Yampa River toward town, Hill said.
The next clues got searchers to Lincoln Avenue and were meant to keep them there for a while, Hill said. In clue three, “Glad tidings up in a blow of smoke,” referred to the Good News building that burned to the ground 10 years ago, and “abandon pine, nix to oak,” was intended to keep people on Lincoln Avenue and away from Pine and Oak streets, Hill said.
That clue also read “From Hahn’s Peak they moved stuff down, Warmed by potatoes on the way to town,” which referred to the move of the county seat from Hahn’s Peak to Steamboat Springs years ago. During the move, residents had to haul all of the records in the middle of the winter, so they baked potatoes to warm themselves and eat during the journey, Hill said.
Clue Four referenced “a view once set with a mile of roses,” and was meant to bring people to the Routt County Courthouse. In the 1930s, H.W. Gossard wanted to turn Steamboat into a world-class resort because of its hot springs, so he planted rows of roses in front of the courthouse and gave merchants roses for their businesses, Hill said. With the economic troubles that soon hit America, that practice ceased.
Clue Five said to “go straight, past the lesser branch,” referring to the old Short Branch Saloon that used to be at Eighth Street and Lincoln Avenue. The clue mentioned “Jerry’s ranch,” a reference to longtime rancher Jerry McWilliams, who brought the last cattle drive down Lincoln Avenue and was one of the most prominent cattlemen in Northwest Colorado, Hill said.
And that’s where this year’s set of clues ended.
“I’ve gotten to 10 before,” Hill said, referring to stumping searchers until the last clue, “But I’d like to get there again. You can just never anticipate how smart Steamboat people are.”
Phillips could not be reached Sunday for comment about his success.
The reigning Yule Log-finding family, the Farrells, looked for the log this year, but they weren’t as lucky as in past years. The Farrells have found the Yule Log four out of the past five years, once with only one clue.
Glen Farrell said the family spread out and searched the area and even walked through Stehley Park early last week, but didn’t see the Yule Log. That someone else found the log just shows that as long as people get out and look, they have a good chance of finding it, too, Farrell said.
Reading the clues is not enough for a Yule Log success, Farrell said.
“You just can’t be an armchair quarterback — you have to get out and look,” he said.
Hill said she already knows where she will hide the Yule Log next year, so she has a full year to work on the clues.
— To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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