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Steamboat Magazine

Historic Walking Tour

07/22/2016 10:37AM ● By Dan Greeson

Photo courtesy Tread of Pioneers Museum.

Compiled with the help of the Tread of Pioneers Museum and Historic Routt County, the tour takes one to two hours. Parking is available in city lots and on the street. Please note two-hour parking limit signs. 

Many of the buildings featured on the tour have large, bronze plaques with additional historical information.

1 | Tread of Pioneers Museum | 800 Oak St. 

Constructed by Ernest Campbell in 1901, this was home to the Zimmerman family from 1914 to 1956. In 1959, the Tread of Pioneers Museum opened in this building. The Queen Anne-style house was once located at Fifth and Oak streets and was moved to this location in 1988. The adjoining Utterback House  was moved to the site in 1997 from its original location at Fourth and Oak. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. 

2 | Giamboni House | 646 Oak St. 

Camillo Giamboni built this structure in 1888. Hidden under the siding is the original log building. This was home to Swiss brothers Henry and Camillo Giamboni, who were the first to make skis commercially in Steamboat Springs. 

3 | Christian Science Church | Seventh & Oak

Margaret Crawford, founding mother of Steamboat Springs, was a charter member of the town’s Christian Science Society, organized in July 1908. The log building, which continues to house the Christian Science Church, was completed in November 1934. 

4 | Willett House | 443 Oak St.

Doc Willett came to Steamboat Springs from Laramie, Wyo., in 1912 and took ownership of this house from Judge Morning following World War I. The well-known doctor made house calls in a bearskin coat, now owned by the Tread of Pioneers Museum. 

5 | Routt County Courthouse | 522 Lincoln Ave.

The cornerstone for the Routt County Courthouse was laid on Sept. 9, 1922. Designed by noted Colorado architect Robert Fuller, the three-story building was completed in December 1923 at a cost of $122,000. 

6 | The Old Town Pub | 600 Lincoln Ave. 

Built in 1904 by Ernest Campbell, this structure was originally the U.S. Post Office, followed by the Royal and Albany Hotels. From 1914 to 1921, the building was a hospital run by Dr. F.E. Willett. After the hospital relocated, the second floor became the popular Odd Fellows dance hall. The first floor served as a grocery, electric store and public libray from 1924 to 1967. 

7 | Pioneer Building | 700 block of Lincoln Ave.

The Pioneer Building was in continuous use as a hotel from 1923 until 1979. In its heyday, the upstairs rooms were run as a classic Western boarding house and the downstairs housed the colorful Pioneer Bar. 

8 | First National Bank/Rehder Building | Eighth & Lincoln (Steamboat Art Museum) 

The First National Bank of Steamboat Springs, chartered in 1902, occupied a small frame structure on this site until the present building was constructed in 1905. Dakota sandstone from Emerald Mountain and handmade bricks from Trogler’s local brickyard were used in the construction. 

9 | Chief Theater | 813 Lincoln Ave.  

The Chief Theater was the second motion picture theater to open in Steamboat Springs. It was owned by Harry Gordon, a Miami Indian chief who came to Steamboat Springs after making a fortune mining lead, zinc and silver in Oklahoma. The Chief was Steamboat Springs’ first theater equipped for “talkies” (movies with synchronized speech and sound). 

10 | Howelsen Hill | Seen from Ninth and Lincoln ●●● 

Rising up steeply from the south side of the Yampa River, this section of Emerald Mountain is named for Norwegian ski jumper Carl Howelsen, the “Flying Norseman” of Barnum and Bailey’s Circus. Carl arrived in Steamboat in 1913 and introduced the townspeople to ski jumping and recreational skiing. By the 1930s, Howelsen Hill facilities included slalom and downhill courses and a “boat tow” consisting of two sleds pulled up the mountain by a cable powered by a Model T engine and transmission. In 1947, a combination chair/T-bar lift to the top of Emerald Mountain was installed and was one of the longest lifts in the U.S. at that time. A 90-meter jump was installed by 1950. 

11 | Harwig’s Saddlery | 911 Lincoln Ave. (Harwig’s & L’Apogée) 

Built in 1901, this was originally a meat market. In 1916 it became Harwig’s Saddlery and Western Wear, which was run by the Harwig family until 1984. The historic cowboy sign over the storefront was painted in the 1950s or 1960s by noted Western artist Merrill Mahaffey. 

12 | The Old Pilot Building | 1009 Lincoln Ave. 

James Hoyle began Northwest Colorado’s first newspaper, The Steamboat Pilot, on July 31, 1885. This brick and stone building was constructed in the fall of 1909 for the newspaper printing office, which occupied the building until 1999. 

13 | Steamboat Laundry Building | 11th and Oak (The Laundry Restaurant & Creekside Café) 

Built over a 13-year period starting in 1906, this two-story brick and river-rock structure was constructed for the Steamboat Laundry, Dry Cleaning and Pressing business. 

14 | Carver Power Plant | Tenth Street between Lincoln and Oak (Centennial Hall) 

Originally built as a wood building in 1901, this coal-fired power plant made Steamboat Springs the first town in Northwest Colorado to provide its residents with electricity. The steam, a by-product of the system used to create electricity, was used to heat nearby schools and residences. The current brick building was built in 1906. This building was rehabilitated to house Centennial Hall. 

15 | Lorenz Building | 928 Lincoln Ave. 

The original wood building was completed in 1892 and was originally a general store. The current brick building was built in 1903. In 1912, it became the courthouse when the county seat relocated from Hahn’s Peak. After 1921, the courtroom occupied the second floor, while the clerk, treasurer and jail shared the ground floor. When the present-day courthouse was completed in 1923, the building became the site of a dance hall called the Social Benefit Association or SBA. 

16 | Hugus Building/Thiesen Mall | 912 Lincoln Ave. (Steamboat Smokehouse) 

Built in 1899, this was the site of J.W. Hugus & Co., one of the nation’s first general store chains. It sold farm equipment, furniture, stoves, feed and gasoline in barrels, among other items, in a facility equipped with electric lights, cash carriers and other labor-saving devices. The store housed Steamboat’s first telephone. 

17 | Maxwell/Squire Building | 840 Lincoln Ave. (Lyon Drug Store) 

Once known as the Maxwell Building, this structure was built by J.P. Maxwell of local pressed brick from Trogler’s brickyard, stone trim and plate glass. A post office occupied a room on the ground floor from 1909 to 1962. In 1909, Chamberlain-Grey Drug Store was the first drug store to occupy this site and the building was purchased by Chamberlain’s father from Maxwell in 1920. 

18 | F.M. Light & Sons | 830 Lincoln Ave. 

The F.M. Light family moved from Hicksville, Ohio to Steamboat in 1905. Soon after their arrival, they purchased the lot, erected the building and secured enough merchandise to open this clothing store. Light family members traveled throughout Northwest Colorado and southern Wyoming displaying their merchandise and taking orders from ranchers for Western wear, hats, boots, saddles and equipment. The retail store is still owned by family members. 

19 | The Furlong Building | 810 Lincoln Ave. (Bushwacker’s) 

This building was started in 1919 and finished in July of 1920 using stone from the Emerald Mountain quarry to frame the windows. Norwegian ski jumper Carl Howelsen completed the brickwork and masonry. 

20 | The Routt County National Bank Building 802 Lincoln Ave. (Wild Horse Gallery) 

Built in 1919 with stonework by Carl Howelsen, this building is a unique landmark of two different periods. The Lincoln Avenue façade shows the rehabilitated 1919 exterior, and the Eighth Street side displays the changes from the 1940s. 


A. and B. Crawford Houses

1238 and 1184 Crawford Ave. Crawford homes are private residences so please respect private property. 

The second and third houses built by the founding family of Steamboat Springs, the Crawfords, are still standing. The second home, at 1238 Crawford Ave. (on 12th Street), was built in 1886 from native lumber from the Suttle Mill. The bay window was added later to accommodate their daughter’s wedding reception. The large stone house at 1184 Crawford Ave. was built in 1894 of stone from the Emerald Mountain quarry. The family occupied this house until Mrs. Crawford’s death in 1939. Crawford’s descendants purchased the house in 2004 and carefully restored it. 

C. Historic Chamber of Commerce Building (Yampa Valley Land Trust) 1201 Lincoln Ave. 

Located along Soda Creek next to the library, this small 1960 structure is one of Czechoslovakian-born architect Eugene Sternberg’s two mid-century modern “usonian style” buildings in downtown Steamboat Springs (listed on the National Historic Register). Sternberg (1915-2005) came to the U.S. after World War II and soon established his architectural practice in Denver. The building’s nearly flat inverted pitch roof gives the visual impression of a butterfly in flight, so that locally, the building is known as the “Butterfly Building.” 

D. The Depot 1001 13th St. 

Designed by famous Denver architect Frank E. Edbrooke, the Depot was completed in 1909, shortly after the Moffat Line reached Steamboat Springs in December 1908. During the early 1910s, Steamboat was the largest cattle-shipping center in the country. The train provided passenger service until 1968. The Depot now houses the Steamboat Springs Arts Council and the Eleanor Bliss Center for the Arts.